Education of Children with Learning Disabilities Essay
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Education of Children with Learning Disabilities For centuries, the education of children with learning disabilities has been a problem and a challenge. Many methods of teaching have been proposed, yet every day there are new techniques and strategies on how to achieve the maximum success of these children. The problem of educating a child cannot be solved quickly and easily, rather it requires much careful analysis and research. Workers in this field are developing new theories on a day-to-day basis. All the methods proposed seem to be the answer, yet the problem is not yet solved. Meanwhile, we must determine the best strategies for the most effective method of teaching a child with learning disabilities.
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When the term “immaturity” is used by educators to describe a child, the description does not in any way offer insight into the source of the child’s disability or problem. Today, there are so many terms that are used to refer to children who have difficulties comprehending materials and who have atypical behavioral skills. These include terms such as handicapped, disabled, exceptional, impaired, disordered, special, and developmentally delayed. These are general terms, however, it is those terms that actually specify the problem that often get confused. Placing a label on this child is telling those around the child to treat him in a different way than other children. There is substantial research that teachers act differently toward children for whom they have low expectations. Over time, the child’s behavior and achievement conforms to the teacher’s expectations. By labeling a child, not only will the educator deal with the child differently, but also other children will also immediately act differently toward the child because they think something is wrong. By other children acting differently this will eventually cause a change in the way the child perceives himself. The child will look at himself in a different way. He will think of himself as bad. Now that he is labeled he is no longer an individual, his uniqueness is lost. Labeling the child does not explain
Learning disability can be considered as a living problem with which almost one in every seven person has problem with and about which we are hardly aware of. Learning Disability is a matter of special concern for the student community as very often we mistake the failure of a student with poor intelligence and indiscipline while the true reason very often is due to a deficit in one or more of the ways the brain processes information.
While the west, especially the developed countries, are concerned about the prevalence and cure of the problem, late but never, we have finally taken up the concept for developing awareness among the people and who else better would be than the student community. In this paper I shall try to share some of the realities of learning disability, the causes of its occurrence, its cure and finally the role of parents and teachers in this regard.
What is Learning Disability?
The term learning disability was first introduced in 1963 by Kirk as a term that envelops disorders like brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction (used by doctors), perceptual disorders, hyperkinetic behavior (used by psychologist), dyslexia, aphasia (used by speech language pathologist), etc. It can be seen as a broad general term that includes a number of disabilities historically recognized as separate. But the commonality is that learners have difficulty in learning. There are many definitions of learning disability and each provides a slightly different slant than the other but the common core of all these definitions are-
i) I.Q. Achievement Discrepancy i.e. the inability of the learner to achieve up to his potential capacity.
ii) Central Nervous system Dysfunction, referring to the brain injury or brain damage causing learning disability.
iii) Psychological Processing Disorder, meaning deficit in abilities to perceive and interpret environmental stimuli.
Thus, learning disability refers to a group of disorders that affect a broad range of academic and functional skills including the ability to read, write, speak, spell, reason and organize information. It is not indicative of low intelligence. It is worth mentioning here that learning disability should not be confused with mental retardation or behavioral disorders.
Why it occurs?
The causes of learning disability are hard to find. However, the possible causes can be put into three general categories -:
i) Biological or organic, including specific factors like (a) neurological dysfunction or malfunctioning of the brain which may occur due to high fever, head injury, pre-mature birth, anoxia and even low blood sugar, (b) uneven growth pattern, also called developmental imbalances or intra-individual differences, etc.
ii) Genetic or hereditary
iii) Environmental i.e. the factors that lies within the environment like (a) emotional disturbance, (b) failure of teaching, (c) social system, etc.
Who is learning disabled person?
Learning disability encompasses a cluster of disorders and generally no individual displays all of them at a time. The major characteristics of learning disability are:
Significant discrepancy between learning potential and actual level of learning
Hyperactivity or difficulty in working, waiting for turns, sustaining attention to a task and act without consequences
Lack of coordination or slow psychomotor development
Memory disorder i.e. people who fails to recall simple facts and also those who fails to repeat a simple sequence of few words just after listening
Attention disorder or the inability to focus long enough to learn new material, etc.
How can learning disability be cured?
As learning disability involves a cluster of disorder, its cure, hence, depends on the nature of disorder. Some major approaches recognized by professionals are:
Process training or training to the phenomena which has lead to disability in learning
Cognitive training or training to change the covert thoughts
Behavior modification, etc.
Besides the above, right support and timely intervention from people around may do wonder for them. Schools and colleges can help them achieve such success by encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understand the educational system, work with professionals and learn about strategies for dealing with specific difficulties. We need to understand that learning disabled children are as smart and can be smarter than their peers if are not left to figure things out by themselves or if not taught in conventional ways. In nutshell the cure for learning disability lies in more in awareness than in any specific treatment.
Including the excluded is the Millennium Development Goal of India. We aspire to become a developed nation by 2020 and leaving any child behind will certainly not help us to realize this dream. Education for all and a fulfilling career according to ability should not be compromised with at any cost. We should inspire ourselves with those great names like Albert Einstein who couldn’t read until he was nine. Walt Disney, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller of USA and the likes had trouble reading all their lives. Also in the list are such names like actor Tom Cruise, Oscar award winner Whoopi Goldberg and many others have learning disabilities but they were successful.