Teaching Students with LD and ADHD

learning differences vs. learning dissability

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Joined: Sep 19, 2006
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Posted Sep 19, 2006 at 6:17:00 AM
Subject: learning differences vs. learning dissability

My son,almost ten,in fourth grade, has just undergone testing by a neuropsychologist, who has responded that he has not so much a learning disability, as much a learning difference. Can someone explain the terminology?
In addition, we are about to send him into Fast ForWord program at his new public school, and scrap an initial forray into Orton-Gillingham. If his difference is not "bad enough" to warrant lots of accomodations and Orton-Gillingham, ( special ed staff "prefers" to not teach him where he left off at Orton-Gillingham), how do we know his Fast Forward will be neither "overkill", nor done indescriminately by untrained personel who never really address his learning difference. Is just throwing a computer into the mix the key to getting him to find out the keys to accepting his difference, so that he may not only "catch-up", but also "grow into" his difference? I am trying to re-adjust my expectations.
[Modified by: vincett on September 19, 2006 10:19 AM]

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Joined Jul 11, 2005
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Posted:Sep 19, 2006 9:16:16 AM

Its interesting that you bring this up as my dd and I have been talking about the difference between Learning Disability and Learning Difference. Here is how I was told to look at it - A Learning Disability means that you do not have the ability to learn. The prefix dis- is a negative. (See Webster's http://www.webster.com/dictionary/dis- ) A Learning Difference means that you have the ability to learn but not necessarily in the same way that is "typical".

My dd definitely has Learning Differences. For her, using a computer is a necessary way for her to learn and be able to show what she learned. Her reading has definitely increased because she uses a Text to Speech program which highlights the words as the text is read. This helps her focus on what is being read, allowing her to connect the words to the sounds. Because of this her "regular" reading has increased. She also uses a Word Prediction program which has helped her ability to spell. Standard memorization of spelling never worked for her but being able to see words consistantly spelled correctly in the word prediction window has increased her ability to produce work and she is consistantly having to pick the right word out of the list. She is finding that this repetition is now carrying over into her handwritten work.

I won't say it will be easy to find what will work for your son but it is SO worth the journey. Experiment with things after school or on the weekends, during vacations and over the summer. If he has difficulty with reading or writing, try different computer programs (there are a lot of demo versions), try different colored backgrounds (my dd does well with purples and blues). There are a LOT of different things to try. :)

Also, don't be afraid to try things that are not the "norm". Sometimes these can be very beneficial. Many people will "poo-poo" the Irlen Syndrome testing (http://www.irlen.com) but it was very effective for my dd and several others I know.

Good luck on your journey!

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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Joined May 12, 2005
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Posted:Sep 19, 2006 9:28:15 PM

Just so you know, FastForWord was designed to improve auditory processing of the sounds of speech (speed and accuracy of recognition). It is very helpful for children who have the particular type of auditory processing problem that it addresses. It will do nothing but waste the time of other children.

Is this a school district that has a license for FFW? Sounds like it.

Do you have any indication at all from prior testing that your son may have an auditory processing problem? Ideally you want that before having the child put all of that time into FFW.

In terms of the disability/difference thing, my bet is that the discrepancies were not large enough to qualify your child for the disability label. Typically what that means is that the child will not get appropriate help unless you, the parent, provide it yourself. Sad, but true.

There are quite a few programs for a parent to choose from these days -- not just reading programs, but also therapies and skills development programs. If you post your child's test results and ask for suggestions here, you will likely get a number of programs to check out for yourself.

Schools are notoriously unreliable about providing what atypical children need in order to thrive.....


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Joined Jul 09, 2007
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Posted:Jul 09, 2007 12:42:26 PM

I am in the middle of researching all this information for my own son. He has never been formally diagnosed with a LD. He does show symptoms of dyslexia and we had him tested at a LearningRX center. His auditory processing was very low but his visual processing was very high. I know that he is capable of learning I just need to find out how to teach him (HE is homeschooled). Therefore, I think these children need to be labeled as having learning differences not learning disabilities.

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Rod Everson
Joined May 20, 2007
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Posted:Jul 11, 2007 12:58:53 AM


I've been working with children who struggle with reading for several years now and have drawn some conclusions that you might find interesting. I'm gradually putting together a website that might be helpful also, but for now you might find this particular page on the site informative

My Take on Dyslexia

If the link doesn't work, go to ontrackreading.com and look for the topic on the sidebar.

Rod Everson
OnTrack Reading

P.S. By the way, a lot of kids with visual skills problems develop very strong visual-spatial skills due to the unique challenges they face in the area of depth perception.

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Joined Feb 06, 2005
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Posted:Jul 11, 2007 5:24:51 AM

Hi Carol,
You mention auditory difficulties, but I wonder if you know about Auditory Processing Disorder?
Where people with APD are typically strong Visual Thinkers.
You might like to have a look at this website:

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Joined Oct 01, 2003
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Posted:Jul 18, 2007 1:17:26 PM

Read what I am doing to teach reading decoding, and learn about the sounds of words at http://learntoreadnow.blogspot.com

I have presented my paper at several national and state conferences.

Anita learntoreadnow

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