Notes - Inclusive Education
Category : Teaching
Inclusive education is an approach to educating students with special educational needs. Under the inclusion model, students with special needs spend most or all of their time with non-disabled students though the implementation of these practices varies from school to school. Schools most frequently use them for selected students with mild to severe special needs.
Inclusive education differs from notions held earlier of 'integration' and 'mainstreaming', which tended to be concerned principally with disability and 'special educational needs' and implied learners changing or becoming 'ready for' or deserving of accommodation by the mainstream. By contrast, inclusion is about the child's right to participate and the school's duty accept the child. Inclusion rejects the use of special schools or classrooms to separate students with disabilities from students without disabilities. It seeks to address the learning needs of all children, youth and adults with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. It emphasizes full participation by students with disabilities and respect for their social, civil, and educational rights.
NATIONAL CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK- 2005
The Social Context of Education
Caste hierarchies, socio-economic status, gender bias, cultural diversity etc. characterize Indian society and deeply influence access to education and participation of children in school. This is evident in the sharp differences between different social and economic groups, which are reflected in school enrolment and completion rates. Thus, girls from SC and ST communities in both rural and urban areas and the disadvantaged sections of religious and other ethnic minorities are educationally most vulnerable. In urban areas and a lot of villages, the school system itself is stratified and provides children with appallingly different educational experiences. Differences in render relations not only perpetuate domination but also create anxieties and stifle the freedom of both boys and girls to develop their capacities to their fullest.
The impact of globalization in every sphere of society has important implications for education. On the one hand, we are witnessing the increasing commercialization of education, and, on the other hand, inadequate public funding for education and the thrust towards 'alternative' schools. These factors indicate a shifting of responsibility for education from the state to the family and the community. We need to be alert about the commodification of schools and the application of market-related concepts to schools and school quality. The increasingly competitive environment into which schools are being drawn and the aspirations of parents place a tremendous burden of stress and anxiety on all children, including the very young, to the detriment of their personal growth and development, and thus hampering the inculcation of the joy of learning.
RTE-SSA REPORT (Right to Education - Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Report)
The RTE Act has important implications for the overall approach and implementation strategies of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and it is necessary to harmonize the SSA vision, strategies and norms with the RTE mandate. The RTE has defined children belonging to disadvantaged group and children belonging to weaker sections as follows:
The Act calls for close collaboration between different government departments, especially Ministries/Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Tribal Affairs, Minority Affairs, Women and Child, and Labor, as they all have important roles to play with respect to different disadvantaged groups. Bringing about a synergy in their efforts will be an important aspect of the task ahead.
Exclusion of Dalit Children
Exclusion of Dalit children by teachers:
Exclusion of Dalit children by peer groups
Exclusion of Dalit children by the system
Based on the above known practices of discrimination the following recommen-dations are made for Inclusion of Dalit Children:
Exclusion of Scheduled Tribe Children:
Children belonging to tribal families face some of the exclusionary practices mentioned above for
Dalit children and, additionally difficulties mentioned below:
In addition, tribal children face some problems peculiar to their situation.
Providing multilingual education is not a simple task. Education in the medium of a tribal language in initial years is challenged by a host of problems such as:
The National Curricular Framework 2005 has made a serious attempt at meeting the learning needs of persons belonging to tribal communities. We recommend that those recommendations be adopted by all state governments and UT Administrations. Some specific recommendations for inclusion of tribal children are made below:
Teaching in the local language by recruiting teachers who can speak tribal languages.
Development of educational material in local languages using resources available within the community.
Establishing regional/state resource centers in tribal dominated states for providing training, academic and other technical support for development of pedagogic tools and education materials catering to multi-lingual situations.
Children of most under-privileged groups
In our country there are hierarchies among the poor. There are groups which are not only the most deprived and exploited, but also quite neglected. These persons deserve a special priority. Appropriate governments and local authorities will have to make careful survey to identify persons of this category. At this stage, the following seem to us to deserve special treatment,
Exclusion of Muslim Children
There is enough evidence that educationally Muslims are an extremely disadvantaged community. There is need to draw them into educational and social mainstream through necessary measures, including that concerned State Governments be advised to notify them as disadvantaged groups under section 2(d) of the Act.
