Pre-K thru High School

Smiling, huddled group of various aged children.Each stage in a child’s life provides a different learning profile of needs. This section will provide specific information related to the different stages of a child’s school years from preschool to elementary school to middle school and high school. Learning disabilities is a life-long condition, but with the right accommodations these students who have identified learning problems can not only be successful in school but can go on to self-advocate and be successful in the workplace and everyday life.

The Reading Brain: Executive Function Hard at Work

by Linda R. Hecker When I talk with educators across the country, they often lament that students don’t read much anymore, especially in the face of ubiquitous social and multimedia distractions. Even students with intact decoding and fluency complain that reading is just too hard, not worth the effort. Why is reading such a challenge for so many? One often overlooked factor is the role that executive function plays when we engage with text. Broadly put, executive function (EF) describes the cognitive processes that regulate self-directed behavior toward a goal. Anytime we plan, prioritize and organize; maintain effort and focus over… Read More »

Introducing The Hybrid Teacher: Hope for Students with LD in the General Education Classroom

Author’s note: Versions of this article have appeared in LDA Today (formerly LDA NEWSBRIEFS), as well as archived on www.LDonline.org . It is also included in serialized form in the author’s blog on The Huffington Post.. Minor modifications have been made in this version, so that it could be shared as part of the LDA Calendar “31 Days of LD” that has been created to celebrate October as Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. I am pleased to have it included in this creative repository of helpful and informative materials. I hope you enjoy it. I would appreciate hearing your response to it.… Read More »

Protecting Students with Disabilities: FAQs about Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities

What is Section 504? Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .” The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide… Read More »

The Role of Parents/Family in Response to Intervention

IDEA 04 offers states and localities the option of using “a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation process…,” but it does not require that states or districts use Responsiveness-to-Intervention, often shortened to RTI. Although RTI is similar to the old pre-referral or problem-solving model first suggested by Dr. James Chalfant in the mid-70’s as Teacher Assistance Teams (TAT), parents have begun to hear a lot about RTI as a “new” way to help students with learning disabilities. What is RTI? Although there is no single RTI model, the many variations… Read More »

Supreme Court Rules Parents Have Rights, Too

On Monday, May 21, 2007, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling of significance to parents. The case is Winkelman v. Parma School District, U.S.S.C. Docket No. 05-983 (May 21, 2007). These are the facts. Jacob Winkelman is a six-year old child with autism spectrum disorder. Both the parents and the school district agreed that he is covered by the IDEA. The parents participated in the process of formulating the IEP and, when, in the parents’ view, the school district failed to provide Jacob with the free appropriate public education mandated by IDEA, the parents sought a due process… Read More »

Accommodations, Techniques and Aids For Learning

While the majority of a student’s program should be as closely aligned with the general education curriculum as possible, some accommodations and modifications may be necessary. Listed below are some suggested ways to aid students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) learn more effectively at home or at school. Selection from these and other possibilities must be based on the individual needs of each child. Information and ideas from a multidisciplinary team, including the parents and student, are important for developing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that meets the unique needs of each student with learning disabilities. A carefully developed multidisciplinary… Read More »

First Steps for Parents When School Problems Are Observed

If a student is having unusual difficulty in school the parent should discuss the situation with the teacher and other school personnel. Most schools have a problem-solving team which works with families in reviewing and solving problems that affect school performance before beginning a formal process of referral for special education and related services as described in IDEA. Problem-solving activities or strategies used by the regular education teacher to address the child’s difficulty may consist of changes in the physical environment, changes in instructional approaches, short-term remedial activities, peer tutoring, or behavioral management plans. Learn more about who serves on… Read More »

Successful Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities

Research continues to confirm that we can teach students with learning disabilities to “learn how to learn.” We can put them into a position to compete and hold their own. Some intervention practices that produce large outcomes are: direct instruction; learning strategy instruction; and using a sequential, simultaneous structured multi-sensory approach. Teachers who apply those kinds of intervention: break learning into small steps; administer probes; supply regular, quality feedback; use diagrams, graphics and pictures to augment what they say in words; provide ample independent, well-designed intensive practice; model instructional practices that they want students to follow; provide prompts of strategies… Read More »

