Learning disabilities are caused by genes and biological aspects that interfere with the working of the brain that affects one or more processes associated with learning. The affected processes can cause damage to the collective skills like an individual like how to read, write and to do simple calculations. It can damage how an individual organizes things, how one manages time and can interfere with an individual's reasoning. Disabilities can interfere with a person's life beyond learning and interfere with how they relate with relatives and fellow workmates. It is important to note that students with learning disabilities do succeed. If parents and teachers suspect that their child has difficulties in learning and may need help, they should not delay in finding relief.
Signs and Symptoms of Learning Disabilities
There are various signs and symptoms that one can observe in a child to determine if they have learning disabilities. Among the common signs of learning disabilities include difficulty pronouncing words and problems finding the right word. Also, difficulty in giving chorus answers, problems in familiarizing with the alphabet, number of different colors and shapes indicate learning disabilities. Duquette and Land (2014) note that difficulty in knowing the days of the week, problems in understanding directions and abiding by the routines and issues regarding shirt buttons, shoelaces and zippers are signs of learning disabilities.
Hence, these signs are easily noticeable, so parents, together with the help of teachers, if they do notice any, proper attention and care should be given to the child to help cope with their condition. Further support from specialists should be sought for better advice and guidelines. In between the age of five to nine years, the most common learning disabilities are as follows:
- Difficulty in learning the relation between letters and sounds
- Inability to choose sounds to make words
- Confusing common words when reading
- Slow learners in learning new things
- Difficult in learning typical math content
- Difficulty in differentiating sequence and time
For an English Language Learner with these signs and symptoms, it won't be easy to understand the new vocabulary they come across every day at school. It will be difficult for them to learn new words and to form sentences and to pronounce some words and letters. At the age of ten to thirteen years, we have the following sign and symptoms:
- Trouble in reading comprehension or math concepts
- Difficulty in tackling open-minded assessment tests
- Developing hatred toward writing and reading
- Abysmal handwriting
Being keen and paying close attention to the growth of children, and every stage they pass through is critical. Knowing that a child has learning disabilities at a young age has room for natural correction. Any development disorder in a child at early age should be treated as a severe threat, and immediate support from specialists should be sought. It is easier to correct this at a young age than in older children. Parents know their children better than the teachers, and they should be the ones who can notice and lag in the development stages of their children.
Types of Learning Disabilities
There is no proven technique that has been effective in differentiating English Language Learners (ELLs) with problems in gaining language skills and the ones having learning disorders (Burr et al., 2015). The students who have been wrongly identified usually end up in wrong classes and doing illegal programs not meant for them, thus altering their success in education. Several research pieces have been done to come up with techniques that can be crucial in identifying ELLs with learning disabilities. The analysis compares many data types to help determine the source of ELLs learning problems. Across the learning institutions where the research was carried, it was found that two issues lead to misidentifying students with these disabilities; misunderstanding of teachers as to why ELLs perform and progress poorly and the badly formed and implemented referral processes. Learning disabilities are mostly categorized by school-based skills. In school learning children, the most common disabilities are associated with reading, learning and math.
Dyslexia disability is categorized into two; common reading difficulties that occur when a child has problems in familiarizing the connection involving sounds, letters and words. The other category is a comprehension reading problem. It occurs if a child has issues in grasping what a word, phrase or paragraph means in a comprehension. It causes a child to have difficulties recognizing words, getting the meaning of words, reading slowly, and not being fluent.
Dysgraphia is a disability in writing which involves problems in expressing thoughts on paper. It rotates around the process of noting down ideas and instructions. Common symptoms of this disability are; having difficulties in spelling words, copying letters as they are written and keeping writing space clean.
Dyscalculia is an inability to learn maths at various levels. The problem involves a child having problems doing simple math concepts, relating time, and having trouble using money. People with this kind form of a problem often struggle with concepts such as smaller and bigger.
Dysphasia is a disability that is associated with understanding and producing spoken language. This problem involves having difficulty in internalizing oral language and in reading passages. The problem may cause impairments in writing, reading and gesturing.
English Language Learning Framework
A framework for catering to the needs of ELLs with learning disorders was formed by Ortiz and Yates in 2001. The framework outlines the programs that favor ELLs with disabilities. It stipulates what steps to be taken in identifying these students. Language learners, due to their unique practices, require unique instructional programs. If an English Learner has problems in understanding some concepts, the educator needs to embrace the instructional strategy and pace for the student. If a student has a disability in a particular aspect, it doesn't dictate they be taken to individual schools; some abilities can be corrected with proper care and help. Teachers and parents should work hand in hand to ensure the child has improved, and if not, adequate measures should be taken.
English Language Learners with disabilities are at risk of lower achievement in language and literacy. Due to the problems encountered when learning new languages, it is usually hard to know if the underperformance is due to the struggle in understanding the language or due to learning disorders (Duquette & Land, 2014). There are common traits between Ells and those students that have learning disabilities such as poor spoken language skills, wrong motivation and low self-esteem. Teachers need to differentiate between language learning difficulties and learners with disabilities. Mostly ELLs have been misidentified as learners with disabilities and have ended in wrong classrooms. Before concluding a student has learning disabilities instead of being an ELL, it is essential to observe keenly what an ELL can do in other class activities and programs.
If an English Learner is found to be having a learning disability, the right programs should be considered. The student should continue to learn the English language and be receiving the right particular education program. The education program should incorporate practical techniques, resources, and strategies such as charts, pictures, or video materials to reinforce understanding of content, use the first language of the students, and embrace cooperative learning and teaching. Teachers should learn that these students learn new vocabulary based on their pace and understanding. ELLs with special needs should be treated with care, and this will ensure they embrace their learning, thus improving their performance.
In conclusion, in many cases, English Language Learners have been misidentified as learners with disabilities and have ended up in the wrong class doing programs not meant for them. Proper steps and procedures should be embraced in distinguishing them. In the case of an ELL with learning disabilities, both the support for English Language acquisition and exceptional education support should be offered. Teachers and parents should team up together to identify them and ensure they get the right education that should cater to their needs, and proper and adequate support should be given for both.
Burr, E., Haas, E., & Ferriere, K. (2015). Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities: Key issues in the literature and state practice (REL 2015–086). Washington, DC: U.S.
Duquette, C. & Land, M. (2014). Strategies for Teaching Reading to English Language Learners with Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from https://ldatschool.ca/classroom/literacy/strategies-for-teaching-reading/
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