Not only is there no comprehensive policy for the education of Muslim children, there are no specific programs for increasing participation from this large and important minority group. Barring a few scholarships offered by the Minority Affairs Department, no special incentives exist for children from these backgrounds, unlike the other marginalized groups such as the SC and the ST. In fact very little documented evidence about the specific constraints and barriers faced by children from Muslim communities is available as very little research has been done in this area. From the scattered bits of evidence that does exist it can be said that in addition to the general issues of discrimination and harassment faced by children from other disadvantaged and excluded groups, children from Muslim families face some of the following constraints as well:
While discussing education of Muslim children the question of madrassas is usually at the forefront. Two points are worth keeping in mind while exploring strategies for their inclusion:
Demand for madrassa education is not as high as often assumed and in most cases is not seen as a substitute for mainstream education by Muslim families. As sense of losing their identity and feeling threatened by the dominant community has led to a demand for some religious education, but this must not be mistaken for a shift in demand away from a secular education.
Incorporating elements of religious history in the mainstream curriculum, offering Urdu as a language, and other such measures would go a long way in keeping Muslim children in mainstream schools.
Under RTE, madrassas have not been excluded from the purview of the Act implying that all norms and standards mentioned in the Act would apply to madrassas as well. The only exception relates to the norms governing SMCs, where these institutions have been allowed to follow their own norms. There is an important opportunity here to include a secular curriculum into the ambit of madrassa education over above their religious syllabi, which may continue to be taught.
Both these measures could contribute to building confidence in the minority community and lead to the reduction of marginalization of Muslim children from the education process.
Recommendations for Inclusion of Muslim Children
Strategies for dealing with Reservation in Private Schools:
One of the strategies for dealing with marginalization of disadvantaged communities within the Act is to provide for 25% reservation in private and unaided schools. This provision has generated a lot of debate and discussion amongst educationists as well the public at large. While those in favor of private provision of education see this as a potential spoiler of quality within private schools, many proponents of the reservation see it as a sort of "prize" now available to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Coverage of children with disabilities in India within the RTE Act (RTE Act 2009)
Approach and Coverage
Identification of Children with Disabilities
As per the most recently published (DISE) data, the proportion of children with disabilities enrolled to total enrolment is only 0.84%. The total number of identified children with disabilities to total population of all children in the age group 6-14 at 1.48% is also very low (as per 2001 Census). SSA has provision for collection of data regarding children with disabilities through household surveys, assessment camps etc. There is an urgent need to streamline the process of identification through the above as well as DISE. This must be accompanied by training of the surveyors, enumerators and other government functionaries at different levels. A study by MHRD has revealed that 40% of all out-of-school children are children with special needs. Therefore early identification must be given due importance.
An inclusive space for education of all children should be made available and appropriate strategies need to be followed. The SSA Framework provides that 'as far as possible every child with special needs should be placed in regular schools, with needed support services'. Under SSA, a wide range of options for educational services have been given, including for example, open school, non-formal and alternative schooling, distance education, special schools and home-based education. This range of options and strategies should be reviewed in the context of the RTE Act, which entitles all children to elementary education in regular schools that meet the norms and standards specified in the Schedule to the Act.
Children with disabilities need to be facilitated to acquire certain skills that will enable them to access elementary education as envisaged in the Act. For instance, they may need mobility training, training in Braille, sign language, tactile sign-language, and postural training, etc. Thus, school preparedness of children with disabilities must be ensured by providing 'special training' as envisaged under section 4 of the RTE Act. This training may be residential, nonresidential or even home based, as per their specific requirements.
The existing non formal and alternate schooling (including home based education) options for children with disabilities can be recast as 'special training'. This means that
(a) All children with special needs who are not enrolled in schools or have dropped out, will first be enrolled in a neighborhood school in an age appropriate grade,
(b) Children will be entitled to 'special training' through regular teachers or teachers specifically appointed for the purpose.
