LEARNING DISABILITIES

LD ONLINE
LEARNING DISABILITIES
LEARNING DISABILITIES--FAST FACTS
What should you look for
pre k
GRADES K-4
GRADES 5-8
NATIONAL CENTER FOR LEARNING DISABILITIES
NON-VERBAL LEARNING DISABILITY WEBSITE
IEP Individualized Education Plans
Word Finding Web site provides information about Word Finding for professionals, parents, and learners with word finding difficulties.
Birth Month Linked to Learning Disability
CDC Study Confirms ADHD/Learning Disability Link
What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder
PERSONAL STORIES LD BOOKS
Mooney, Jonathan , Cole, David Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities andADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution Simon & Schuster 2000
Peterson's Colleges With Programs for Students With Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders (Peterson's Colleges With Programs for students by Peterson's Guides (Editor), et al; Paperback
Siegel, Lawrence M.,The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child
The K&W Guide to Colleges : For Students With Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder (K&W Guide to Colleges for Students With Learning di
by Marybeth Kravets, Imy F. Wax
Learning How to Learn : Getting into and Surviving College When You Have a Learning Disability by Joyanne Cobb
Learning Disabilities Association of America 4156 Library Road Pittsburgh, PA 15234Telephone: 412/341-1515
National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs  P.O. Box 716Bryn Mawr, PA 19010Telephone: 610/525-8336 or 800/869-8336


 Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Jennifer, 9, seems to pay attention when the teacher works with her one-on-one. But when there are group discussions, she spends most of her time looking out the window. The teacher is complaining she doesn't participate in class, and is giving Jennifer lower grades as a result.

Shawn, 12, was supposed to be home in time for his dentist's appointment at 3:30. But when he finally walked in the house at five o'clock, he was surprised to hear about the appointment and that his mother had reminded him about it that morning.

Normal kids? Or is something else going on?

Life is complicated these days, for children as much as adults. There is a lot to remember and a lot to do. But sometimes a child may seem to be more than simply distracted by a complex life. If you think there may be a problem with your child, answer these questions:

    * Is your child easily distracted or unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises?
    * Are noisy environments upsetting?
    * Does behavior and performance improve in quieter settings?
    * Does your child have difficulty following directions, whether simple or complicated ones?
    * Does your child have reading, spelling, writing or other speech-language difficulties?
    * Is abstract information difficult to comprehend?
    * Are verbal (word) math problems difficult?
    * Is your child disorganized and forgetful?
    * Are conversations hard for your child to follow?

These, as well as other behaviors, may be signs of a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), an often misunderstood problem. CAPD is misunderstood because many of the behaviors noted above may also appear in other conditions such as learning disability (LD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), and even depression. Symptoms of CAPD can range from mild to severe, and can take many different forms. Trained professionals, such as speech-language pathologists and audiologists who specialize in CAPD, can determine if your child has a central auditory processing disorder.

What Is CAPD?
Central auditory processing disorder occurs when the ear and the brain do not coordinate fully. Assuming your child's hearing is good (and this should be verified by an audiologist), auditory information breaks down somewhere beyond the ear. The causes of CAPD are varied and can include head trauma, lead poisoning, possibly chronic ear infections - and unknown reasons. Because there are many different possibilities - even combinations of causes - each child has to be assessed on an individual basis.

Problem Areas
Here are the five main problem areas that can affect both home and school activities in children with CAPD.

   1. Auditory Figure-Ground Problems: This is when the child cannot pay attention when there is noise in the background. Noisy, low-structured classrooms could be very frustrating to this child.
   2. Auditory Memory Problems: This is when the child has difficulty remembering information such as directions, lists or study materials. It can exist on an immediate basis ("I can't remember it now") and/or a deferred basis ("I can't remember it when I need it for later").
   3. Auditory Discrimination Problems: This is when the child has difficulty hearing the difference between sounds or words that are similar (COAT/BOAT or CH/SH). This problem can affect following directions, reading, spelling, and writing skills, among others.
   4. Auditory Attention Problems: This is when the child cannot maintain focus for listening long enough to complete a task or requirement (listening to a lecture in school). Although health, motivation and attitude may also affect attention, among other factors, a child with CAPD cannot (not will not) maintain attention.
   5. Auditory Cohesion Problems: This is when higher level listening tasks are difficult. Auditory cohesion skills - drawing inferences from conversations,  understanding riddles, or comprehending verbal math problems - require heightened auditory processing and language levels. They develop best when all the other skills (levels one through four above) are intact.

