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Specific Learning


The Facts of Specific Learning
Facts: Definitions
 IDEA Definition
 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
 A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved
in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may
manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell,
or do mathematical calculation.
 NJCLD Definition
 National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD)
 Came up with their own definition because they perceived a lack in the
IDEA definition.
 Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous
group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition
and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or
mathematical abilities.
Facts: Prevalence

 Currently 2.4 million students are diagnosed with SLD and receive
special education services in our schools or 4-6% of all public school
 IDEA Part B Child Count, 2010, Students ages 6-21. Available at www.IDEAdata.org

 41% of all students receiving special education are SLD

 IDEA Part B Child Count, 2010, Students ages 6-21. Available at www.IDEAdata.org

 The number of SLD students has been on a steady decline in the

past 10 years.
 IDEA Part B Child Counts, 2001-2010, Students ages 6-21. Available at www.IDEAdata.org

 Boys outnumber girls three to one in prevalence of SLD

 http://www.education.com/reference/article/prevalence-learning-disabilities/
Facts: Language Disability
 Two types: Written Expression and Oral Expression
 Written Expression: requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills.
 Makes the act of writing difficult.
 Can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper.
 Can cause trouble with organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.
 trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears
 Note-taking during a lecture is a problem

 Visual-spatial difficulties: trouble processing what the eye sees

 Note-taking from the board is a problem

 Causes fatigue because the physical process of writing is so arduous

 Oral Expression: express thoughts, and ideas using appropriate language structures
 Is NOT reading aloud or reading fluently.
 must adversely affect academic performance.
 If a deficit does not affect academic performance the speech-language pathologist
may better address the student’s needs.
http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dysgraphia http://edie502.wikispaces.com/Oral+Expression+Disability
Facts: Reading Disability
 Two types: Reading Fluency and Reading Comprehension
 Also known as Dyslexia
 Most prevalent type of learning disability
 Characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition,
decoding and spelling.
 May result in poor reading fluency and reading out loud.
 Reads slowly and painfully

 May cause problems with reading comprehension and slow down

vocabulary growth


Facts: Math disability
 Two types: Math Calculation and Math Reasoning
 Visual-spatial difficulties and language processing difficulties contribute to math disabilities .

 Math Calculation: Difficulty in making arithmetical calculations

 Also known as Dyscalculia
 Trouble learning math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
 Trouble with mental math
 Difficulty learning math concepts beyond the basic math facts
 Poor long term memory for math functions
 Difficulty measuring things

 Math Reasoning: Difficulty developing math problem-solving skills

 Difficulty finding different approaches to one problem
 Not familiar with math vocabulary
 Avoiding games that require strategy
 Difficulty estimating costs like groceries bills
 Poor ability to budget or balance a checkbook
 Trouble with concepts of time, such as sticking to a schedule or approximating time

Causes and Preventions of Specific
Learning Disabilities
Causes of Specific
Learning Disabilities
 Physiological:
 Brain injury – may occur prenatally if
exposed to toxins, during birth if deprived
of oxygen, or postnatally from an accident
or illness.
 Heredity – if one or both parents have a
learning disability, the chance of the child
having one is 30-50%.
 Chemical imbalance – biochemical
disorder in the brain.
Causes (continued)

 Curriculum and Environmental Contributors:

 Poor nutrition
 Adverse emotional climate
 Toxins in the environment - lead-based paint,
cigarette smoke
 Too little stimulation
 Lack of educational materials
 English as a second language
 Children who live in poverty
Causes (continued)
 Lack of medical care
 Low parent education and less modeling
 Few early learning experiences