Education of the backward- Scheduled Caste and Tribes
Historically, the education of both the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been adversely affected by the ubiquity of unequal diffusion and provision of schooling. For several decades after independence, their habitations were not adequately provided with educational facilities due to paucity of resources and the gap between the massive scale of the required operation and the political will equally of state and society. The situation improved over the years, yet inadequate provision continues to serve as the most fundamental of educational deterrents to educational participation of SC/ST children. What is most alarming is the reversal today of earlier policy of equitable provision under the impact of structural adjustment. We will examine this issue shortly.
Existing schooling conditions for SC and ST vary from non-provision and under provision to the provision of the most inferior facilities, even at the basic primary level. Pre-primary education for them is even more minimal. Furthermore, both the spread and organization of the Indian education system reflect quite clearly the caste-class-tribe-gender stratified structure of society and its hierarchical ideology. The schooling system is organized in a pyramid-type hierarchy in terms of quality and social composition. Urban elite schools rank at the top and rural schools especially those located in SC and ST habitations rank at the bottom in terms of quality. Low caste and tribal children are disproportionately located in the worst schools. The effective result has been continued educational deprivation and exclusion. Several dimensions of unequal provision and unequal quality are:
1. Inadequate availability of schools
2. Poor implementation of school level policies of positive discrimination
3. Poor physical infrastructure of schools
4. Inadequacy of teachers and teaching
5. Poor provision of teaching learning material
Inadequate Availability of Schools
Geographical location continues to be a significant predictor of whether a child will attend school, how far she will continue in school and in what type of school. Schooling within easy access has been relatively poor for the SC/ST children as compared to the general population. Scheduled Caste families, usually live in spatially segregated clusters or habitations in multi-caste villages. These residential patterns have important implications for physical and social access. School provision in predominantly Scheduled Caste habitations is much less as compared to general rural habitations. Upper-primary schooling is available within an even smaller number of habitations. On the whole, higher caste habitations within larger villages are better provided.
Poor Physical Infrastructure of Schools
A majority of studies suggest that physical/infrastructural facilities are totally inadequate and particularly deplorable in schools accessed by SC and ST, including the private schools. The majority of SC/ST children are in regular government schools. Buildings are dilapidated or badly in need of repair and basic furniture and teaching equipment is non-existent or of pathetic quality. There are of course state and regional variations. The poorest of physical infrastructure and basic amenities afflict schools in remote tribal areas. There is also a high incidence of very poorly and irregularly functioning schools.
There are reports from rural Punjab, Odisha, and Rajasthan's SC and Tribal dominated districts that reveal shortage of basics such as classrooms, drinking water facilities and teachers. Reports of neglect, indifference, greater teacher absenteeism from dalit and tribal dominated schools have accumulated, pointing to the grim reality that exists on the ground. Exceptions too have been noted, for example studies of Garhwal, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Kerala show that there are several regions in which the SC and ST have a fairly good provision for education. In certain areas in Maharashtra for e.g., Zilla Parishad schools are fairly good. Further, it is important to break the common misconception that rural schools are necessarily worse than urban. There are indications from Maharashtra that government rural schools may be in far better shape than urban municipal schools because most rural schools have a mix of higher and lower castes and classes whereas in urban areas where the choice of school is greater, the municipal schools cater almost exclusively to the poor, lower castes and tribes.
Inadequacy of Teachers and Teaching Transaction
A highly inadequate teaching force has been the most critical factor of equality of opportunity. Teacher-pupil ratios in schools frequented by SC and ST have been much higher than those in other schools meant for higher caste villagers. Multi-grade teaching often amounts to very limited teaching or no teaching at all! The problem of insufficient number of teachers has been compounded by the problem of unmotivated teachers, which is reflected in teacher absenteeism. Teachers for SC and ST children primarily belong to non-SC or non-tribal backgrounds. They are highly irregular in attending since they live outside the villages. This is a common feature in schools located in remote areas. There are reports of "paper schools' which remain closed during the year and yet others for years on end especially in remote tribal areas. This is the situation particularly in remote tribal areas.