If your child has CAPD, there are strategies that can be used at home to alleviate some of the problem behaviors.

"Never Follows Directions"
Difficulty with following directions is possibly the single most common complaint. Reducing background noise, having your child look at you when you are speaking and using simple, expressive sentences usually help significantly. Speaking at a slightly slower rate and at a mildly increased volume may also help. Ask your child to repeat the directions back to you aloud and to keep repeating them aloud (or to herself) until the directions are completed. Make certain your child understands the directions and isn't just parroting your words. You can be more certain of this if your child is able to rephrase the directions. "Take the garbage to the side of the house," may be restated, "You want me to take the garbage, not to the front, but to the side of the house."

For directions that are to be completed at a later time, writing notes, wearing a watch, and maintaining a predicable routine in the household also help. General organization and scheduling appear beneficial to many children with CAPD.

It's important to teach your child to be responsible and actively involved in her own success. Your child can be encouraged to notice noisy environments, for example, and move to quieter places when listening is necessary.

Your child should realize that she has a responsibility to use the strategies taught in speech-language therapy, and to do so on a continuing basis. When she chooses to do so, success at home and in school is more likely.

Other home strategies are helpful. Providing your child with a quiet study place (not the kitchen table), maintaining a peaceful, organized lifestyle, encouraging good eating and sleeping habits, assigning regular and realistic chores, including keeping a neat room and desk, and building your child's self-esteem are all very important goals. Your model of these behaviors goes far toward encouraging them in your child.

As a parent, keep in regular contact with school personnel regarding your child's progress. Provide your child with whatever aids may help in class, such as an assignment pad or a tape recorder. Discuss seating plans with the classroom teacher (a child with CAPD should sit toward the front of the room with her back to the windows), as well as specific plans for problem academic areas.

One of the most important things that both a parent and teacher should do is to realize that CAPD is real. Symptoms and behaviors are not within the child's control. What is within the child's control is the recognition of these problems and the application of the strategies learned in therapy.

A positive, realistic attitude and healthy self-esteem in a child with CAPD can work wonders.

Updated and reviewed by: Stacy Konde, MA, CCC-A
Date reviewed: August 2001
Originally reviewed by: Steven Cook, MD

 What Should You Look For?
Most kids have some problems in school at one time or another. Some struggle with a specific subject while others have trouble relating to a certain style of teaching. Sometimes learning disabilities are blamed on lack of motivation, immaturity, or behavior problems. But if your child has significant ongoing problems with the "3 R's" -- basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic then he may have a learning disability.
Because each child has a unique set of strengths and challenges, you'll want to talk with the teacher, other school staff, family members, and your child to get their input. As you think about the following factors, ask yourself if your child has shown these characteristics to a greater degree than normal for her age, over a period of time, and in different environments, e.g., school, home, child care settings, community.

 Preschool
Speaks later than most kids

Is unable to find the right word when carrying on a conversation

Can't rapidly name words in a specific category

Has difficulty rhyming

Has trouble learning alphabet, days of the week, colors, shapes, numbers

Is extremely restless and easily distracted

Can't follow directions or routines

 Grades K-4
Is slow to learn the connections between letters and sounds

Can't blend sounds to make words

Makes consistent reading and spelling errors

Has problems remembering sequences and telling time

Is slow to learn new skills

Has difficulty planning

 Grades 5-8
Is slow to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other reading strategies

Avoids reading aloud

Has difficulty with word problems in math

Spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing

Avoids reading and writing tasks

Has difficulty remembering or understanding what she had read

Works slowly

Has difficulty understanding and/or generalizing concepts

Misreads directions and information


 
LD Fast Facts

2.9 million students are currently receiving special education services for learning disabilities in the U.S.
(Source: 23rd Annual Report to Congress, 2001)

51% of students receiving special education services through the public schools are identified as having learning disabilities.
(Source: 23rd Annual Report to Congress, 2001)

The majority of all individuals with learning disabilities have difficulties in the area of reading.
(Source: President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education, 2002)

