Learning Disabilities

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1 Mking difference in the lives of children, youth nd fmilies Lerning Disbilities Lynn s story Lynn is typicl 10 yer old who likes sports nd hnging out with her friends. She is n verge student, getting B s in ll subjects, except for mth Mth hs lwys been tough for her compred to other subjects. But this yer, she s been filing ll her mth clsses. Even when she sks her techer for help, she still doesn t understnd. Her dd thinks, Well, I wsn t good t mth either, so tht s why she s filing. Her mom thinks tht Lynn is being lzy nd she should just work hrder. Is Lynn s trouble with mth becuse she is lzy or becuse she hs her dd s bd mth gene? Or could it be something else? Wht is Lerning Disbility (LD)? A lerning disbility (LD) is kind of lerning problem. It hppens when person with verge or bove-verge bilities for thinking nd resoning hs trouble lerning certin skills. A lerning disbility: Is specific difficulty in one re (for exmple, mth or reding); Cn rnge from mild to severe; Is not the sme s n intellectul (thinking) disbility (which ws clled mentl retrdtion in the pst). An intellectul disbility cuses lerning problems in mny res. If my child hs trouble lerning, does tht men she hs lerning disbility? She might, but she might not. There cn be mny cuses for lerning problems, like: Lerning disbilities; Lower intellectul bility (problems with thinking nd resoning in mny res); Stresses like emotionl or behviourl problems. Types of lerning disbilities Acdemic skills Children nd youth with cdemic lerning disbilities cn hve problems with: Reding (phonics, recognizing words or understnding printed text) Writing (spelling, creting sentences, grmmr, using punctution, expressing thoughts in writing) Mth (resoning, functions like dding, subtrcting, multiplying nd dividing) Orgniztion & focus These executive functions llow us to pln, think hed nd py ttention. Problems in these res cn hve big impct on how we lern nd mnge our dy to dy lives. Lerning disbilities in these res cn mke it chllenging for some students to orgnize their time, finish homework, nd remembering when tests nd ssignments re coming up. Some students my often lose schoolwork, books, clothes or lunch bgs. Some people see ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperctivity Disorder) s lerning disbility becuse ADHD ffects these executive functions). Most professionls or school bords do not think ADHD is lerning disbility. A word bout socil skills... Lerning to work nd ply with others is n importnt skill. Children nd youth who hve trouble picking up on socil cues, fcil expressions nd body lnguge cn hve difficulty mking friends nd getting long with others t school. Such socil difficulties re not lerning disbilities. But children who experience them cn benefit when eduction progrms include socil skill building ctivities. Form # P 5626E December 2012

2 Wht Cuses lerning disbilities? Most lerning disbilities re present t birth, nd result from the wy child s brin develops. It is lso possible for child to develop lerning disbility fter brin injury or other problems tht effect the brin (like epilepsy). Lerning disbilities re not cused by poor prenting, poverty or child s lck of motivtion (lthough these things cn definitely ffect lerning). There is no cure for lerning disbility, nd children don t outgrow them. But with support, children nd youth cn lern to mnge LDs effectively in their dily lives. How common re lerning disbilities? According to Sttistics Cnd, (2006), bout 3.2% of Cndin children hve lerning disbility. Tht s bout 1 out of every 31 children in Cnd, bout 1 student in every clssroom. Impct of Lerning Disbilities Lerning disbilities cn hve mjor impcts on child s life, becuse so much of child s life t home, school nd with peers depends on lerning. But the gretest impct is t school. Children nd youth with difficulties reding nd writing will need support in subjects like history, geogrphy, science nd lnguge rts. A lerning disbility my be even more obvious when techers use methods tht mke lerning even more chllenging for the child or teen. For exmple: Teching by tlking or lecturing, without using visul ids (like digrms or written text) cn mke lerning difficult for students who re visul lerners. Clssrooms where there is n emphsis on writing will be difficult for students with writing disbilities. Technology tht emphsizes the shring of ides hs mde big difference for some students. Softwre is now vilble to: Red text loud. This llows the student to focus on the mening of the informtion, rther thn struggling with recognizing or sounding out words. Convert speech into writing. Agin, this llows students to focus on wht they wnt to sy, rther thn struggling with how to spell it nd put it into sentence tht mkes sense to others. The good news The right environment cn relly improve the potentil for lerning in children nd youth with LDs. Some people believe tht the min problem is our eduction system itself, which mostly teches in one wy, mking it difficult for children nd youth who lern in different wys. The impct of lerning disbility lso depends on the child, nd how much the mode of lerning they struggle with is used in their life. Children nd youth with lerning disbilities involving reding or writing my do very well in other subjects, like mth, physics, sports, music, dnce, design or construction. On the other hnd, children nd youth with disbilities tht ffect mth skills my do very well in subjects involving reding nd writing.

