Learning Disabilities in the Traditional Classroom
Education is an important factor in pursuing the American dream. Education has an impact on society, whether in a negative or positive manner. When a person lacks an education, it is hard for that person to obtain or keep a job in America's workforce. By understanding some of the factors, such as learning disabilities, that keep our children from obtaining the best education that America has to offer, this downfall in society can be avoided. They become better educated and have more of an opportunity for the pursuit of happiness. Learning disabilities, such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder contribute to this lack of success in the traditional classroom.
Dyslexia is a language processing disorder. According to Ann Logsdon (2010), “people with Dyslexia may reverse words or parts of words.” By this, a student may confuse his or her words when he or she reads aloud. For example, the student may pronounce the word cat as tac. The student who suffers from Dyslexia has trouble succeeding in the traditional classroom because he or she does not have time to complete reading assignments or because his or her reading comprehension level suffers as an effect of the disability. Furthermore, if a student is struggling academically, he or she may sometimes mask the disability by behaving in an inappropriate manner. Unfortunately, this behavior only hinders the student's success further.
Dyscalculia is another form of Dyslexia, but “Dyscalculia is the difficulty understanding and using math concepts and symbols” (University of Washington, 97). Dyscalculia “includes all types of math problems ranging from inability to understand the meaning of numbers to inability to apply math principles to solve problems” (Logsdon, 2010). For example, if a student with Dyscalculia were to be asked to subtract two numbers, one from the other, he or she may add or even multiply these two numbers because of the inability to understand the difference between the two. As with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia can cause academic and behavioral setbacks.
“Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that can make it hard for a person to sit still, control behavior, and pay attention” (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities [NICHCY], 2004,What is Ad/HD section, para. 3). According to NICHCY, “the three main symptoms of ADHD are problems with paying attention, being very active (called hyperactivity), and acting before thinking (called impulsivity)” (NICHCY, 2004, What are signs of AD/HD section para. 7). The symptoms that are mentioned in the article would affect the entire learning environment. If a student is unable to focus on the assignments, tests, projects, or presentations due to ADHD, his or her grades will suffer, hindering his or her success in the traditional classroom.
“ADHD has been broken down to three different types: inattentive type, hyperactive-impulsive type, and combined type” (NICHCY, 2004, What are signs of Ad/HD section, para. 8). Inattentive type affects the child's ability to concentrate on any particular thing for an extended amount of time. The child will have trouble concentrating on the particulars that are involved in their school work, and they cannot engage in recreational activities. They have a hard time staying alert and following through with commands or directions. They have poor organizational skills and have a hard time keeping up with personal belongings. Hyperactive-impulsive type affects the child's ability to be stationary, and they will have spontaneous behavior. They will constantly make sudden movements and cannot sit motionless for any allotted period of time. This type of AD/HD will also have an effect on the student's patience, and makes it hard for the student to remain calm. “Combined type ADHD has the signs of both Inattentive type and Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD” (NICHCY, 2004 What are the signs of AD/HD section, para.6).
ADHD has several signs that could also be mistaken for inappropriate behavior which was mentioned in earlier paragraphs concerning Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. A student that seems to be acting out should be evaluated by a trained professional in the field in order to rule out the three different types of ADHD.
Students who are affected by a learning disability will have a hard time maintaining their grades and may become unsocial with their peers, depending on the students personal reactions. They will become discouraged with the difficulty of finishing the work and leave assignments half done or not turn them in to the teacher. The students will feel left out and feel inferior to other students and may act out in an aggressive behavior towards the other students. The student may start approaching other students in a controlling manner, such as threatening the other students into doing the assignment for them and just being physically aggressive. When a student acts out in this manner, it is referred to as bullying in the education system. The student that is suffering from a learning disability feels out of control about the situation in the classroom concerning the learning disability so they what to feel in control of something. This is where they try to control other students and in some cases even some teachers, depending on the level of aggressiveness the student has approached.
The process for a teacher to obtain a teaching license does not require him or her to have a depth of knowledge on learning disabilities. Teachers are only required to have a basic understanding and make accommodations when a student diagnosed with a learning disability is enrolled in their class. However, there are several different things a teacher can do to assist the students with dealing with the learning disabilities of Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. The teacher can assure that the student comprehends the assignments that have been assigned to them. The student will be able to work better if they are allowed to work with a classmate. It will help the students with their behavior if the teacher makes sure that the students conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, and that they have a reinforcement system designed to enforce it, such as offering a pizza party or extra time for recreational activities. The students who are affected with a disability in the reading area of the education can benefit from the reading material being read aloud to them or even by providing a duplicate of the teacher's notes. The students who have a difficulty with writing can benefit from being able to answer questions or take test aloud. Finally, any learning disability can be assisted by allowing additional time for all assignments and tests. This will keep the student from being rushed and becoming discouraged.
AD/HD is difficult to assist but not impossible. Since AD/HD consists of hyperactivity, the best thing for a teacher to do to assist the student is to break the assignments up into multiple assignments so that they do not become bored with the work. The teacher also needs an incentive program for the students who have conducted themselves in an appropriate manner. A system also needs to be incorporated to reinforce appropriate behavior. Also, the room where the child is attempting to learn needs to have limited decorations that will be less likely to attract the student's attention.
However, beyond these suggestions, only special education teachers are highly qualified and have the training to successfully prepare the students affected with learning disabilities for graduation and the workforce after high school. These suggestions are effective but are meant to be used in collaboration with other resources such as special education teachers. Unfortunately, for various reasons such as budgets or funding, such resources are not always available to traditional public classroom teachers. Thus, the student's success is again impeded.
If the teachers can help the students identify with the problems associated with learning disabilities, this will help the students successfully graduate ready for the workforce and life outside of high school, as well as help control the bullying issues in the educational system. After incorporating these techniques, the students will learn how to deal with disability and learn how to function in a classroom. They will start to finish assignments that are assigned to them with the extra time they are allowed by the teacher. These techniques will also help them be able to be more social with their classmates and lessen the need to feel inferior and react with aggression.
Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADHD are three learning disabilities that affect students who are trying to obtain an education in the traditional classroom. Dyslexia affects a student's ability to read and Dyscalculia is the learning disability hat affects the student's understanding of mathematical concepts and symbols. ADHD is a broader learning disability. It affects the student's concentration due to the hyperactivity of the student. If a teacher is properly trained to detect the signs and symptoms of these learning disabilities, and is aware of the different techniques to help the student succeed, the student will be more successful in the traditional classroom.
Do-It, University of Washington. (2009). What are specific types of learning disabilities? Retrieved from http://www.washington.edu/doit/Careers/articles?70
Harlan, J.C., & Rowland, S.T. (2002). Behavior Management Strategies For Teachers (2nd Ed) Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas- Publisher, LTD.
Logsdon, A. (2010) Signs of Dyslexia in Reading and Writing. Retrieved from http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/learningdisabilitybasics/a/Dslxiapart1.htm
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2004). Learning Disabilities (LD). Retrieved from http://www.nichcy.org/Disabilities/Specific/Pages/LD.aspx
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2004). Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). Retrieved from http://www.nichcy.org/disabilities/specific/pages/adhd.aspx