44% of parents who noticed their child exhibiting signs of difficulty with learning waited a year or more before acknowledging their child might have a serious problem. (Source: Roper Starch Poll: Measuring Progress in Public and Parental Understanding of Learning Disabilities, 2000)

27% of children with learning disabilities drop out of high school.
(Source: 23rd Annual Report to Congress, 2001)

40% of full-time college freshmen with disabilities attending 4-year colleges reported having a learning disability.
(Source: HEATH Resource Center, 2001)

In the past 9 years, the percentage of students who spend 80% or more of their time in school in special education classes increased from 21 to 45%.
(Source: 23rd Annual Report to Congress, 2001)

29% of undergraduate students with disabilities reported having a learning disability.
(Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2000)

Only 13% of students with learning disabilities (compared to 53% of students in general population) have attended a 4-year post-secondary school program within two years of leaving high school.
(Source: National Longitudinal Transition Study, 1994)

46% of all students with disabilities enrolled at two-year and four-year post-secondary education institutions reported having learning disabilities.
(Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2000)

Copyright 1999-2002 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Posted on 9/27/2002


 Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

Today more than ever, the education system is striving to ensure that all children receive an education that is appropriate for their abilities. Children with delayed skills or skills advanced for their age level may be eligible for special services that can provide individualized instruction and programs in public schools, free of charge to your family. If you understand how to access these services, you will be a better advocate for what your child needs.
Following the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 97), parents of children with special needs have become even more important members of their child's education team, working with educators to develop a plan that will help their child succeed in school. This individualized education plan (IEP) describes the goals the team has set for the child for the school year, as well as any special supports that are needed to help achieve those goals.
Who Needs an IEP?
A child who has difficulty learning and functioning in a regular classroom with peers is the perfect candidate for an IEP. Children who are struggling in school may qualify for support services for a variety of reasons. Some have learning disabilities that make it difficult to read or process information. Others have disabilities - such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, emotional disorders, mental retardation,  autism, hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech or language impairment, or developmental delay - which require that they be taught in a special way. Other children have advanced skills, either overall or in one specific area of learning such as math or reading, and need an enriched education curriculum so they do not become bored.
In most cases, the services and goals outlined in an IEP can be provided in a standard school environment. This can be done in the regular classroom (for example, a reading teacher helping a small group of children who need extra assistance while the other kids in the class work on reading with the regular teacher) or in a special resource room in the regular school. The resource room can serve a group of children with similar needs who are brought together for help.
However, children who need intense intervention may be taught in a special school environment. These classes have fewer students per teacher, allowing for more individualized attention. In addition, the teacher usually has specific training in helping children with special educational needs. The children spend most of their day in a special classroom and join the regular classes for nonacademic activities (like music and gym) or in academic activities in which they don't need extra help. Because it is the goal of IDEA 97 to make sure that each child is educated in the least restrictive environment possible, usually every effort is made to help children stay in a regular classroom. But when the child's needs are best met in a special class, then she may be placed in one.
The Referral and Evaluation Process
The referral process generally begins when a teacher or parent notices a child is having trouble in the classroom, and the teacher notifies the school counselor or psychologist. The first step is to determine whether the child qualifies for special services. It is important to note that the presence of a disability does not automatically guarantee the child will receive services. For a child to be eligible, the disability must affect the child's functioning at school.
To determine a child's eligibility, a multidisciplinary team of professionals will evaluate the child based on their observations and the child's performance on standardized tests. As a parent, you can decide whether to have your child assessed. If you choose to do so, you will be asked to sign a permission form, which will describe the kinds of people involved in the process and the types of tests they use. These tests may include measures of specific school skills, such as reading or math, as well as more general developmental skills, such as speech and language. The professionals on the evaluation team may include a psychologist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a special educator, a vision or hearing specialist, and others, depending on the specific needs of the child.
Once the team members complete their individual assessments, they develop a comprehensive evaluation report (CER) that compiles their findings and outlines the skills and support the child will need. The parents then have a chance to review the report before the IEP is developed.
Development of an IEP
The next step is an IEP meeting at which the team and parents decide what will go into the plan. In addition to the evaluation team, a regular teacher should be present to offer suggestions about how the plan can help the child's progress in the standard education curriculum.
At the meeting, the team will discuss your child's educational needs - as described in the CER - and come up with specific, measurable short-term and annual goals for each of those needs. If you attend this meeting, you can take an active role in helping develop the goals and determining which skills or areas will receive the most attention.
The cover page of the IEP outlines the support services your child will receive and how often they will be provided (for example, occupational therapy two times per week). Support services may include special education, speech therapy, occupational or  physical therapy, counseling, audiology, medical services, nursing, vision or hearing therapy, and many others.
If the team recommends several services, the amount of time they take in the child's school schedule can seem overwhelming. To ease that load, some services may be provided on a consultative basis. In these cases, the professional consults with the teacher to come up with strategies to help the child but does not offer any hands-on instruction. For instance, an occupational therapist may suggest accommodations for a child with fine motor problems that affect her handwriting, and the classroom teacher would incorporate these suggestions into the handwriting lessons she teaches the entire class. Other services can be delivered right in the classroom using an integrated model, so the child's day is not interrupted by therapy. For the same child who has difficulty with her handwriting, an occupational therapist might work one on one with her while everyone else practices their handwriting skills. When deciding how and where services are offered, the child's comfort and dignity should be a top priority.
The IEP will be reviewed annually to update the goals and make sure the levels of service meet your child's needs. But IEPs can be changed at any time on an as-needed basis. If you feel your child needs more, fewer, or different services, you can request a meeting and bring the team together to discuss your concerns.
What Are Your Legal Rights?
Specific timelines ensure that the development of an IEP moves from referral to providing services as quickly as possible. Be sure to ask about this time frame and pick up a copy of your parent's rights when your child is referred. These guidelines (sometimes called procedural safeguards) outline your rights as a parent to control what happens to your child during every step of the process.
They also describe how you can proceed if you disagree with any part of the CER or the IEP - mediation and hearings are both options. You can obtain information about low-cost or free legal representation from the school district, or, if your child is in Early Intervention (for kids ages 3 to 5), through that program. Attorneys and paid advocates familiar with the IEP process will provide representation should you need it. You may also invite anyone who knows or works with your child to be a part of the IEP team if you feel his or her input would be helpful.
A Final Word
The IEP process is complex, but it is also an effective way to develop a plan that addresses how your child learns and functions. If you have concerns, do not hesitate to ask questions about the evaluation findings or the goals recommended by the team. Parents know their child best and should play a central role in creating a learning plan tailored to the child's specific needs.
Updated and reviewed by:  Rhonda Walter, MD
Date reviewed: October 2002
Originally reviewed by:  Steven Bachrach, MD