In most cases, a single cause is not known, and it is very

unlikely that a primary cause is ever identified. However,
a combination of one or more of these causes are most
often considered. It is not uncommon for SLD to co-
occur with social, emotional, or behavior problems.
Prevention of Specific Learning
 Primary Prevention
 Healthy start for newborns
 Appropriate prenatal care
 Early intervention for developmental delays
 Reducing chances of brain injury
 Education for parents
 Improving teachers’ skills in instruction
Prevention of Specific Learning
Disabilites (continued)
 Secondary Prevention
 Remedial instruction
 Working with children (RTI) because learning
problems have been noticed
 Tertiary Prevention
 Keeping the effects of the problem from spreading
into other areas of functioning
 Avoiding problems in other subjects
Resources for Effected Students
and Their Families
National Resources
 The National Center for Learning Disabilities
 Established in 1977
 Provides resources to promote awareness of learning disabilities as well
as provides grants and other resources for research and implementation
of innovative practices in the field of learning disabilities. The
organization also acts as an advocacy group for students with SLDs and
their families.
 http://www.ncld.org/
 The Learning Disabilities Association of America
 The LDA was established in 1963 by a group of concerned parents.
 The LDA promotes prevention of learning disabilities, provides resources
for learning disability research, promotes identification of those with
learning disabilities, supports educational intervention, and advocates
for people with learning disabilities and their families.
 LDA Website
State Resources

 Georgia Department of Education- The Divisions for Special Education

Services and Supports
 This state service is provided through the State Department of Education. This
service provides resources and support to local school systems to provide
special education services and supports to students who need them. These
programs and services provide extra educational opportunities for students
to boost their educational achievement and multiply these student’s
opportunities upon their getting out of high school.
 Website
 Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia
 Provides resources and advocates for students with learning disabilities and
their families in the state of Georgia.
 Website
Local Resources

 Southeast GLRS
 GLRS is based in several locations across the state of Georgia. Its primary
focus is to provide professional learning for teachers who teach students
with learning disabilities and to parents with children who have learning
disabilities. The nearest location to me is Southeast GLRS in Claxton, Georgia.
Each location serves as a source of local support for schools and families
who are within its coverage area.
 Website
 Parent 2 Parent of Georgia
 Parent 2 Parent of Georgia is a support organization which allows parents
with children who have all types of disabilities, including specific learning
disabilities, to get advice and support from other parents who are experts.
The organization is located in Statesboro.
 Website
Accommodations for Students with
Specific Learning Disabilities
Accommodations in the Classroom
Academics and Organization
 Present information visually and verbally
 Use diagrams, graphics and pictures to
support instruction.
 Provide independent practice
 Write legibly and print when possible
 Use large print
 Speak clearly and turn so students can see
your face
 Present learning tasks into small steps
Accommodations ( Cont.)
Academics and Organization

