CHAPTER 5
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
The federal law states that a student has a learning disability if he
or she
(1) does not achieve at the proper age and ability levels in one
or more of several specific areas when provided with
appropriate learning experiences, and
(2) has a severe discrepancy between achievement and
intellectual ability in one or more of the following areas: (a) oral
expression, (b) listening comprehension, (c) written expression,
(d) basic reading skill, (e) reading comprehension, (f)
mathematics calculation, and (g) mathematics reasoning.
LEARNING DISABILITIES AND ACADEMIC
PERFORMANCE
 Reading is the most difficult skill area for most
students with learning disabilities.
 Language arts, especially spelling, written language,
and spoken language, are closely tied to reading and
also very difficult for many students with learning
disabilities.
 Mathematics can also present problems in
understanding size and spatial relationships,
concepts of direction, place value, fractions,
decimals, and time, and remembering math facts.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LD
ESSENTIAL DIMENSIONS OF A DEFINITION
OF LEARNING DISABILITIES
Heterogeneous group of disorders
Have a neurological basis
Characterized by unexpected achievement
Not the result of other disorders or problems but may
occur with other disabilities
Comprehensive assessment of LD. Children with LD show (1) an academic skill deficit,
(2) underlying cognitive processing problems associated with that academic deficit, and
(3) otherwise normal cognitive functioning (IQ). Based on Flanagan and colleagues
(2010).
The Prevalence of LD

Largest disability category (~2.6 million)

Prevalence remains higher for boys
than girls
PHYSIOLOGICAL CAUSES OF LD
Brain injury
 Prenatal
 Perinatal
 Postnatal
 Heredity


Chemical
imbalance
CURRICULUM AND ENVIRONMENTAL
CONTRIBUTORS
Poor nutrition
 Adverse emotional climate at
home
 Toxins or severe allergies
 Poor teaching
 Lack of stimulation
 Poverty
 Poor instruction