 Birth Month Linked to Learning Disability
 from Reuters Health -- by Nancy Deutsch
Unless you are into astrology, you may think there's little to be learned by knowing the month in which a person was born. But researchers now report that the birth month can be relevant when it comes to predicting who may suffer from a learning disorder.
People with learning disabilities are 8% more likely than the rest of the population to have been born in the months of April through July, according to researchers from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield.
Why? Maybe because the mothers of people who are born in those months were in their second trimester of pregnancy during the winter months, explained Dr. Steve C. Capps, at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society in Miami last month.
In the winter, women would have had a greater risk of contacting a viral illness at a point in pregnancy that could have affected the fetus, he told Reuters Health.
Other research has linked season of birth and psychological disorders, with the strongest association to date being made between winter births and schizophrenia, Capps pointed out.
Capps and colleagues asked 98 state university students who were clients of the Learning Diagnostic Clinic about their birth months. Another 14,990 state university students without learning disabilities were used as the comparison (control) group.
Each of the 98 students had been diagnosed with one of the three most common learning disabilities--difficulties with reading, written expression, or mathematics. Diagnoses were made based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria.
When the learning disability group was compared with the control group, they were found to be over 8% more likely to have been born in April through July, than in the other 9 months of the year combined.
Because the association seems to be related to climate, with cold temperature putting pregnant women most at risk for exposure to influenza or other viruses, the researchers plan to study the prevalence of learning disorders among people who live further away from the equator, Capps said.
It is hoped that this research could eventually lead to earlier diagnoses of people with learning disabilities. "We could have better intervention," Capps noted. "That's the hope."