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What Are Learning Disabilities?

Learning DisabilitesLearning disabilities (LDs) are real. They affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, respond to and communicate information. LDs are actually a group of disorders, not a single disorder.


Learning disabilities are not the same as intellectual disabilities (formerly known as mental retardation), sensory impairments (vision or hearing) or autism spectrum disorders. People with LD are of average or above-average intelligence but still struggle to acquireskills that impact their performance in school, at home, in the community and in the workplace. Learning disabilities are lifelong, and the sooner they are recognized and identified, the sooner steps can be taken to circumvent or overcome the challenges they present.


How Can You Tell If Someone Has a Learning Disability?

The hallmark sign of a learning disability is a distinct and unexplained gap between a person’s level of expected achievement and their performance. Learning disabilities affect every person differentlyand they present differently at various stages of development. LDs can range from mild to severe and it is not uncommon for people to have more than one learning disability. In addition, about one-third of individuals with LD also have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While LD and ADHD can share common features, such as difficulties with concentration, memory, and organizational skills, they are not the same types of disorder. Unfortunately, LD is often confused with ADHD and is frequently mistaken as laziness or associated with disorders of emotion and behavior. A careful and thorough review of concerns, with input from multiple sources (including parents, educators, physicians, psychologists, speech-language providers and, of course, the person themselves) is the only way to rule in or rule out a learning disability.


Learning disabilities can affect a person’s ability in the areas of









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Explicit Teacher Modeling

Explicit TeachingThe purpose of explicit teacher modeling is to provide students with a clear, multi-sensory model of a skill or concept. The teacher is the person best equipped to provide such a model. As a child’s first teacher, a parent should exhibit the following skills.


What is it?

-Teacher both describes and models the math skill/concept.

-Teacher clearly describes features of the math concept or steps in performing math skill.

-Teacher breaks math concept/skill into learnable parts.

-Teacher describes/models using multi-sensory techniques.

-Teacher engages students in learning through demonstrating enthusiasm, through maintaining a lively pace, through periodically questioning students, and through checking for student understanding.


What are the critical elements of this strategy?


There are eight essential components of explicit instruction:


Concept/skill is broken down into critical features/elements.

Teacher clearly describes concept/skill.

Teacher clearly models concept/skill.

Multi-sensory instruction (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic)

Teacher thinks aloud as she/he models.

Teacher models examples and non-examples.


High levels of teacher-student interaction



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Two-Way Communication includes outgoing and incoming communications between parents and children

1. Outgoing communication ideas:

Parent InvolvementHere are some things I have found by watching people read almost anything other than a text- book—a newsletter, flyer, magazine, catalog, instruction manual, their email or regular mail:

• Virtually everyone gives each piece of written material a one- or two-second “triage” scan, quickly trashing it if they’re not interested.

Of those interested enough to start reading immediately …

• Almost 80 percent will spend less than 30 seconds “reading” it.

• Around 20 percent will spend up to three minutes carefully reading some short articles.

• Less than one percent will spend up to 30 minutes reading an entire long publication.


The question is: Can you get your critical points across in the less than 30 seconds most parents will likely spend reading your publication? Try these ideas to help you beat the clock:

• Write strong, attention-getting headlines. In both print and online, the reader’s eye goes first to the headline (or subject line on email) and then, if he is still interested, on to the text of the message. The headline is your best, and sometimes only, chance to deliver your message.

1.  Add an illustration or photo that clarifies or emphasizes your message.

2.  Include a related sidebar box near your main article containing a related point or example,

a fact box, checklist, a short Q&A or a timeline. Use these tips to boost readership:

3.  Limit a newsletter to one sheet of paper. Front and back is okay, as is using a single sheet that is folded. Even an 11″ x 17″ sheet folded to make four pages can work. The key is the single sheet of paper.

4.  Keep articles short: 75-150 words, 250 max.

5.  Use simple, plain language—fourth to sixth grade reading level. Use the readability utility built into most word processing programs. Short words, short sentences and short para- graphs are easier for everyone to read.

6.  Use an attractive newsletter nameplate to reflect the professionalism of your school.

7.  Use the “Dollar Bill” test to make sure every page is attractive and inviting. A dollar bill placed completely on the page and moved around at any angle, in any direction, should touch some graphic element that adds visual interest to the page, such as:

» Bullets.

» Boldfaced type.

» Headlines or subheads. » A picture or drawing. » A background screen. » Rule lines.

8.  Standardize one design and stick with it. Two or three narrow columns are often easier to read than a single wide one.


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Perceived Barriers to Parent Involvement in School Program


Given a list of concerns that might impede parent involvement in schools, schools indicated to what extent they perceived that each was a barrier.


Among the parent-centered barriers, the highest percentage of schools perceived lack of time on the part of parents as a barrier to a great or moderate extent. This was followed by lack of parent education to help with school work.



Parent Involvement, School Program, parent involvement, School SystemCultural or socioeconomic differences and parent attitudes about the school were perceived to be barriers in 23 percent of schools.


Language differences between parents and staff was perceived as a barrier by 12 percent of schools.


Of the barriers considered to be centered at the school, more than half of schools (56 percent) perceived that lack of time on the part of school staff created a barrier to parent involvement to a great or moderate extent.


About half perceived that lack of staff training in working with parents was also a barrier to parent programs. Staff attitudes towards parents was perceived as a barrier by 18 percent of schools.


Concerns about safety in the area after school hours was reported as a barrier in 9 percent of all schools.


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Parents should learn Multisensory Techniques


children with Learning Disabilities

Multisensory techniques are frequently used for children with Learning Disabilities (LD) Multisensory teaching techniques and strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels. They encourage children to use some or all of their senses to:




Gather information about a task;

Link information to ideas they already know and understand;

Perceive the logic involved in solving problems;

Learn problem-solving steps;

Tap into nonverbal reasoning skills;

Understand relationships between concepts; and

Learn information and store it for later recall.


Why Multisensory Techniques Are Important for Students With LDs:


Children with LDs typically have learning differences in one or more areas of reading, writing, math, listening comprehension, and expressive language. Multisensory techniques enable children to use their personal areas of strength to help them learn. They can range from simple to complex, depending on the needs of the student and the task at hand.


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