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Learning Disabilities

Description

Learning Disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical skills. (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, Learning Disabilities: Issues on Definition, January, 1990).

A learning disability interferes with a person’s ability to store, process, or produce information, and can also affect a person’s attention, memory, coordination and social skills. Each student with a learning disability may need different accommodations and services based on which area(s) of learning is affected by the disability. One individual with a learning disability does not have difficulty with all of the areas mentioned above, and it is not unusual for a person with a learning disability to be gifted in some areas.

Possible Characteristics

  • Reading comprehension difficulties (this impacts all academic subjects)
  • Listening difficulties (problems understanding and picking out key points)
  • Writing difficulties (speed, legibility)
  • Math difficulty (difficulty with math calculation or word problems, may include math anxiety)
  • Social difficulties (difficulty interacting in small or large group activities)
  • Difficulty with attention and focus
  • Organizational difficulty (completing projects, doing homework, taking notes, etc.)
  • Time management difficulty (getting assignments done, allocating enough time for social and academic activities, etc.)

Guidelines

Multi-modality Instruction: Provide important information and assignments in both oral and written formats to help promote access to course content. A multi-modality approach to instruction helps students with learning disabilities find a mode that is consistent with their learning strength.

Alternative Format: Coordinate with SDS to ensure that course materials are available in an alternative format. For example, some students with learning disabilities need print material in electronic format to be read with a screen reader. When you are contacted by SDS or a student, it is important that you immediately provide information about the required textbook(s) and other reading expectations for the course, as it can take a considerable amount of time to convert materials into another format.

Course Material: Consider posting class notes or an outline of key concepts online before class.

Testing Accommodations: Be aware that students with learning disabilities may be eligible for one or more of the following testing accommodations: Use of a non-programmable calculator, computer with spell check, formula sheet or word bank. Consider allowing students to reveal what they have retained in a variety of ways, not simply through paper and pencil tests.

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