Dysfunctional and poorly organized school environments, inadequate number of teachers, the adoption of most conventional and uninteresting teaching methods together makes for a situation where the teaching transaction is poor and inadequate. Poor teacher competence is also a critical negative factor. At the same time however, poor working conditions which can de-motivate and demoralize even the most motivated of the primary school teacher need to be highlighted. Teachers are expected to work in isolation under harsh conditions. Worse still their teaching function is disrupted by the mandatory rules of performing all kinds of government work.
Curriculum, Pedagogy and Evaluation: Implications for SC and ST children
Curriculum is a mediator of dominance and hegemony, exploring ideological issues in the selection and structuring of knowledge and in pedagogic practice. The concept of curriculum is used hereto designate the experiences pupils have under the guidance of the school. Most issues in this area are predicated upon the assumption that appropriate school experiences can indeed make a significant difference to learning and lives of SC/ST children. Content of curriculum and internal operations are thus key issues that need to be addressed. Also very important are related areas of pedagogic methods, assessment and evaluation.
In India, curriculum and the content of education have been central to the processes of reproduction of caste, class, cultural and patriarchal domination-subordination. In post-independence educational policy, modification of content supposedly aimed at indigenization resulted in Brahmanisation as a key defining feature of the curriculum. Brahmanisation has been evident in the emphasis on
1. Pure language
2. Literature and other "knowledge" of society, history, polity, religion and culture that is produced by higher castes which reflects Brahmanical world view and experiences and Brahmanical perspectives on Indian society, history and culture, and
3. High caste, cultural and religious symbols, linguistic and social competencies, modes of life and behavior.
Furthermore, the overarching stress has been an eulogizing mental as against manual labor. The heavily gendered nature of school curricular content was evident in that women's specialized knowledge and skills systems found no place in it or in the general curricular discourse. Rather they were used for devaluation and stereotyping of the female sex in curriculum. Curriculum is thus urban elite male-centric and bereft of the country's rich cultural diversity. There has been a corresponding devaluation of "lesser" dialects, cultures, traditions, and folklore of dalits and adivasis as also of peasantry. The second defining feature of the curriculum on the other hand, was its 'colonial' character which privileged western modernization. The ideology however was adopted in truncated, superficial ways - the emphasis being on the incorporation of knowledge of Western science and technology, viz. that of the "hard Western sciences", the English language and Western styles of life. Curricular structure and culture of the colonial model has remained unchanged.
Today, things have changed substantially and large numbers of parents are prepared to forego children's labor and send them to school. However school organization and curricula have not been sensitive as yet to fundamentally different economic situations, life aims and social circumstances of children belonging to poorer strata households or communities in the shaping of the school structure. What is problematic for ST and ST students is school norms of attendance, discipline, homework, tests and exams, and ethnocentric demands of concentration and memorization of the content of the text by 'rote'. Furthermore, the curriculum itself as a tool of cultural dominance and hegemony has an alienating and intimidating impact. Teaching- learning material such as blackboards, chalk, texts and other reading material, laboratory equipment, instructional aid is always in short supply, of poor quality or simply nonexistent.
Curriculum and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes
Dominant forms of inequality and hierarchy are made invisible in the discourse on common nationhood and common and equal citizenship, which the school curriculum propagates. Professor Krishna Kumar's studies have focused attention on how the dominant groups' ideas about education and the educated get reflected in the curriculum. Following the curriculum, Indian texts uphold symbols of the traditional/ male dominated feudal society and its obsolete cultural values and norms. However, that the value content of education is out of tune with the reality of the changing, dynamic India is a matter of choice - a choice consciously or unconsciously made by those selecting textbook material from the available body of literature and by those creating it. Worthwhile knowledge is that which is linked to the values and lifestyles of dominant groups!
