Eleven-year-old Anna is outgoing and bright. She attempts to work hard, but her progress in school has always been slow. She is a year behind her peers, particularly in her English class and her teachers have slowly begun to reduce their expectations of her. Her parents are worried because her confidence for learning is decreasing, and there is less motivation for her to do homework and class assignments. A psychologist found that her intelligence is in the gifted range, but she has difficulty in making out written symbols. It is easy to make the assumption that Anna seems merely as a child who is slow intellectually, but when taking a closer look, it shows that she is just as intelligent but happens to suffer from a learning disorder. Students with learning disorders have brain impairments that make it difficult for them to acquire skills and knowledge accurately and fast enough to keep pace with average academic progress (Encarta, 2003, p.1). The purpose of this research paper is to investigate the causes of learning disorders, various types of disabilities, their causes, and finally how in today’s modern era assistive technology is able to reduce the frustration of students and increase their level of performance.
Defining Learning Disorders/Disabilities
The IDEA (The Health & Fitness Association) 1997 Definition of Learning Disabilities is:
“A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia” (Greenbaum & Markel, 2001, p.20).
The federal government passed the Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975; the law required public schools to provide special education services for students with learning disabilities. With this mandate, came the difficulty of defining what exactly a learning disability constitutes. Learning Disabilities generally is viewed as a “category in federal legislation referring to disorders involved in understanding or using language, manifested in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations (EBSCO, 2005, p.1).” Students with learning disabilities have average or above-average intelligence but suffer from impaired brain functions or also known as neurological handicaps. This impairment makes it difficult for them to acquire skills and knowledge accurately and fast enough to keep pace with average academic progress. Once believed to be rare, learning disabilities are now believed to affect approximately 5 percent of the population (Encarta, 2003, p.1); many experts believe the percentage to be actually higher. Learning disabilities do not refer to a single disorder, but to a wider range of...