3 Conditions tht often occur long with lerning disbilities Children nd youth with lerning disbilities my lso hve problems with: Attention. Mny children with lerning disbilities lso hve Attention Deficit Hyperctivity Disorder (ADHD), mking it difficult for them to focus nd py ttention. Mood, nxiety nd behviour. Lerning disbilities cn mke school nd lerning more chllenging. They my lso ffect socil reltionships. These stresses cn ffect moods, nd cuse nxiety nd behviour problems. It s 2 wy street, though. Problems with mood, nxiety nd behviour lso ffect lerning. Listening nd speking (which my be prt of Communiction Disorder). Coordinting lrge or smll muscle movements. This cn men difficulties wlking, running, throwing bll or plying sports. It cn lso men trouble with hnd writing, drwing or other hnd movements. How do I know if my child hs lerning disbility? Students with lerning disbilities my: Get poorer grdes in just one subject re. For exmple, student who does well in ll subjects, but is struggling with mth. Hve to work very hrd (hrder thn most other students) to get resonble grdes. For exmple, student who usully gets Bs, but must work extr hrd for pssing grde in Lnguge Arts. Wht should I do if I think my child hs lerning disbility? Check hering nd vision. Problems hering or seeing cn hve big impct on lerning. Strt by tking your child to see your fmily doctor or peditricin. You cn lso tke your child to n optometrist for vision testing. Spek with the school bout your concerns. School bords hve psychologists who cn ssess your child (psycho-eductionl ssessment). After these detiled tests bout how your child lerns, psychologist cn then decide if your child hs lerning disbility or not. Wit lists for this testing cn be long. Some prents choose to py to hve psychologist in privte prctice ssess their child. If your child speks 2 lnguges (for exmple, French nd English), try to find psychologist who speks both of these lnguges. It my be tht your child is hving trouble lerning in 2nd lnguge. Prenting child or teen with lerning disbility Adjust your expecttions to wht your child or teen cn do. Children nd youth do well if they cn. If they cn t do well, it my be the lerning disbility tht mkes it hrd for them to meet their prents expecttions. Be s ptient s you cn. The LD is problem with the brin s wiring -it s not your child s fult. Look for nd encourge your child s strengths, interests, nd bilities. Help your child or teen find chnces to do well t things. You cn lso use your child s interests to help with school. For exmple, if your child hs trouble reding, but loves hockey, books bout hockey my help her work on her reding skills. Focus on the effort nd the process, insted of grdes or the outcome. Wow, you hve put so much work into this project! You hve chosen some beutiful colours for this I m proud of how hrd you re working Think of how fr you ve come with this! I know this hsn t been esy, but you ve done gret job t sticking with it!

4 Lighten the lod. Some high school students my do better in school with lighter course lod. It s oky to tke little longer to finish high school-students tke n extr yer for mny resons. The diplom t the end is wht s importnt, not the time it took. Don t let the lerning disbility define your child or teen. Remind yourself (nd your child!) of your child s strengths nd interests. Shre your wisdom. If you hve lerning disbility, plese shre your experience nd coping strtegies. Nobody will understnd wht your child is experiencing better thn someone who s wlked the sme rod. Help youth tke dvntge of lerning supports. Colleges nd universities hve mny supports for students with lerning disbilities. When students strt t college or university, they need to bring report tht confirms the LD dignosis nd outlines the results of their psycho-eductionl ssessment (done in the lst 2 yers). Students cn then get the ccomodtions they need for clsses, ssignments or tests. How to help child or teen with lerning disbility There re mny wys to mke lerning esier for children nd youth with LD: Brek down lrge tsks into smller ones. Tech specific skills. Children nd youth my need help lerning to orgnize their time, use n gend or follow schedule. Accommodte the student. Chnge the lerning environment to mking lerning esier by: Developing n Individul Eduction Pln (IEP) tht is bsed on the student s needs nd strengths. Ask the techer if n IEP is possible. Offering resource period in high school, so students hve more time to complete school work. Specil seting ssignments. Creting ssignments tht mtch with the student s bilities. Modifying tests (for exmple, orl tests insted of written ones). Exmples of ccomodtions for students with writing disbility: Give written hndouts to students with writing disbilities Allow students to use keybords for notes nd ssignments Give extr time for tests nd ssignments Accomodtions for students with spelling disbilities: Allowing spell checkers, electronic dictionries Tech compenstory strtegies. Tech students to use their lerning strengths to go round their lerning disbility. For exmple: Allow students who lern better by listening (uditory lerners) to tlk loud to themselves to orgnize their thoughts. Use drwings, digrms or demonstrtions to explin things to students who lern better by seeing (visul lerners). Tech students to spek up for themselves (self-dvoccy skills). Tech students how to explin their unique lerning needs to others nd to sk for pproprite supports nd ccomodtions.

