Learning Disabilities

    A Learning Disability can be very broadly defined as an unexpected difficulty in learning. Learning disabilities can be either general (more than one area of difficulty) or very pecific (difficulties with decoding but good sight word reading). Having a diagnosis of a learning disability does not necessarily mean a child also meets the criteria for the educational classification of a learning disability to receive special education supports.
    A very useful but somewhat dense resource on reading disabilities is "Overcoming Dyslexia: A New Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level" by Sally Shaywitz (2004) Alfred A. Knopf.







    Journalist Byron Pitts on Faith, Family and Overcoming Reading Challenges

    8/7/18
    Growing up, Byron Pitts from ABC News was bullied and struggled with his speech and reading issues. "By age 10, 11 and 12, for most people, reading is like breathing. And I couldn't breathe."

    Understanding Disability - Through your child's eyes

    7/13/18
    Parents and Teachers often have a hard time understanding why their child struggles. Its one thing to hear you child has trouble with reading, for example, to understand what that means, if you did not grow up struggling with reading. The same goes for other issues. Understood has a simulation that can give a Parent or a Teacher the chance to experience what this is like. Well worth the time to experience it.
    Click this link to read go the the NICHY page.

    What is Dyscalculia

    6/29/18
    From Understood an expert explains dyscalculia.

    NICHCY Learning Disabilities Fact Sheet

    5/12/13
    National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) Learning Disabilities Fact Sheet.
    Click this link to read go the the NICHY page.
    Click this link to download a pdf of the Fact Sheet.

    What is a Nonverbal Learning Disability

    4/14/13
    "The term Nonverbal Learning Disorders (or NLD) refers to a neurological syndrome believed to result from damage to the white matter connections in the right-hemisphere of the brain, which are important for intermodal integration. Three major categories of dysfunction present themselves: (1) motoric (lack of coordination, severe balance problems, and difficulties with fine graphomotor skills); (2) visual-spatial-organizational (lack of image, poor visual recall, faulty spatial perceptions, and difficulties with spatial relations); and (3) social (lack of ability to comprehend nonverbal communications, difficulties adjusting to transitions and novel situations, and deficits in social judgment and social interaction). Individuals with NLD generally have exceptional verbal skills, do well in school subjects requiring decoding (the word recognition aspect of reading) and encoding (spelling) written language, have excellent auditory attention and memory, and learn primarily through verbal mediation."
    Click this link to read more of this article.

    Helpful information on Dysgraphia

    4/7/13
    "Many students struggle to produce neat, expressive written work, whether or not they have accompanying physical or cognitive difficulties. They may learn much less from an assignment because they must focus on writing mechanics instead of content. After spending more time on an assignment than their peers, these students understand the material less. Not surprisingly, belief in their ability to learn suffers. When the writing task is the primary barrier to learning or demonstrating knowledge, then accommodations, modifications, and remediation for these problems may be in order."
    Click this link to read more of this article.

    Information on Dyscalculia

    9/26/11
    New research is helping to identiy the key features about dyscalculia.
    Click this link to read a summary.
    Click this link to read the article abstract in Science.

    Students with Learning Disabilities can succeed in College

    11/7/09
    Students with Learning Disabilities can go to and succeed in college. The article Flint Township college student recognized for over coming learning disability and ADHD, tells how Kristi Starnes who continues to struggle with dyslexia and ADHD recently won the David and Rosalie Braverman Scholarship, which is awarded to graduate students with disabilities who have helped their communities.
    Click this link to read the story.

    Nobel Prize Winner has Dyslexia

    10/17/09
    Carol W. Greider, Nobel Prize winner in science has dyslexia and was in remedial classes in school.
    Click on this link to read the NY Times story.

    A Review of Research on Dyslexia

    8/8/09
    A review of recent neuroscienceresearch on dyslexia by John Gabrieli (7/09) showing differences in the brain between children with dyslexia and children with out dyslexia and stressing the importance of early intervention.





    Learning Disabiliy Evaluation

    Learning Disabiliy Research

      Learning disabilities: Kids and families struggle beyond the academics

      7/18/18
      "At least half the time when I give feedback from an evaluation, a parent becomes teary," says neuropsychologist and study leader Deborah Waber, PhD, who directs the Learning Disabilities Program at Boston Children's Hospital. "The effect on families is not trivial, and it's been under-appreciated. It's always good to ask families about stress and anxiety if they report concerns about academics." Waber and her colleagues developed a survey-based screening instrument to gauge the effects of learning problems on the child's and family's quality of life. They first sent a 35-question survey to 151 families whose child had been referred to them for evaluation of learning disabilities. They then shortened the survey to 15 questions and sent it to families in a single lower- to middle-income school district in the greater Boston area."
      Click this link to read about the studies

      What Protective Factors Lead to Resilience in Students with Dyslexia?