 Regularly check understanding

 Provide timely feedback
 Have student underline key words or directions on
activity sheets
 Teach memory strategies
 Use graphic organizers to connect ideas
Accommodations ( Cont.)
 Highlight unfamiliar words, review them, and explore the
 Teach the use of contextual clues for unfamiliar words
 Build background for reading
 Set a purpose for reading – to gain meaning from text
 Have students use both visual and auditory senses when
reading text
 Present reading in small units
 Peer read
 Use graphic organizers to connect ideas.
 Read and share stories with students.
Accommodations ( Cont.)
 Use oral exams in when possible.
 Provide notes or outlines to reduce writing.
 Provide a partially completed outline that
allows student to fill in details under major
 Allow use of a laptop or other computer for
writing assignments.
Accommodations ( Cont.)
 Allow use of fingers and scratch paper.
 Use diagrams and draw math concepts.
 Present activities that involve all sensory modalities –
auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic.
 Arrange peer assistance and tutoring opportunities.
 Have graph paper available so students can align numbers
in math problems.
 Use colored pencils to differentiate problems.
 Offer manipulatives throughout instruction.
 Teach students to draw pictures of word problems
Accommodations ( Cont.)
Assistive Technology
 Portable word processors
 Any equipment or device
 Proofreading programs
that helps students
 Speech-recognition programs
compensate for their
 Speech synthesizers/screen readers
learning deficits
 Talking calculators
 Talking spell checkers and electronic
 Audio books and publications
 Electronic math work sheets
 Freeform database software
 http://www.greatschools.org/special-
education/assistive-technology/702-  Graphic organizers and outlining
Journal Article One
 Journal: Exceptional Children. Fall, 2013, Vol. 80 Issue 1, p101, 20 p.;
Council for Exceptional Children Language: English, Database:
Academic OneFile
 Article Title: Specific learning disability and response to intervention:
state-level guidance
 This article focuses on the importance of Response to Intervention
(RTI) in assessing students to discover if the qualify for special
education services for Specific Learning Disabilities. The article was
written in 2013 and explores how different states have used RTI to
evaluate the performance of students being considered for
diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disability in schools. No uniform
process has been devised to accomplish this task using information
gained during administration of RTI. The procedures that are being
used in different areas to accomplish this are discussed as well as
possible changes in policy. The article also discusses research
completed on the subject.
 Link
Journal Article Two
 Journal: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
2011 Dec, Issue 16.
 Article Title: Facts for Families: Children with Learning Disabilities
 This article focuses on parent friendly information about how to
identify if a child may need to be evaluated for a learning disability.
The article is written in lay terms so that the content is accessible to
all. The article includes characteristics of learning disabilities as well
as steps to take if a parent suspects that their child may be
struggling with a disability.
 I will use this article in my classroom by sharing it with parents.
 http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED533387.pdf
Journal Article Three
 Journal: B. Butterworth, Y. Kovas. Understanding Neurocognitive
Developmental Disorders Can Improve Education for All. Science, 2013; 340
(6130): 300 DOI: 10.1126/science.1231022
 Title: Understanding Neurocognitive Developmental Disorders Can Improve
Education for All
 According to this article, up to 10 percent of the population are affected by
specific learning disabilities (SLDs), such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and autism,
translating to 2 or 3 pupils in every classroom. The disability arises from atypical
brain development complicated by genetic and environmental causes.
 While these conditions in isolation already provide a challenge for educators, an
added element is that specific learning disabilities also co-occur. For example, in
children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 33 to 45 percent also suffer
from dyslexia and 11 percent from dyscalculia.
Journal Article Three (cont.)
 The article points out that we are beginning to find effective ways to
help learners with one or more SLDs. Those with their unique
combination of SLDs will need specialized support tailored to their
 Professor Butterworth states:“What the team hope is that by
developing an understanding of how individual differences in brain
development interact with formal education, and also adapting
learning pathways to individual needs, those with specific learning
disabilities will produce more tailored education for such learners.”
 "Each child has a unique cognitive and genetic profile, and the
educational system should be able to monitor and adapt to the
learner's current repertoire of skills and knowledge.”
Journal Article Four

 Journal Issue: Children with Disabilities Volume 22 Number 1 Spring

 Prevention of Disability in Children: Elevating the Role of
 Authors: Stephen A. Rauch Bruce P. Lanphear
 This article addresses environmental factors that affect children with
specific learning disabilities. Medical research focuses on eliminating risk
factors to mitigate symptoms for individual children with disabilities.
However, the studies inevitably fail to prevent disabilities. According to
the authors, environmental factors put entire populations at risk.
Journal Article Four (continued)
 Toxins in air, water, and soil, stressors of poverty, unhealthy marketing for tobacco
products and junk food are all cited as areas that are affecting our population in
adverse ways. Studies have been conducted on plastics that are commonly used
that may be affecting child development. The authors in this article are asking for
a shift in societal thinking and a long-term investment in how we see these things
as the real key to preventing specific learning disabilities in the future. In the long-
run these interventions by our society will prove more beneficial than any medical
Journal Article Five
 Journal: Whitby, P. S., Marx, T., McIntire, J., & Wienke, W. (2013). Teaching
Exceptional Children, 45(5), 32-39.
 Article Title: Advocating for Students with Disabilities at the School Level.