5 Working with your child s school Strt by mking sure tht there is copy of your child s psycho- eductionl testing in your child s school records. Ontrio School Records (OSR) re kept in the school s min office. At the beginning of ech school yer, remind techers to review this report. 1 Spek with techers bout your child or teen s lerning disbility. Work together to come to common understnding of: The exct problem (dignosis) How much help nd support is needed Where your child or teen will receive help 2 IPRC (Identifiction Plcement Review Committee) Once your child hs been dignosed with lerning disbility, the school will usully set up n IPRC meeting. Prents cn sk for one s well. Once you mke the request, the school hs 30 dys to respond. The IPRC will include: The school principl or vice-principl Your child s techer A resource techer Prents During the IPRC meeting, members will review the test results nd ny other reports, discuss concerns nd decide if your child or teen should be formlly identified s hving exceptionl lerning needs. The psychologist who ssessed your child nd mde the dignosis cn guide nd dvise you through this process. Once the IPRC grees tht your child or teen hs exceptionl lerning needs, this group will meet once yer. During these meetings, the IPRC will review the student s progress, nd whether or not the lerning supports re helping. Be sure to ttend ech of these meetings. These yerly meetings give you chnce to spek up for your child. They will help you understnd how school stff decides which lerning supports your child will receive, nd if lerning supports will continue. 3 IEP (Individul Eduction Pln) Techers develop these plns for students who need extr support or ccommodtions in clss. IEPs re developed for: All students who hve been formlly identified by the IPRC Students hving trouble in school, but hve not been dignosed with lerning disbility. IEPs re only binding if they were developed fter n IPRC. This mens tht IEPs developed without the IPRC process cn chnge or be cncelled if the school s budget chnges. IEPs cn include ccommodtions (s discussed erlier) or chnges to the curriculum content if students cn t succeed t their current grde level. For exmple, in the Ottw-Crleton District School Bord (OCDSB) in Ontrio, Cnd, the min levels of school support re: Regulr Clss with modified progrm: the student stys in the regulr clssroom, but the techer mkes chnges to the school expecttions for tht student. Regulr Clss with Resource Assistnce (Specil Eduction Resource Support Progrm): the student cn leve the regulr clssroom to go to resource room where resource techer cn give extr help. Specil Eduction Lerning Centre (SELC): the student spends ll or prt of the dy in smll specil eduction clss System-bsed progrms: the student spends time in smll specil eduction clss, often t different school.

6 Should my child repet grde or be promoted to the next grde with modified progrm? In most cses lerning the sme mteril second time (even with supports) doesn t help ll tht much. The lerning disbility will still be there. Reserch suggests tht repeting grde does not relly benefit students, nd hs negtive impct on self esteem. It s better to provide effective ccomodtions tht llow students to remin with their peers. Lynn s Story, Prt 2 Lynn s prents express their concerns to the techer, who grees with them. Lynn is plced on school witlist, nd is eventully seen by the school psychologist for psycho-eductionl ssessment. The ssessment shows tht Lynn hs lerning disbility in mth. Lynn s school rrnge for n IPRC, nd Lynn s techer develops n IEP for her. With little extr tutoring, the use of clcultor nd more time for tests, Lynn is doing much better in mth. The school psychologist lso offers some good suggestions for coping with the nxiety tht sometimes comes with mth homework nd tests. Evenings t home re much clmer now, since the fights over mth homework hve stopped. Support nd Advoccy Groups Lerning Disbilities Assocition of Ottw-Crleton , Lerning Disbilities Assocition of Ontrio Lerning Disbilities Assocition of Cnd (LDAC) Books nd resources Plese check out CHEO s Kitlin Atkinson Fmily Resource Librry for books, videos, DVDs nd resource lists for mny helth topics. Serch online t: About this Document Written by the Mentl Helth Informtion Committee t the Children s Hospitl of Estern Ontrio (CHEO), nd reviewed by members of the Child nd Youth Mentl Helth Informtion Network (www.cymhin.c). License: Under Cretive Commons License. You re free to shre, copy nd distribute this work s in its entirety, with no ltertions. This work my not be used for commercil purposes. View full license t Disclimer: Informtion in this fct sheet my or my not pply to your child. Your helth cre provider is the best source of informtion bout your child s helth.

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