learning disabilities

Learning Disabilities: Definition, Rights, & Education

Learning disabilities are defined by IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as:  A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

learning disabilities

Rights of Those with Learning Disabilities

Those with learning disabilities have rights, such as:

  • Entitled to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
  • An education in the least restrictive environment (LRE)

Four Key Components to Educating Those with Learning Disabilities

  • Motivation: Helping a child to succeed without their own motivation is impossible. Find what makes them tick or what is really going to motivate them to reaching for a better education and truly overcoming their learning disability. This may mean positive reinforcements that can be provided by the teacher or in cooperation with the parent. If money is an issue, think outside the box. Motivation can come in all shapes and sizes and once the child experiences success, they are more likely to try again without any external motivation.
  • Acquisition: This simply refers to them acquiring the information. People have all sorts of different learning styles, so make sure that you are teaching the child how they learn. Do they need hands on projects? Do they need flashcards? Learning comes in all shapes and sizes.
  • Retention: Many individuals with Learning Disabilities have a hard time remembering and recalling information. This means constant review is necessary
  • Performance: Having a child know information is great, but they also need to be able to apply the information both to tests and into the real world
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reading comprehension

Reading Comprehension: Helping Kids Succeed

Reading comprehension is the skill of decoding text and then remembering what was read.  This can help children to find success in acquiring knowledge and eventually lead to successful test taking and test preparation.  It is an important skill that can be mastered when broken down for the child. They may need extra help along the way in order to achieve success but constant practice is the key toward finding success. Below are some additional ideas to help your child succeed in reading comprehension.

reading comprehension

The following 8 tips can be used to help children become successful in reading comprehension:

  • Start Young: It is never to early to practice the great skills of reading. Whether you are reading with the child or they are reading to themselves
  • Audio Books: Listen to stories and then have the student become the illustrator and make the book
  • Summary:  Break larger reading into smaller portions where the student can ask himself or herself what was this about.  For example, this can be applied to early readers and short sentences to paraphrase reflectively and make sense of the larger book
  • Compare/Contrast:  Students can reflect on what they have read by looking at what it is like from their prior knowledge and how it is different.  They may also be comparing facts in the sentence or characters in the book
  • Clue Words: Teachers and/or parents can help students prepare for what they are reading by highlighting and defining words for them to find in the text.  This can help students to greater understand what they are reading
  • Variety of input:  Students can practice reading to themselves, in small groups, or as a class.  This can help students to listen and read, and it can also help with the next point.
  • Discussion:  After reading, children can discuss with each other or with you what was read and how it applies to the topic.
  • Graphic Organizer:  Students can take what they read and apply it to note type format.  This multi task experience can help with retention, understanding, and be used later as a reference.


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Toddler Vocabulary: Facts to Know

There are some important facts to know about a toddler vocabulary. It is every changing and ever growing. It is important to stay on top of it and make sure your child doesn’t fall behind because vocabulary at ages 3-5 is directly linked to reading comprehension at ages 10-11. This means where they are at now directly impacts their future. It does not mean all hope is lost if your child seems to be behind on language compared to their peers. It simply means that there is work to be done and tons of professionals happy to help.

toddler vocabulary

Here are some things you ought to know about toddler vocabulary:

  • Language skills grow rapidly from 2-3 years old
  • Between ages 1 and 2, children should be saying new words each month
  • Between ages 1 and 2, putting two words together (“my toy”)
  • Between ages 1 and 2, using one-and two-word questions (“more juice?”).
  • 13-18 months, receptively* identify 1-3 body parts
  • Child uses about 10-20 words at age 18 months including names
  • 2 years, respond to simple yes and no questions
  • 2 years, follows two step directions
  • A typical 2-year-old knows 20-200 words
  • A typical 3-year-old knows about 1,000 words
  • Age 3 years, understands use of objects,  parts of objects, descriptive adjectives, pronouns, and some quantity concepts (one, all)
  • At 3 years of age, comprehends approximately 500-1000 words
  • At 3 years of age, knows difference between sexes and own sex
  • By 3 years of age, knows simple spatial concepts (in/on/under)
  • By 3 years of age, able to match and identify colors

*A toddler vocabulary is not just what they say but also what they hear or their receptive constabulary. It is what your child understands by listening. Can they follow directions? Do they know specific names?


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my child has a learning disability

My Child has a Learning Disability, Now What

If you are thinking my child has a learning disability, now how do I help them. There are a variety of things that can help a student with learning disabilities or any delays.

First, really consider the student, their needs, likes, interests, and those things that may hinder their education. For example, if they are poor at reading, perhaps when they are working on other subjects provide them with educational tapes on the same subject.

my child has a learning disability

Some common educational practices to use are:

  • relaxation
  • concentration
  • slow down
  • organize
  • write down
  • repeat
  • visualize

Some tweaking of these strategies can be done to accommodate those that need extra help. For example, translate the information into something of their interests. Use imagination and illustrations to make the lesson easier to comprehend. The students can apply the topic to other ideas to reinforce the lesson. It is useful to practice using the new information for better memorization.

“Federal regulations require access and accountability for students with learning disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 [PL 93-112], as amended, requires that individuals with disabilities, including students with learning disabilities, be given equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the policies and procedures customarily granted to all individuals. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 [IDEA], [PL 105-17], regulations require that all students with disabilities participate in a state’s accountability system.

These provisions require participation, but to truly give students a fair assessment, they should be provided the tools necessary to show their full potential/knowledge. This may include non-timed assessments, protection against high-stake tests, opportunity to learn the material, accessible resources, attention to language difference, and appropriate tests that emphasize their abilities not their disabilities.

For students to receive the education necessary for them to show their true potential, they must first be identified. It is teachers and parents jobs to identify possible candidates, so that they may receive appropriate services. Once they are identified, they must find an environment in which they are successful. This will prepare them for the rest of academics which will in turn prepare them for adulthood.

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ADHD and ADD: How to Help a Child Effected



If students are having problems staying on task due to ADD and ADHD, there are a variety of tactic that can be taken. They include, but are not limited to:

making supplies easily accessible
using a manageable amount of work
using behavior modification systems
quiet areas, simplified environment
study buddies
open discussions
using personal stories to illustrate a point
using a variety of tones
framing visual materials to promote focus
using visual signals such as covering your mouth to signal silence.

These examples can be used in both special education and none special education classes. It is important to use what is most applicable to the students, and in order to do this it is essential to truly know the students. Students with learning disabilities, such as ADD and ADHD, may also have difficulty taking state/district-wide assessments. It is essential that these students be provided with the opportunity to truly demonstrate their strengths and knowledge. In order for this to occur, schools must abide to the laws that outline special education.

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