Like the Scheduled castes, the curriculum does not acknowledge cultural rights of the Scheduled tribes too who are denied their own culture and history. School curriculum fails to take account of tribal cultures as autonomous knowledge systems with their own epistemology, transmission, innovation and power. Like the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes rarely feature in textbooks, and when they do, it is usually in positions servile to upper caste characters. The 'cultural discontinuity' between school and home draws attention to the rigidity of school organization and the emphasis on discipline and punishment in contrast with socialization practices and the lives of children, as reasons for non-attendance.
The Language Question:
Exclusion of their language has been a critical factor in the dropout rates of these children. Despite several policy documents and a constitutional provision (350A) recognizing that linguistic minorities should be educated in their mother tongue at primary level, there is practically no education in Scheduled Tribe languages. Although states in India were organized on linguistic grounds, political powerlessness of Scheduled Tribes prevented the formation of states based on tribal languages. They are confined to minority status within large states and are compelled to learn the state language in school. Primary teachers are predominantly from non-ST communities. And despite the pedagogic significance of initial instruction in the mother tongue, teachers do not bother to learn the tribal language even after several years of posting. The general picture at primary level is often one of mutual incomprehension between ST students and their non-ST teachers. Several studies have pointed to the significance of the language question at the primary levels.
HIDDEN CURRICULUM AND SC/ST CHILDREN
In the school and in classrooms, teacher-pupil interaction is central to teaching and learning processes. Teacher's social background (caste, religion, language), affect their interactions with students. Middle class higher caste teachers are very unhappy with the environments of schools for the poor and axe poorly motivated to teach children of the poor, particularly of SC/ST background, who are 'derogatorily' categorized as uneducable. There is an appalling body of evidence that suggests that teacher's preconceptions, bias and behavior, subtle or overt, conscious or unconscious operate to discriminate against children of SC and ST background. Teachers are observed to have low expectations of SC and ST children and girls and a condescending attitude towards children from slums. Teachers also have stated or unstated assumptions of "deprived" and "deficient" cultural backgrounds, languages and inherent intellectual deficiencies of SC and/ ST children. They follow discriminatory pedagogic practices of labeling, classifying and teaching styles and operate on the basis of "realistic" perceptions of low caste children's limited cognitive capacities and life chances. For e.g. teachers beliefs about Mushar children in Bihar are that they are just not interested in education and that they do not have any 'tension' in life
Recommendations of the Focus Group is as follows:
(a) Provision: We strongly reiterate the need for equitable provision in terms of quality of schooling at different levels, educational infrastructure and other facilities, qualified teachers, teaching learning materials, texts and others. It is crucial to enhance the autonomy and working conditions of teachers, and teacher self-esteem. All nonteaching work load must be taken off the teacher. The educational environment of substandard dysfunctional schools must change for any meaningful and effective curricular reform.
(b) We recommend the need to identify areas and groups which continue to suffer marked exclusion and neglect to enable a more focused implementation of positive discrimination policies. We also emphasize the need to invest greater financial and educational resources for their educational development.
(c) School Organization: There is need for flexibility in school structures and cultures. School times, calendars and holidays must keep in mind local contexts.
(d) The school system requires a more generous and efficient provision of facilities meant for SC and ST children. It is important for all concerned to engage with those struggling for rights of these communities, especially those committed to their educational advancement.
(a) Curricular goals must emphasize critical thinking and critical evaluation and appreciation of Indian society and culture. Equal opportunity for intellectual growth, cognitive development, social and emotional development of underprivileged children must be sought. Curriculum must aim at promotion of creative talents, productive skills, dignity of labor, underlined by values of equality, democracy, secularism, social and gender justice.
(b) Curricular content: An approach rooted in critical theory and critical multiculturalism is essential to critique the unjust social order, to indigenize and incorporate diverse cultures and prevent loss of valuable cultural heritage. We must make a commitment to the preservation of all languages as a matter of communities' cultural rights as well as of national pride.
(c) Curriculum should lead to identification and creativity, not alienation. There is need to incorporate all creative arts, crafts and oral expression, especially those rooted in indigenous knowledge and skill systems.
(d) Curriculum must develop a critical social science and humanities; content aimed at the achievement of curricular goals. A balance between curricular subjects is essential.
(e) There is need to develop critical multicultural texts and reading material.
