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Learning Disability

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Submitted By leigha
Words 1981
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Abstract
Learning Disabilities, a problem people are facing in today’s society, can be caused by a variety of factors. Learning Disabilities can be caused by factors such as genetic influences, brain development, and environmental impact. There are many methods used to determine a learning disability. Researchers have pinpointed risks that, if left untreated, can lead to future problems with the person. A history of disorders; behaviors such as pronunciation, cooperation such as turn taking, and keeping focus on a task, are some signs of a learning disability. Treatments are readily available to better these risks. These treatments include special education, speech and language therapy, and in some cases, medications can help to enhance the child’s strengths and weaknesses as well as enhancing their attention and concentration.

Why are preschoolers not diagnosed with learning disabilities? Learning disabilities are faced by many people in the world today. Aram, Morris and Hall (1992) define learning disability as the impairment or deviant development of comprehension and/or use of a spoken, written, and/or other symbol system. Someone with a learning disability may have trouble with the form of language such as the use of the phonological, morphologic, and syntactic systems. One may have trouble with language content which includes the grammatical points of language, the sound system of the language, and new vocabulary one will learn.
Learning disabilities can occur from genetic influences, lack of brain development, and environmental impact (Harring & Lovett, 1992). Courtman and Mumby (2008) estimate that 40–80% of children with learning disabilities have no identifiable cause. The most common identifiable cause however is typically a genetic influence. A genetic influence can be seen in disorders such as Down syndrome, Turner’s syndrome, and Kleinfelter’s syndrome. In each of these syndromes, the chromosomes may translocate meaning that there was a transfer of a chromosome segment to a new position. Also, the chromosomes may have an abnormality involving a chromosome that is not an exact multiple of the set. There may also just be a gene abnormality within the chromosomes. Researchers think that learning disabilities can be traced to brain development, both before and after birth. Lack of brain development can be a cause to having a learning disability and for this reason problems such as low birth weight, lack of oxygen, or premature birth may occur in a child. If a head injury occurs, young children may also be at risk of developing learning disabilities because part of the brain may have been damaged during the accident. Environmental impacts are another factor that can cause a person to have a learning disability. Everyone is at risk to environmental toxins (poisons). A few years ago, research showed that lead, which can be found in homes in the form of lead paint or lead water pipes, is sometimes thought to contribute to a child’s learning disability because lead is a poisonous material to animals as well as human beings. It can damage the nervous system and cause brain disorders which would lead to a learning disability especially if a young child is exposed to it. Also, poor nutrition early on in a child’s life can also lead to learning disabilities later in a child’s life.
Learning disabilities are disorders that can affect the way a child develops throughout their school years and in some social situations. Some signs of a child having a learning disability are, a child with lower capability than an average student and low academic performance. Also, signs such as a child that has trouble cooperating in group situations, disruptive behavior, and has a lack of interest in games (Wood & Valdez-Menchaca, 1996). A child with a learning disability may show signs of speech delay, receptive and expressive language delay, and directionality problems (Harring & Lovett, 1992). One can have gross or fine motor delays, attention problems, hyperactivity, immature reasoning abilities, visual and/or auditory perceptual problems. A young child may have trouble or lack of academic readiness skills such as alphabet knowledge, and may struggle with social and/or affective skills deficit.
There are many different methods used to diagnose learning disabilities. The most widely used of all the methods is the simple discrepancy model, also known as the grade-level discrepancy. The grade-level discrepancy method is a method in which the “difference between the child’s actual grade level and his or her achievement grade level” (Proctor & Prevatt, 2003). The simple discrepancy method measures how far a particular child has fallen behind one’s peers. It is used to identify discrepancies between ability and achievement. Depending on the school the recommendations, how far a child must fall behind before special-education services are based on that schools criteria. Another model used is the intraindmodel. This procedure is most appropriate when the reason for testing is to determine why the child has had difficulty, to explain how the difficulty relates to academic performance, and to select appropriate interventions (Proctor and Prevatt, 2003). The method of determining discrepancy and the degree of discrepancy required among these states have been inconsistent.
Generally a child would not be diagnosed with a learning disability until about the 3rd grade when reading abilities and group interaction is more in affect. Children in preschool are not diagnosed with learning disabilities for variety of reasons. Researchers and special educators have recognized that labeling a child with a learning disability may help to identify a child’s strengths and weaknesses, establish a diagnosis, enhance the opportunity for financial support, suggest intervention options, and provide foundations for research on etiology and prevention (Wood & Valdez-Menchaca, 1996). Although, labeling can help a child, it can also serve a communicative function that reduces the dissonance between the child’s display or behavior and adults’ expectations for the child (Wood & Valdez-Menchaca, 1996). Diagnosing a child with a learning disability tends to put a label on the child that causes misunderstandings of a child’s potential and a disregard for individual differences. Labeling or diagnosing a preschooler with a learning disability may cause negative insights, stereotypes, and discrimination. Labeling a child as learning disabled is educationally unnecessary (Wood & Valdez-Menchaca, 1996).
