Learning Disabilities: How to Identify Children with a Learning Disability
- 0:07 Identifying Disabilities
- 1:29 Behaviors
- 2:25 Learning Disabilities
- 2:59 Common Disabilities
- 4:49 Lesson Summary
Identifying children with a learning disability can be tricky because it can be confused with a lack of interest in a school subject. In this lesson, we will look at how learning disabilities can be identified and the three most common learning disabilities: dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyslexia.
Identifying Children with Learning Disabilities
Did you have a favorite subject in school? Did you look forward to going to school, or did you dread going? Some children absolutely love school, and some children just don't enjoy it. How can a parent or a teacher tell the difference between a child who just doesn't like school or a particular subject and a child who has a learning disability?
A teacher and a parent can look at the grades of a child, and if they are failing in an area, that could be an indication that they may have a learning disability in that subject.
However, their failing grade could simply be from a lack of interest in the subject, or they could be developmentally delayed in their learning ability. If they are developmentally delayed, they typically are able to catch up with their peers once they are given additional tutoring in the subject. However, if tutoring doesn't help the child, and the student is consistently struggling in one or more subject areas, the parent or the teacher may request that the child be given a diagnostic achievement test. This test is used to determine a student's strengths and weaknesses. However, the assumption that an achievement test makes is that the student is willing to do their very best on the test. Unfortunately, often, if a student doesn't enjoy school, they will be less than enthusiastic to perform well on an achievement test. If this is the case, it becomes important to look at the behavior of the student.
Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors
An important first step in identifying children with learning disabilities is to recognize the behaviors that they typically display. There are many different behaviors that a child with a learning disability can display. However, common behaviors that most children with learning disabilities demonstrate fall into two categories: internalizing and externalizing behaviors.
A child who demonstrates internalizing behaviors is not necessarily an introvert. Instead, they become quiet and withdrawn when faced with a learning situation that they are not confident in. Other internalizing behaviors include boredom, disorganization and inattention.
Likewise, a child who demonstrates externalizing behaviors is not necessarily an extrovert. Instead, they become loud and disruptive when they are faced with learning situations that they are not confident in. Other externalizing behaviors include delinquent behaviors, aggressive behaviors and clowning around.
Learning disability is an umbrella term used to describe many different neurological disorders.
Children with learning disabilities have a glitch in how their brains are wired so that they might have difficulty with reasoning, spelling, writing and reading.
The disorders are often described as disabilities because they may interfere with the student's ability to learn. Many students with a learning disability have average or above-average intelligence. However, many students with a learning disability also struggle with other disorders, such as Autism and ADHD.
Common Types of Learning Disabilities
The three most common learning disabilities are dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyslexia. The prefix 'dys-' is Greek meaning 'an impairment of,' so the three most common disabilities are an impairment of doing math, writing or reading.
Dyscalculia is a learning disability involving math. There is no single type of math disability, and individuals with dyscalculia have a lifelong learning disability. Dyscalculia can also affect people differently at different stages of their lives. Having trouble understanding math does not indicate dyscalculia. Symptoms of dyscalculia vary greatly; however, some common symptoms are the inability to recognize sequences and inability to recall math facts. In order to be successful in math, you have to have a good memory, be able to recognize sequences and have good organizational skills. A student with dyscalculia may have these skills in other areas, but in math, these skills are not present. For example, a student may be able to recall facts like football statistics but may not be able to recall their multiplication tables.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor skills. Dysgraphia covers the physical act of writing, comprehension and synthesizing information. Just having sloppy handwriting doesn't indicate dysgraphia. Symptoms of dysgraphia include difficulty with writing letters and words, organization of thoughts and consistency in neatness.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that impairs a person's language ability. Students with this disability may have difficulty with reading, writing or spelling. Just being a slow reader or poor speller does not indicate dyslexia. Symptoms include difficulties with reading comprehension and inability to understand the meaning of words.
In summary, a learning disability is an umbrella term used to describe many different disorders. Three of the most common disorders found in school-age children are dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyslexia.
There is not one universal method to identifying students with learning disabilities. However, to identify a particular disability, students can be given achievement tests, and their internalizing or externalizing behaviors can be examined.
Chapters in Psychology 102: Educational Psychology
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