COGNITIVE CHARACTERISTICS
Average or above average intelligence
Weaknesses in one or more areas:
Attention
Perception
Memory
Thinking/processing
THE NORMAL CURVE
DISABILITY IN READING
Word analysis skills
 Phonological awareness difficulties,
dyslexia
Word recognition errors
 Omissions, insertions, substitutions,
reversals
Oral reading
 Insecurity, loses place
PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS
Skill that include identifying and manipulating units of oral
language – parts such as words, syllables, and onsets and
rhymes.
Children who have phonological awareness are able to identify
and make oral rhymes, can clap out the number of syllables
in a word, and can recognize words with the same initial
sounds like 'money' and 'mother.‘
Students at risk for reading difficulty often have lower levels of
phonological awareness and phonemic awareness than do
their classmates.
WORD DECODING AND PHONICS
Decoding is the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound
relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to
correctly pronounce written words.
Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to
recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words
they haven't seen before.
Although children may sometimes figure out some of these
relationships on their own, most children benefit from
explicit instruction in this area.
COMPREHENSION
The understanding and interpretation of what is read.
To be able to accurately understand written material, children
need to be able to (1) decode what they read; (2) make
connections between what they read and what they already
know; and (3) think deeply about what they have read.
One big part of comprehension is having a sufficient vocabulary,
or knowing the meanings of enough words.
Readers who have strong comprehension are able to draw
conclusions about what they read – what is important, what
is a fact, what caused an event to happen, which characters
are funny. Thus comprehension involves combining reading
with thinking and reasoning.
ORAL LANGUAGE
Phonology—use of the correct sounds
Morphology– smallest units of the language
Syntax– correct use of grammar
Semantics– meaning of words
Pragmatics– proper use of language
WRITTEN LANGUAGE
Dysgraphia-- deficiency in the ability to write primarily in terms
of handwriting, but also in terms of coherence
 Spelling
 Omission or substitution of letters
 Auditory memory and discrimination difficulties
 Handwriting
 Absence of fine motor skills
 Lack of understanding of spatial
relationships
 Composition
 Sentence structure
 Paragraph organization
 Complexity of stories
DISABILITY IN MATHEMATICS—
DYSCALCULIA
Computation skills
Word problems
Spatial relationships
Writing or copying shapes
Telling time
Understanding fractions/decimals
Measuring
1.8
1.6
1.4
Effect Size (d)
1.2
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
Direct Instruction
Self-Instruction
Mediated/Assisted Instruction
Treatment Method
Effects of mathematics instruction. Youth who receive selfinstruction show the greatest improvement in math skills. However,
direct instruction was particularly effective in improving children’s
computational skills. Based on Kroesbergen and van Luit (2003).
DISABILITY IN MEMORY
Short-term memory
Recalling in correct order, of either orally or visually
presented information shortly after hearing or
seeing the items
Working memory
Retaining information while simultaneously
engaging in another cognitive activity
Success in reading and math depend on this ability
Crucial for word recognition and reading
comprehension
DISABILITY IN METACOGNITION
Lack of awareness of strategies and resources
needed to perform effectively
Inability to monitor, evaluate, and adjust
performance to ensure successful task
completion
DISABILITY IN ATTRIBUTIONS
Students may attribute success to situations
beyond their control such as luck rather than to
their own efforts
 Chronic failure makes success seem
unattainable
 Learned helplessness
 Passive learners
 Deficits in strategic learning behaviors
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL
CHARACTERISTICS
Problems with:
Social perception
Social competence
 Nonverbal learning disabilities
Motivation
BEHAVIOR CHARACTERISTICS
Types of Behavior Problems
 Out-of-seat behavior
 Speaking-out
 Physical or verbal aggression
Problems may be caused by:
 Communication difficulties
 Frustration with academics
 Attention difficulties or hyperactivity
A NEW APPROACH:
RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION (RTI)
Permitted, not required by IDEA 2004
Three-Tiered Model
 All students participate in tier 1, and
educators use proven instructional
methods
 Students who don’t succeed in tier 1
receive supplemental instruction
 Students who don’t succeed in tier 2
receive more intensive interventions
TIERS OF SERVICES IN ACADEMIC
RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION
Source: RTI Action Network
Words per Minute
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Understanding RTI
Benchmark
Goal
Rafe's Score
0 4 8 12 16 20
Week
80
Words per Minute
60
Benchmark
40
Goal
20
0
0 4 8 12 16 20
Week
Ricky's
Score
Rafe (top) responded to groupbased reading intervention in Tier
II of RTI. Treatment will be
discontinued and he will receive
regular reading instruction.
Ricky (bottom) did not respond to
Tier II intervention. He will receive
individualized reading instruction
in Tier III.
Based on Reschly and Bergstrom
(2009).
ELIGIBILITY UNDER RTI
Is the student still exhibiting significant gaps in
learning even though research-based,
individually designed, systematically
delivered, and increasingly intensive
interventions have been provided?
If the team decides that a student is
nonresponsive to intervention, the team may
decide the student has a learning disability.
RESEARCH ON INCLUSIVE PRACTICES
Higher student self-confidence, higher
expectations, improved academic
progress
Higher grades, comparable scores on
achievement tests, better attendance
Better social outcomes when students
attend regular education classes parttime rather than full-time
COMMON OUTCOMES FOR STUDENTS
WITH LD
High dropout rate
Less postsecondary education
Part-time employment
Lower occupational status
Lower wages
MODEL TRANSITION PRACTICES
Include career awareness and exploration
Teach problem-solving, organization, selfadvocacy, and communication skills
Work experiences are valuable
Linkages between students and
community services
Teach students self-advocacy skills
PLANNING FOR OTHER EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
Transition Success Skills for College
(in priority order)
 Understanding their disability
 Understanding their strengths and limitations
 Learning to succeed despite their disability and what
accommodations facilitate learning
 Setting goals and learning how to access resources
 Problem-solving skills
 Self-management skills
 Forming relationships with university personnel, peers,
and mentors
GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF DIRECT INSTRUCTION
Well-organized, sequenced lessons
Short review of previously learned skills
Clear statement of lesson goals
Presentation of new material in small steps
Frequent opportunities for practice
Questions to check for understanding
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Students with Learning Disabilities