Labeling can be held off till later school years. Labeling tends to lower the expectations of teachers who are delivering services to the special learner (Harring & Lovett, 1992). Adults and children labeled with a learning disability are less likely to be treated normally; his/her opportunities for normal schooling become lowered because the main focus of the teachers and peers is on the student’s weaknesses instead of his/her strengths.
In some cases, when a teacher is aware that a child has a learning disability it can change the student-teacher relationship and lead to differential treatment because of the preconceived ideas regarding the students ability(Harring & Lovett, 1992). Once a child is labeled it can cause a lasting stigma that follows the student throughout life and can carry over into the child’s school years and future career (Courtman & Mumby, 20008).
However, because learning disabilities are misunderstood, many people tend to be more tolerant of people with learning disabilities. Labeling a child as learning disabled tends to make adults have different expectations of the child due to her own behavior or due to the use of a diagnostic label as an explanation of her behavior (Wood & Valdez-Menchaca, 1996). In reality, however, people with learning disabilities should be taught appropriate social skills and behavior because the child will be exposed to an environment that is less protected. As the child grows up, people will not be aware that one may have a learning disability and the child will be punished for inappropriate behavior if not addressed in early childhood. The child should be addressed early on in their school years and be taught functional, appropriate social skills and classroom behavior before being exposed to it in a less protected environment.
People who become diagnosed with a learning disability can and may feel upset at first because they may feel that it is a bad thing. Instead it is the first step in resolving the condition. Services that are available to help a child with a learning disability are speech therapy, test accommodations, and resource room.
When a child’s particular problem is identified, he or she can then take to proper steps towards improving the problem or take medicine that may help manage with the disability. Taking steps to manage the disability can often help restore ones self-esteem, self-image, self- concept, and confidence.
Students who have established that they have a learning disability are able to work with a special teacher or tutor, if they choose. The tutor will work with them one-on-one to help them improve on certain skills. The student may be pulled from class time or can meet with a speech-language pathologist after school for a few hours a week to learn certain study skills, note-taking strategies, and/or structural techniques that may help the student with their learning disability.
If a child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, she may need support just for the subjects that give her the most trouble. In school, students may go to a special classroom to work on the subjects or the child may be put in resource room with a teacher who is trained in the particular subject to help students improve on their learning problem. This will help a student succeed more and become more comfortable with their disability.
The IDEA or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, identifies and provides services to young children who have a learning disability (Harring & Lovett, 1992). First, a child is identified as needing services. The child is then evaluated and their eligibility is determined. If a child is found eligible for services an IEP or Individualized Education Program meeting is scheduled. At the meeting, the IEP team, which includes the parents, teachers, and child; talk about the child’s needs and discuss an appropriate IEP for the child. The IEP is then written out and the school and parents get a copy. At school the services discussed are provided; services may include certain accommodations, modifications and aid that the IEP suggest the child needs (Harring & Lovett, 1992). Throughout the child’s schooling years their progress is measured and reported to the parents. The IEP is eventually reviewed again and the child is reevaluated to keep the IEP up-to-date and show the progress of the child.
Medication can also be prescribed to some students with learning disabilities. Medication is often prescribed to help students with learning disabilities dealing with their attention span. There are a number of medications for sale today that can help improve a student's attention span and improve a student’s ability to focus and help control urges and other hyperactive behavior.
Although there is no specific treatment for people with learning disabilities and one cannot outgrow it, it is never too late to get help to improve on your learning disability. Many people with a learning disability will eventually adapt to the fact that they learn differently than their peers and will find strategies that work best for them and help them accomplish task, goals, desires, and dreams.

References
Aram, D. M., Morris, R., & Hall, N. E. (1992). The validity of discrepancy criteria for identifying children with developmental language disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25, 549-554.
Courtman, S., & Mumby, D. (2008). Children with learning disabilities. Pediatric Anesthesia, 18(3), 198-207
Harring, K. A. & Lovett, D. L. (1992). Labeling preschoolers as learning disabled: A cautionary position. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 12(2), 152-73.
Proctor, B. & Prevatt, F. (2003). Agreement among four models used for diagnosing learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36 (5), 459-66.
Wood, M. & Valdez-Menchaca, M. C. (1996). The effect of a diagnostic label of language delay on adults' perception of preschool children. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29(6), 582-595.

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