(a) Incorporation of diverse pedagogic methods and practices towards enhancing learning and democratic classroom practice is essential.
(b) We need to develop constructive critical pedagogy and specific guidance on classroom practices with a view to eschew discrimination against children on the basis of caste, class, tribe, gender, identity/ ability etc.
(c) Improvement is required in the affective climate of school, to enable teachers and students to participate freely in knowledge construction and learning.
(d) There is need to develop pedagogic practices that aim at improving self-esteem and identity of SC and ST.
(e) Non-graded instruction with judicious use of tests for evaluation of learning may be considered.
(f) Making available a wide range of texts and other reading and instructional material is absolutely essential.
(a) Home languages must be made the media of instruction / communication in the early years of school education. They must be seen as integral to creating an enabling school environment for children and crucial for the process of learning. The pedagogic rationale is that moving from the known to the unknown facilitates learning. Language is a critical resource that children bring to school and aids thought, communication and understanding.
(b) Home languages in classroom process are also essential to build child's self-esteem and self-confidence.
(c) Transition to regional language will be facilitated through learning of home language.
(d) Where there are more than one tribal languages used in any village, we recommend the use of the regional lingua franca or the majority language after consultation with villagers.
(e) Teacher training must include the stipulation that teachers pass an exam in a local language.
Gender inequality in education
The social barriers inhibiting parents from sending girls to school are:
All these inhibit parents from getting their girls enrolled. Girls have to stay at home once they attain puberty and must be protected till they are married. And they become part of another family, leaving the parental home. Add to this, the commonly held belief that marriage is the be-all and end-all for girls, leading to early marriage and pregnancy. So naturally the son is sent to the school, not the daughter.
Innovations that have made a difference
There is no dearth of interesting innovations in India - in both the government as well as me non-government sector. The table below captures the range of innovations that are underway across the country. What is, however, worrisome is that many of them have remained small-scale pilot efforts and have not led to systemic reforms in the mainstream.
India Case Study, 20 June 2003
Table IV: Some Key Issues and Successful Models Issue
Successful models/ innovations
Lack of access in rural/remote areas and dysfunctional schools
Running non-formal schools/ alternative schools in rural/ remote areas;
Residential schools for tribal children and / or children of specific communities / erstwhile child workers;
Short-term bridge courses followed by admissions into residential schools.
Cini Asha (W. Bengal) Creda (up) maya (Karnataka)
Shiksha Karmi project of Rajasthan
Education Guarantee Scheme of Madhya Pradesh Sahaj Shiksha Kendras (Alternative Schools) in Rajasthan lok jumbish Ashram Shalas in Odisha, andhra Pradesh
Learning Guarantee Scheme in Karnataka (with Corporate Partner) Balika Shikshan Shivir of Lok Jumbish
Community apathy towards girls’ education
— especially of women
Campaign against child
girls' education and
health fairs to kindle
interest in education
and provide advice/
Special Programmes with
Concerned for Working Children (Karnataka) BGVS- several states of India Doosra Dashak (Rajasthan)
Lok Jumbish of Rajasthan
DPEP Model Cluster
Approach in Uttar Pradesh
Panduga) campaigns in
Chinnara Angala of
Developing relevant curriculum and provide training to teachers in both formal as well as alternative streams.
Nirantar (Delhi) Eklavya (MP) Digantar, Bodh, Sandhaan, (rajasthan)
DPEP efforts in kerala andkarnatakaa
Non-availability of women teachers
Mahila Shikshan Kendra (of Mahila Samakhya programme),Mahila Shikshan Vihar of lok jumbish and mahila Prashikshan Kendra of Shiksha Karmi project have tried to provide intensive , good quality education for school dropouts and never-been-to
Mahila Shikshan Kendras run under mahila Samakhya programe of GOI in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh,
The DPEP (District Primary Education Program) is a special program of the Government of India to increase enrolment of girls at the primary level and helping sustain it. One of its thrusts is the elimination of gender discrimination in the schools. In fact, there is a substantial gender focus in it. The decentralized implementation of the program provides for specific interventions for girls. Program goals include concentrated effort on reduction of gender disparities in education, as reflected in lower enrolment, retention and achievement of girls, particularly those from socially and economically disadvantaged groups. It emphasizes the role of the community in helping the school to combat sex stereotyping. It encourages local communities, particularly women to play an active role in every aspect of the program. This includes intensive capacity building for groups in the community to focus on issues relating to the education of girls and boys. Involvement of the community is also required in monitoring enrolment, retention and levels of achievement and classroom behavior and transaction, with emphasis on girls. Moreover, the mid-day meal scheme is intended to attract children of the poorer sections to enroll in schools.
CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Learning disabilities is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in (he acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing/ reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and are presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction. Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (e.g., sensory impairment, mental retardation, social or emotional disturbance) or environmental influences (e.g., cultural differences, insufficient/inappropriate instruction, psychogenic factors), it is not the direct result of these conditions or influences.
Students with learning disabilities are not all alike. The most common characteristics are specific difficulties in one or more academic areas; poor coordination; problems paying attention; hyperactivity and impulsivity; problems organizing and interpreting visual and auditory information; disorders of thinking, memory, speech, and hearing; and difficulties making and keeping friends. Most students with learning disabilities have difficulties reading. These difficulties appear to be caused by problems with relating sounds to letters that make up words, making spelling hard as well.
SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITIES
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
Professionals may refer to the ability to hear well as "auditory processing skills" or "receptive language."
Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, this is a condition that adversely affects how sound that travels unimpeded through the ear is processed or interpreted by the brain. Individuals with APD are not able to distinguish between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. They can also find it difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, to make sense of the order of sounds, or to block out competing background noises.
Dyscalculia (Learning Disabilities in Math)
A specific learning disability that affects a person's ability to understand numbers and learn math facts. Individuals with this type of LD may also have poor comprehension of math symbols, may struggle with memorising and organizing numbers, have difficulty in operating signs and number "facts", (like 5 + 5 = 10 or 5 x 5 = 25) have difficulty telling time or have trouble with counting principles (such as counting by 25 or counting by 55.)
Dysgraphia (Learning Disabilities in Writing)
A specific learning disability that affects a person's handwriting ability and fine motor skills. Problems may include illegible handwriting, inconsistent spacing, poor spatial planning on paper, poor spelling, and difficulty composing writing as well as thinking and writing at the same time.
Dyslexia (Learning Disabilities in Reading)
The most commonly known is a reading disability, sometimes called dyslexia. There is no difference in meaning between the terms dyslexia and reading disability. Dyslexia involves difficulties with phonological processing, including such abilities as knowing the relationship between letters and sounds and phonological awareness?that is, the ability to segment the speech stream into separate elements. Over the years, a consensus has emerged that one core deficit in dyslexia is a severe difficulty with phonological processing (Usually individuals with dyslexia have spelling problems, but the presence of spelling difficulties without reading difficulties does not indicate dyslexia.
Language Processing Disorder (LPP)
A specific type of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) in which there is difficulty attaching meaning to sound groups that form words, sentences and stories. While an APD affects the interpretation of all sounds coming into the brain, a Language Processing Disorder (LPD) relates only to the processing of language. LPD can affect expressive language and/or receptive language.
Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities
A disorder which is usually characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual-spatial and social skills. Typically, an individual with NLD (or NVLD) has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language, and may have poor coordination.
Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
A disorder that affects the understanding of information that a person sees, or the ability to draw or copy. A characteristic seen in people with learning disabilities such as Dysgraphia or Non- verbal LD, it can result in missing subtle differences in shapes or printed letters, reversing letters or numbers, skipping words, misperceiving depth or distance, losing place frequently, struggles with cutting, holding pencil too tightly, or poor eye/hand coordination.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
A disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, have problems sitting still, difficulty controlling behavior and unable to follow instructions. Although ADHD is not considered a learning disability, research indicates that from 30 to 50 percent of children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability, and that the two conditions can interact to make -earning extremely challenging.