Reading Instruction: Tips for Teachers

Reading is the single most important educational skill your students will learn. Understanding the organization and meaning of text and instruction in both phonics and literature is essential to helping young children read. By understanding the prerequisite skills for reading, teachers can build a solid foundation for their students to learn and succeed in school. Here are some ways to create appreciation of the written word, develop awareness of printed language, teach the alphabet, develop phonological and phonemic awareness, teach the relation of sounds and letters, teach children how to sound out words and to spell words, and help children… Read More »

Encouraging Compliance and Managing Non-Compliance at School

What are the root causes of compliant behavior and the strategies to use at school? Dr. Russell Barkley, an expert in child behavior, encourages teachers to examine compliance and non-compliance in light of four factors: the nature of the student, the nature of teachers and care-givers, the effectiveness of child management methods, and the student’s environment and related stress. In addition, this article includes such strategies as solicit the student’s input, use physical cues, know the student’s learning style, set clear limits and expectations, know those things you can control and those things you do not control, choose your battles… Read More »

Social Skills and Learning Disabilities

The consequences of learning disabilities are rarely confined to school or work. Many areas of life are affected, including the role of the person with learning disabilities in their family, relationships with friends, non-academic functioning such as sports or dancing, self-esteem and self-confidence to handle daily situations. Individuals who have learning disabilities may be less observant in their social environment, may misinterpret the social behavior of others at times, and may not learn as easily from experiences or social “cues” as their friends. Some children may exhibit an immaturity and social ineptness due to their learning disability. While seeking acceptance,… Read More »

IEPs and School Transfers

IDEA provides guidelines for a child with a disability transferring to another school in or out of district within the same state or out of state. The guidelines are specific as to the child’s right to have a free appropriate public education with services that are comparable to those in the previous IEP. It is important that the parents get copies of school records for their files, check with the new and existing schools to be sure the transfer request is made, make sure all records related to special or related services are included, and follow up with both schools… Read More »

Student Success Formula

Today’s schools face numerous, difficult challenges in preparing students for their roles in the world. The Expansion of Information Content explosion – the ever-expanding amount of information being added to world knowledge daily – can be overwhelming when content coverage is a priority. Combined with the pressures of state standards, mandatory testing, and school reform prevalent in today’s educational community, educators can feel ill-equipped to meet the needs of their students. What, then, can schools and individual educators do to prepare students to successfully respond to heavy curriculum demands at the middle school and high school levels? This article describes… Read More »

Help with Homework

The amount of assistance your child requires with homework will be determined by his/her age and level of ability. Elementary school students, as well as those with learning problems will require more of your time, assistance, and support than secondary students. Your assistance also depends on whether the homework assignments represent practicing a skill already mastered by your child or developing and mastering a new skill. The later will take more time and involvement on your part. Most parents feel quite capable of providing assistance when the goal of homework is to practice previously learned information. For example, using flash… Read More »

Transition Planning Requirements of IDEA 2004

What is transition planning? Transition planning is a process mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) for all students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in K-12 education. The purpose is to facilitate the student’s move from school to post-school activities. The transition planning must: start before the student turns 16; be individualized; be based on the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and include opportunities to develop functional skills for work and community life. Who develops the transition plan? The IEP team; The student; Parents; Optional–employers, college representatives, student advocates What is the transition team’s job?… Read More »

Graphic Organizers

What is a graphic organizer? Graphic organizers are visual thinking tools that make pictures of your thoughts. The pictures demonstrate relationships between facts, concepts, or ideas, and guide your thinking as you design the map or diagram. People who have learning disabilities are often visual learners and thinkers. That means they understand and remember information better when ideas, words, and concepts are associated with pictures, diagrams, charts, and maps. Why use graphic organizers? Graphic organizers can help to visualize and construct ideas, organize and/or sequence information, plan what to write, increase reading comprehension, brainstorm, organize problems and solutions, compare and… Read More »