Learning Disabilities: 101

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1 Learning Disabilities: 101 Website: x 23 By: Kelli Cote, Principal, Parent, LDAYR Director Shelley Henderson, Parent and LDAYR Director April 9, 2014

2 Learning Objectives Understand the perspectives and needs of students with Learning Disabilities (LDs) Highlight practical strategies to engage and empower people with LDs and their families Promote voice through self-advocacy strategies

3 Learning Disabilities A Learning Disability (LD) refers to: A variety of disorders that affect acquisition, retention, understanding, organization or use of verbal and/or non-verbal information. These disorders result from impairments in one or more psychological processes related to learning* in combination with otherwise average abilities essential for thinking and reasoning. *The term psychological processes describes an evolving list of cognitive functions such as: Phonological Processing Memory and Attention Processing Speed Language Processing Perceptual-Motor Processing Visual-Spatial Processing Executive Functions

4 People with LDs are intelligent and can learn.! 4

5 Learning Disabilities Learning Disabilities range in severity and invariably interfere with the acquisition and use of one or more of the following skills: Oral language (listening, speaking, understanding) Reading (decoding, comprehension) Written language (spelling, written expression) Mathematics (computation, problem solving)

6 The impairment is lifelong. LDs are brain based problems that affect one or more ways that a person takes in, stores or uses information. LDs can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing, and math. They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time management and social skills. Learning Disabilities are due to genetic, other congenital and/or neuro-biological factors. They are not caused by factors such as cultural or language differences, inadequate or inappropriate instruction, socio-economic status or lack of motivation. 6

7 LDs come in many forms and their effects are different from person to person. They relate to: Getting information into the brain (Input) Making sense of this information (Organization) Storing and retrieving information (Memory) Getting information back out (Output) 7

8 What do LDs affect? No two LDs are the same. LDs vary greatly in form and intensity, and can affect one or more of the following areas: ACADEMICS DAILY LIFE SOCIAL LIFE 8

9 ACADEMICS People with LDs may experience problems with: Reading (sometimes called dyslexia) -Understanding what is read -Recognizing words -Breaking words down into their individual sounds -Reading fluently Writing (sometimes called dysgraphia) -Handwriting -Putting thoughts on paper -Organizing written work -Spelling and grammar Math (sometimes called dyscalculia) -Doing arithmetic and calculation -Using symbols in math -Understanding visual-spatial relationships -Learning number facts 9

10 Daily Life Organizing Managing time Problem solving Learning to drive Planning and decision making Finding their way in an unfamiliar environment Interpreting graphs, charts, and maps Following multi-step instructions Finding things on a cluttered desk Seeing the whole picture or knowing what details are important Social Life Interpreting facial expressions Understanding body language Understanding tones of voice Taking turns in conversations 10

11 Brain Processing Challenges

12 Visual Perception: What is this a picture of?

13 Does it help if the image is blackened-out? We all look at the same image but may not all process the information in the same way. Looking at the image in different ways allows everyone an opportunity to process the image of the Dalmatian.

14 Does it help if the photo has more detail?

15 Say the colour, not the word! Does your brain get jammed up when processing two tasks simultaneously? The brain gets mixed messages and finds it difficult to re-focus with the two stimuli. Your right brain tries to say the colour, but your left brain insists on reading the word. YELLOW BLUE ORANGE BLACK RED GREEN PURPLE YELLOW RED ORANGE GREEN BLACK BLUE RED PURPLE GREEN BLUE ORANGE

16 These situations may lead to: Low self-esteem Lack of confidence Feeling dumb A sense of failure Appearing less motivated Loneliness Social withdrawal 16

17 So what can we do? Practical Strategies

18 Communication is Key A culture of collaboration And a positive school climate can help professionals, parents, guardians, and educators work constructively together to address concerns related to programs and services before they become a source of conflict.

19 When parents are involved, children do better in schools, and they go to better schools. Swap, 1993

20 Successful parent-professional partnerships result in improved outcomes for students, but many parents and professionals require training to develop the skills necessary to form effective relationships. Teaching Exceptional Children, Mar 2007

21 Benefits of Building Positive Relationships Positive relationships = creative solutions Everyone understands they have a role to play to ensure the best interests of the student are met Willingness to consider solutions other than the way things have been done before Students can sense the quality of the relationship between parents and educators

22 Communication is the Key It is not what you say, it s how you say it.

23

24

25

26 LD Waterfall Chart

27 Some Effective Practices Embrace Structure Individualize in Good Faith Teach in Multiple Modes Know What You re Teaching and Assessing at Each Moment Model Learning Watch for Assumed Knowledge

28 For success, persons with Learning Disabilities require specialized interventions in the home, school, community and workplace settings, appropriate to their individual strengths and needs, including: specific/direct skill instruction self-advocacy skills accommodations/compensatory strategies

29 Self-Advocacy Model Stop, Think, Act, Check it Out

30 What is happening? Where am I? Where do I want to be? Stop

31 What can I do? What choices do I have? Think What will happen if?

32 What are my choices? What do I need to do? Do it. Act

33 Did it work? Do things look different? Am I satisfied? Check it out

34 Top 5 Advocacy Skills Understand learning profile Create achievable goals with action oriented steps Have a plan and revisit it often Balance strengths with needs Reflect

35 Advocacy Cards

36 NEEDS of People with LDs The need to be treated with respect and dignity Need to be recognized as an individual who has abilities and strengths as well as a Learning Disability The need to have their strengths and weaknesses identified The need to have coping and compensatory strategies identified The need for accommodations The need for specific skilled instruction The need for social skill training The need to learn self-advocacy skills 36

37 A parent s perspective

38 Our LDAYR is here to help you. To provide leadership in Learning Disabilities advocacy, research, education, and services and to advance the full participation of children, youth, and adults with learning disabilities in today s society. 38

39 Learning Disabilities Association of York Region Information & Library Outreach Programs Referrals to Other Resources Advocacy Serving persons with Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Adult/Pre Employment Program/JobFit Public Awareness Child and Youth Programs Educational Services/ Training Programs & Services 39

40

41 The Power of One I am only one But I am still one I cannot do everything, But still I can do something And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do The something that I can do Adapted From: Edward Everett Hale 41

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