      3/4/18
      IDA reports that "Students with developmental dyslexia (i.e., reading disorder or specific reading disability) typically have core deficits in phonological processing (i.e., phonological memory, phonological awareness, naming speed). Phonological-awareness weaknesses often result in difficulties with associating letters (graphemes) with the speech sounds (phonemes) that the graphemes spell. These students often experience “downstream” deficits in spelling, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Eventually, these cognitive challenges, and the frustration and stress they cause, have socioemotional effects: Students with dyslexia often experience anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem at levels far above their peers without dyslexia (Mugnaini et al., 2009). Despite these significant risks, many students with dyslexia display remarkably adaptive functional outcomes."
      Click this link to read about the studies

      Dyslexia: When Spelling Problems Impair Writing Acquisition

      12/26/17
      NASAT reports that "Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which affects the ability to adopt the automatic reflexes needed to read and write. Several studies have sought to identify the source of the problems encountered by individuals with dyslexia when they read. Little attention, however, has been paid to the mechanisms involved in writing. Sonia Kandel, Professor at the GIPSA-Lab of the Université Grenoble Alpes (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes/Grenoble INP) and her team1 decided to look at the purely motor aspects of writing in children diagnosed with dyslexia. Their results show that orthographic processing in children with dyslexia is so laborious that it can modify or impair writing skills, despite the absence of dysgraphia in these children. The findings of this study are published in the November 2017 edition of Cognitive Neuropsychology. As soon as a child starts school, it is essential that he or she learns how to write - a skill they are called upon to use constantly. Certain students, however, have trouble mastering this process. Many of these children suffer from dyslexia, and despite presenting no motor disorders, experience greater difficulties in writing than in reading."
      Click this link to read about the studies

      White matter’ behaves differently in children with dyslexia

      11/16/14
      Trans-institutional neuroimaging research at Vanderbilt University finds that the brain may be structured differently in children with dyslexia, a reading disorder that affects up to 17 percent of the population. Together these studies suggest anomalous patterns of subcortical and cortical connectivity that may underlie the functional abnormalities in the left occipito-temporal region in individuals with dyslexia.
      Click this link to read about the studies

      New study: Levels of key brain chemicals predict children's reading ability

      3/22/14
      A new study from Yale University has found an association between children with reading impairments and higher levels of two brain metabolites: glutamate and choline. The Yale team measured these and other brain metabolites in 75 children ages 6 - 10 whose reading levels ranged from impaired reading to superior reading. They found that children with higher glutamate and choline levels tended to have lower composite reading and language scores. This same correlation was found again when the children were retested two years later. Higher levels of glutamate and choline have also been associated with hyperexcitability in children.
      Click this link to go to the site.

      Dyslexia Reversal: Less Gray Matter Not Root Cause

      1/28/14
      Medscape reports taht "Previously reported differences in gray matter volume (GMV) in individuals with dyslexia are not the root cause of the disorder, new research shows. Instead, it is likely that some of these differences come about because typical readers grow brain areas as they acquire reading skills, whereas those with dyslexia do not grow them at the same pace. "It makes sense that typically reading children are experiencing reading-induced brain matter increases, and these types of increases are likely to be reduced in children with dyslexia who read poorly and, most likely, engage in reading less frequently," senior author Guinevere F. Eden, PhD, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, told Medscape Medical News.""
      Click this link to read an abstract of the article.

      Behavioral Training Improves Connectivity and Function in the Brain

      12/13/09
      Children with poor reading skills who underwent an intensive, six-month training program to improve their reading ability showed increased connectivity in a particular brain region, in addition to making significant gains in reading, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study was published in the Dec. 10, 2009, issue of Neuron.
      Click this link to read about the study.

      The Neurobiology of Reading and Dyslexia

      7/19/09
      An article by Sally Shaywitz on the neurologic basis of Dyslexia.
      Click this link to read the article.

    Learning Disabiliy Treatment

      Compensatory Skills and Dyslexia: What Does the Science Say?