 The article discusses the special education teacher as an advocate for students
with special needs. There are five professional standards that guide the special
education teacher in her role and they are defined by the Council for Exceptional
Children (CEC).The five guidelines require the teacher to work to improve
services students receive, work with other professionals for the benefit of the
student, to remain objective and document any issues in the special education
services, make sure students are properly placed, and to follow the laws. The
article discusses the issues special education teachers may face with the school
administration. At times special educators are expected to do things that are not in
the best interest of the special education student due to costs.
Journal Article Five (cont.)
Teachers have been faced with hardships and mistreatment in their role as advocates
for special education students by administrators. Universities are not preparing
teachers for the opposition they are facing. Special education teachers may also
encounter hostility from the general education teachers regarding accommodations.
The article shares some training that universities should incorporate to get special
education teachers ready for the adversities they may experience. Special education
teachers should also be very knowledgeable about the law and how it is implemented
at the school and district level. The article suggests strategies that teachers can utilize
to effectively advocate for special education students. Teachers have to build a
positive relationship with the building staff and place the needs of the student first at
all times. Special education teachers have to ensure the individual student is addressed
rather than special education as a whole. Effective strategies and methods teachers
can use to conduct a productive meeting with the parents and general education
teachers are discussed. The article goes on to state that the special education teacher
has to remember to use diplomacy. It will quell most negative situations and yield
positive results.
Quiz Question

The National Center for Learning

Disabilities was established in in
1963 by concerned parents.

True or False


The National Center for Learning

Disabilities was Established in 1977.
Quiz Question #2

 Which of the following is considered an

environmental toxin?
 a. cigarette smoke
 b. traffic
 c. noise pollution
 d. fog
Quiz Question 2 Answer

 Cigarette Smoke
Quiz Question

Another name for reading disability

a. Dysgraphia
b. Dyslexia
c. Dyscalculia
d. Dyspraxia

b. Dyslexia
Quiz Question 1

 Small print is a good modification to use.

 a. True
 b. False
Quiz Question 1 Answer

 False
Quiz Question #1

 Specific Learning Disabilities have been known to co-occur with:

 a. social skill problems

 b. behavioral disorders
 c. emotional problems
 d. all of the above
Quiz Question 1 Answer

 All of the above

Quiz Question

Both the National Center for

Learning Disabilities and Learning
Disabilities Association of America
provide advocacy services for
students and families.

True or False


Both organizations provide

advocacy services to students and
Quiz Question

Another name for a learning

disability in math calculation is:
a. Dysgraphia
b. Dyslexia
c. Dyscalculia
d. Dyspraxia

c. Dyscalculia
Quiz Question 2

 What kind of pencils help differentiate

written problems?
Quiz Question 2 Answer

 Color pencils
Quiz Question

Another name for a learning

disability in written expression:
a. Dysgraphia
b. Dyslexia
c. Dyscalculia
d. Dyspraxia

a. Dysgraphia
Quiz Question # 3

 Specific learning disability and learning

disability are interchangeable.
Quiz Question 3 Answer

 True
Quiz Question
Which of the following is NOT
accepted as a type of learning
a. Reading Fluency or Comprehension
b. Written or Oral Expression
c. Math Calculation or Reasoning
d. Attention Deficit Disorder or Hyperactivity Disorder

d. Attention Deficit Disorder or Hyperactivity Disorder

While attention deficits do impede

learning, they are not accepted as a
learning disability as defined by IDEA
and NJCLD.
Quiz Question # 3

 Chemical imbalance can be a cause of

Specific Learning Disabilites in children?
Quiz Question 3 Answer

 True
 Learning Disabilities:
Foundations, Characteristics,
and Effective Teaching, by D.P.
Hallahan, J.W. Lloyd, J.M.
Kauffman, M.P. Weiss, E.A.
Martinez, 2005 edition.
 Special Education:
Contemporary Perspectives for
School Professionals, by
Marilyn Friend, 4th Edition.
 www.education.com
 www.naset.org