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Learning Disabilities Essay

1708 words - 7 pages

Learning Disabilities

This semester we have spent the majority of our time learning about and
discussing how we can best assist exceptional students. Many of these
students are individuals with learning dissabilities. Although it would be
difficult for every teacher to understand the distinctions, symptoms,
weaknesses and strengths of every disability, it can be very helpful to have
a general knowledge of the disabilities that may hinder a students ability to
learn. Unlike other disabilities like paralysis and blindness, a learning
disability (LD) is a hidden handicap. A learning disability does not
disfigure or leave visible signs that would invite others to be understanding
or offer support (Council for Exceptional Children (CEC),1999). Therefore as
teachers it will be our responsibility to provide that understanding and
support for those children already diagnosed and also be alert to the warning
signs that may be symptoms of a previously undetected disability.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (NIMH, 1999) describes
learning disabilities as follows: LD is a disorder that effects peoples ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways. As specific
difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control,
or attention. Such difficulties extend to school work and can impede
learning to read or write or to do math.

Learning disability can be lifelong conditions that, in some cases,
affect many parts of a persons life: school or work, daily routines, family
life, and sometimes even friendships. In some people, many overlapping
learning disabilities may be apparent. Other people may have a single
isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their
lives (National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), 1999). It is
important to remember that the term learning disability does not apply to
students who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual
or hearing problems, mental retardation, emotional problems, or
disadvantaged due to their environment, culture or economic background (US
Department of Education (USDE), 1999).

Knowing what constitutes a LD is only the beginning. Diagnosing and
treating a learning disability is not a diagnosis in the same sense as
diabetes or chicken pox. These have a known cause, distinct symptoms and
treatments. LD, on the other hand, is a very broad term that covers an array
of possible causes, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes. There is no
medication to cure a learning disability (NCLD, 1999). If seen listed, the
number of disabilities may be daunting. However, The Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed. (DSM-IV) (DSM-IV, 1994)
divides LDs into three broad categories.

The first category is Developmental Speech and Language Disorders. This
...

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