      6/6/18
      "Consensus among researchers is that dyslexia is neurobiological in its origin, and evidence-based reading interventions are currently the most effective treatments. Use of effective reading interventions are likely to result in either recovery, compensation, or both. What does neurobiological research know so far about compensatory strategies used by individuals with dyslexia, and what needs further study? What might this mean for the future of reading interventions and accommodations? Fumiko Hoeft M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues from UCFS brainLENS walk readers through emerging research in this area."
      Click this link to read about the studies

      8 Expert Tips on Helping Your Child With Dysgraphia

      12/8/17
      Peg Rosen from Understood - "Does your child struggle with handwriting? Has he been diagnosed with dysgraphia? These exercises from handwriting specialists are fun, effective and easy to practice at home."
      Click this link to read about the studies

      NPR: When Dyslexic Students are denied in School

      12/8/17
      NPR 1A investigates this question
      Click this link to read about the studies

      Strattera shows promise for treating dyslexia

      4/29/17
      New research using a study wwith 209 children (aged 10 - 16 years) with dyslexia only, 124 children with ADHD and dyslexia (ADHD+D) and 27 children with only ADHD, that the use of Strattera (Atomexetine) improved reading in the children with dyslexia and ADHD and dyslexia.
      Click this link to read about the studies

      Phonics Works for teaching reading

      4/28/17
      NASAT reports that "Research published today in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has shown that learning to read by sounding out words (a teaching method known as phonics) has a dramatic impact on the accuracy of reading aloud and comprehension. There has been intense debate concerning how children should be taught to read. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit tested whether learning to read by sounding out words is more effective than focusing on whole-word meanings. In order to assess the effectiveness of using phonics the researchers trained adults to read in a new language, printed in unfamiliar symbols, and then measured their learning with reading tests and brain scans".
      Click this link to read about the studies

      Webinar: The Who, What, When and Why of Reading Instruction

      3/22/14
      In this very informative webinar, Educational Therapist Diana Kennedy outlines the theories behind dyslexia and provides an overview of very helpful strategies and programs to help parents, teachers, and individuals with Dyslexia.
      In this free, one-hour webinar for parents and teachers of children with dyslexia, Educational Therapist Diana Kennedy shares insights into the areas of reading that can break down for children. She also covers warning signs and red flags to look for, assessments that reveal what is happening with a given child, and the major reading programs that address each type of breakdown.
      Click this link to download the slides from the presentation
      Click this link to watch the video of the webinar

      Dysgraphia: a guide to intervention

      5/15/13
      A nicely written guide to Dysgraphia - "Many students struggle to produce neat, expressive written work, whether or not they have accompanying physical or cognitive difficulties. They may learn much less from an assignment because they must focus on writing mechanics instead of content. After spending more time on an assignment than their peers, these students understand the material less. Not surprisingly, belief in their ability to learn suffers. When the writing task is the primary barrier to learning or demonstrating knowledge, then accommodations, modifications, and remediation for these problems may be in order."
      Click this link to read the article.

      Changing print to make it easier for individuals with dyslexia to read

      10/1/12
      New research identifies ways to change print to make it easier for individuals with dyslexia to read. Now with the number of ereaders out there, changing print and font characteristics is easier than ever.
      Click this link to read the article.

      Information on the Orton-Gillingham Approach

      4/3/12
      The Orton-Gillingham approach is a unique language training system that was designed by Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham. This reading program is the foundation of many of our most successful reading techniques used today with individuals with Learning Disabilities. This article explores why the program works and provides a nice overview of how how the brain reads.
      Click on this link to read the article.

Learning Disabilities Quicklinks

NICHCY Learning Disability Fact Sheet - 5/12/13
What is a Nonverbal Learning Disability - 4/14/13

Learning Disability Resources

1 in 5: A new resource for individuals with dyslexia

2/4/14
Learning Ally has created a new online support community and dyslexia resource. The site is explore1in5.org. It's a place where people who have or know others with dyslexia can find others "not only seeking answers, but also dispensing advice. 1in5 is an oasis, rich in audio and video communication, where you can upload your stories and experiences, and watch the stories and experiences of others."
Click this link to go to the site.

Demystifying LD: 18 Facts You Need to Know

6/29/14
From the National Center for Learning Disabilities: 18 Facts about Learning Disabilities.
Click this link to read the article.

NICHCY Learning Disabilities Fact Sheet

5/12/13
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) Learning Disabilities Fact Sheet.
Click this link to read go to the NICHCY page.
Click this link to download a pdf of the Fact Sheet.

© Copyright, all rights reserved Daniel J. DeMarle, Ph.D. 2014