Friday, July 15, 2011

Characteristics of Learning Disabilites

We now continue our topic on Learning Disability.  From our previous post, I tried to enumerate four umbrella categories on why a child do not have the learning disability. This time, I will share to you the observed characteristics and behaviors of children that might have learning disability. Before I forget, I am reading this wonderful book of Roger Pierangelo called "A Survival Kit for the Special Education Teacher" and it's where most of this post and the previous one were lifted from, with some adaptation.

Let us start with Intellectual Requirements.

Children with learning disabilities usually exhibit potential within the average range and above.  This usually translates into a score of 90 or better. Such potential should only be measured by an individual intelligence test like the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised. Take note of this guys, when we say exhibit potential, you get this feeling that the child is actually "smart" but just can't seem to get off the ground when needed to do certain academic tasks.

Then the Academic Requirements.

Children with learning disabilities usually exhibit mild academic deficits (6 months-1 year below grade level), moderate academic deficits (1-2 years below grade level) or severe academic deficits (more that 2 years below grade level.) These deficits may exhibit themselves in any one of the following areas:
  • Decoding (word attack skills)
  • Computation
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Written Expression
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Mathematical Skills
  • Oral Expression
Take note of the Exclusion Requirements.

Children with learning disabilities are not retarded, primarily emotionally disturbed, hearing impaired, visually impaired, slow learners or the result of inadequate instructional practices, cultural or economic disadvantages. Check out this post

So you have to make sure you know the Background Requirements.

Children with learning disabilities usually exhibit a history of learning, social and developmental difficulties dating back to early grades. Investigate if possible, check out the student's former schools and teachers.

Then there is the Behavioral Requirements.

Children with learning disabilities usually exhibit several of the following:
  • Variability in performance across subject areas
  • Attention problems - distractibility, poor concentration
  • Organizational problems with information, space or time
  • Poor motivation and attitude due to repeated academic failure
  • Memory problems
  • Language deficits in listening, speaking or writing
  • Poor motor abilities in fine motor (small muscle) or gross motor (large muscle)
  • Inappropriate social behavior - making friends, poor reactions to social situations
Don't forget Processing Requirements.

Children with learning disabilities usually exhibit deficits in the learning process. The strengths or weaknesses in this process are usually measured by process (perceptual) tests such as the Slingerland, Woodcock Johnson, Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitudes or the ITPA.

Guys all these tests must be given by trained personnel and are quite expensive. Try to consult special education teachers and occupational therapists to give you some ideas on what to look for in a students performance and areas of processing.

That's it for now bye!

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