Dyspraxia (Learning disabilities in motor skills)
A disorder that is characterized by difficulty in muscle control, which causes problems with movement and coordination, language and speech, and can affect learning. Although not a learning -Usability, dyspraxia often exists along with dyslexia, dyscalculia or ADHD.
Children with autism spectrum disorders may have trouble communicating, reading body language, learning basic skills, making friends and making eye contact.
Executive Functioning: An inefficiency in the cognitive management systems of the brain that affects a variety of neuropsychological processes such as planning organisation, strategising, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space. Although not a learning disability, different patterns of weakness in executive functioning are almost always seen in the learning profiles of individuals who have specific learning disabilities or ADHD.
Language disorders may arise from many sources, because so many different aspects of the individual are involved in learning language. A child with a hearing impairment will not learn to speak normally. A child who hears inadequate language at home will learn inadequate language. Children who are not listened to, or whose perception of the world is distorted by emotional problems, will reflect these problems in their language development. Because speaking involves movements, any impairment of the motor functions involved with speech can cause language disorders. And because language development and thinking are so interwoven, any problems in cognitive functioning can affect ability to use language.
Students who cannot produce sounds effectively for speaking are considered to have a speech disorder. Articulation problems and stuttering are the two most common problems.
Articulation disorders include substituting one sound for another (thunthine for sunshine), distorting a sound (shoup for soup)/ adding a sound (ideer for idea), or omitting sounds (po-y for pony).
Stuttering generally happens between the ages of 3 and 4. It is not yet clear what causes stuttering, but it can lead to embarrassment and anxiety for the sufferer. In about 50% of the cases, stuttering disappears during early adolescence.
Voicing problems, a third type of speech impairment, include speaking with an inappropriate pitch, quality or loudness or in a monotone. A student with any of these problems should be referred to a speech therapist.
Reading habits and errors
Do any of your students show these signs? They could be indications of learning disabilities.
Poor Reading Habits
Word Recognition Errors
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD) is a problem with sustaining attention and controlling impulses. As students, almost all of us have these problems at one time or another, but a student with ADHD shows them much more frequently than usual, and often at home as well as at school. In the classroom, the student with ADHD may fidget and squirm a lot, or have trouble remaining seated, or continually get distracted and off task, or have trouble waiting for a turn, or blurt out answers and comments. The student may shift continually from one activity to another, or have trouble playing quietly, or talk excessively without listening to others. Or the student may misplace things and seem generally disorganized, or be inclined to try risky activities without enough thought to the consequences. Although the list of problem behaviors is obviously quite extensive, keep in mind that the student will not do all of these things. It is just that over time, the student with ADHD is likely to do several of them chronically or repeatedly, and in more than one setting (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). In the classroom, of course, the behaviors may annoy classmates and frustrate teachers.
A child can have a hearing loss for a variety of reasons, varying from disease m early childhood, to difficulties during childbirth, to reactions to toxic drugs. In the classroom, however, the cause of the loss is virtually irrelevant because it makes little difference in how to accommodate a student's educational needs. More important than the cause of the loss is its extent. Students with only mild or moderate loss of hearing are sometimes called hearing impaired or hard of hearing; only those with nearly complete loss are called deaf. As with other sorts of disabilities, the milder the hearing loss, the more likely you are to encounter the student in a regular classroom, at least for part of the day.
Signs of hearing loss
A serious hearing loss tends to be noticed quickly and therefore often receive special help sooner. Mild or moderate hearing loss is much more common, however, and is probably overlooked or mistaken for some other sort of learning problem.
Teaching students with hearing loss
Adjustments in teaching students with hearing loss are easy to make though they do require deliberate actions or choices by the teacher and by fellow students. Interestingly, many of the strategies make good advice for teaching all students!
Teaching students with visual impairment
In general, advice for teaching students with mild or moderate visual impairment parallels the advice for teaching students with hearing loss, though with obvious differences because of the nature of the students' disabilities.
Learn a bit of basic Braille and encourage classmates to do the same, even if none of you ever become as skilled with it as the student himself.
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