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Starting New Thread-LDs or not

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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Mar 10, 2002 at 3:35:35 PM
Subject: Starting New Thread-LDs or not

I think it is time we start a new thread as this is a different topic than was originally posted. Maybe this should even be moved to the Teaching LD board. I guess I'm not explaining myself clearly. I too am a teacher. I do not have a post-graduate degree behind my name. My only credentials are my 20 years as a teacher, the books I have read, and the work I've done with my own kids. My post was just my opinion the way I see it. I feel there are way too many kids diagnosed with LDs. Is it because they have a disability? What causes a disability? If we as teachers and parents could address perceptual skills so the kids are prepared for learning, wouldn't that help some of the kids learn so they don't have deficits later? Just going over and over recognition of the alphabet and sounds are not enough if visual and auditory perceptual skills are not where they should be. Why aren't these skills ever the focus of early education? The K class in our school does a variety of alphabet activities, but that is not enough. There are kids who just can't "remember" the letter names or who can't "hear" the differences. It is my belief we need to change the focus of early education otherwise it is these kids who all of a sudden in Gr 2-4 who are diagnosed with a disability and are at least 2 years behind where they should be. In our system, you have to be 2 years behind before any services will be offered. Usually kids aren't placed until at least grade 4. If we provided good reading and math programs to the students from early on, wouldn't this also help? The popular reg ed textbooks do not teach reading in which all can learn from. I think we all know that some of the kids in the room practically teach themself no matter how bad the textbook or how bad a job we do as a teacher.

In summary, I believe some of our kids would not be diagnosed with LDs if foundational learning skills would be the focus of early education at home and at school, and if good, sound programs would be used in the reg classroom. I believe that some of the LDs could be alleviated. Do we have kids now that read better than 50 years ago? Shouldn't our focus be on cutting down the number of labeled children. I think so. If I find the book that has statistics on reading years ago and now I will post again later.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 3:39:48 PM

One more thing, yes I do believe there would still be learning disabilities, but not near the number we have now.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 4:24:11 PM


Actually TS,I somewhat agree with this.
I am dyslexic,37 years old. I am the mother of two boys who have a definite language based disability,formally named dysgraphic, among a few more labels.
I was diagnosed in Kindergarten,basicly because I was really uncoordinated physically also. ( okay I would throw a ball backwards) Anyway,I did not learn to read until I was in the 8th grade,and I you can see from some of the other posts I am a poor speller.
It took literally years for me to convince the school system my children were enrolled in, that they too, had the very same difficulties,and were in need of another way to learn. It took multiple evaluations and labels before I could get them the help they needed.
The best reading program is the one that helps the kid learn. Problem is every kid is so very different in their difficulties. School tend to go with whatever the average student learns with. Unfortunately it isn't always beneficial to the kid who needs it taught another way.

I literally visualize in picture form,not words. Words were confusing and to this day,I must say the alphabet over in my head before coming to the correct letter to use.The other huge component is respectfulness for differences. My boys are now in a school were everyone has a learning deficit,needs vary from auditory learner to visual one. Strengths are built on and everyone respects everyone elses right to learn their way. I write at a 90 degree angle,if not allowed to do this my handwriting would be illegible.Sometimes it can be a simple matter of saying,hey if you can read that book by memorizing the words,go for it. Know what I am saying? We are getting better at pinpointing the area of difficulties,we also have three times the amount of students in one room. If not for the way the system works in general there probably wouldn't need to be a reason to use half of the labels we do.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 6:29:46 PM


Several years ago whilst sitting around with my son's
Resource teachers they expressed the same thought to me.

And since I figure they are right in the middle of it all
they probably have a valid point.

Anne

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 6:49:08 PM

... you are suggesting that there are lots of people identified as having learning disabilities who could have avoided that label... and that we can keep the number of labeled folks down by identifying and dealing with problems early -- which would be labeling 'em earlier instead of later.

I think it's pointless to compare reading now to 50 years ago because of the number of variables over which we have no control.
I do agree completely and utterly that better teaching and perceptual skills development early on would mean fewer kids in the special ed rooms later.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 7:49:11 PM

So what's your point? If it is to have more preschools available at more affordable cost to families, I'm with you there.

Past that, I'd have trouble agreeing with you. The rise in the diagnosis of learning differences is due to our increased understanding of these issues. First described in 1907, it's sadly taken this long for us to get our act even somewhat together. It's also true that in the past few decades we are more interested in meeting individual needs in our society and one expression of that have been the laws that define and protect children with learning differences.

But I certainly support your interest in affordable preschools.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 8:09:50 PM

I also agree with you that there are too many students who are labeled LD for what ever reason today. I also think that if the teachers in the grades K-3 who give very direct phonetic awareness instruction some of the problems that arise in 4th, 5th grade and beyond might not occur. I am on both ends of this problem. I am a teacher in high school-9th and a parent of a daughter who has some processing problems. In my daughters situation, she was fine in k and 1, but problems started in 2nd. She had a very nice first year teacher who probably did not really know what to do. They just wanted her to go to summer school which is a joke in our system, in my opinion. I wasn't until late in the 3rd grade that the school would test her. The next year was not an improvement. She was put in such a disruptive class I do not think anyone learned anything. She did make progress in 5th grade, but now we are at a stand still again. I know from personal experience if she had had help in 2nd grade along with my help at home she would not be 2 years behind her peers in language arts skills. They are also still insisting that achieving academic success is the major goal. What student doesn't want academic success. Schools need to start addressing the problems, not just modify them so a student can pass.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 8:22:07 PM

I never said labeling them earlier. I would like to see the curriculum change emphasis to developing these skills. Maybe, just a thought, we are trying to teach the academics too soon. Starting earlier and earlier with letter, number recognition, etc. is not what I mean.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 8:33:22 PM

Show me the statistics that show our kids are doing better academically now then they were years ago.

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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 9:08:18 PM

I have wondered about the increasingly wide range of kids that regular ed. elementary teachers are called upon to teach, with academic standards increasing and state-mandated tests yearly. We chose private tutoring and lots of work at home for our bright ld son, feeling that the classroom teacher had her hands full with the kids who have behavior problems, are slow-learners, and the high functioning autistic students. Yes, we were very frustrated and angry, but how could one teacher reach all those students, most labeled as ld. Yes, they mostly were academic low-achievers, but not all were ready for the academics in a fastpaced school system. We have a system that uses total inclusion, no resource rooms, for everyone in K-5.

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Posted:Mar 10, 2002 10:12:38 PM

.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 9:00:39 AM

Hi to all,

I have just caught up with this discussion. I raised similar isues on one of the other forum groups here recently. As a teacher of students with special needs I come across many students who are experiencing difficulties in basic areas which are causing them difficulty when they reach their 3rd or 4th year of schooling.

I believe that most of this can be put down to them not acquiring the basic skills of phonemic awareness( rhyming, sound manipulation, syllables and word play). I have had many discussions with peers about the importance of such activities and not just sound/letter recognition. Many of these students are able to get their way through the first few years because they are able to build a bank of words which gets them through many of the earlier literacy activities. They are not decoding or encoding at all. What happens as the words, sentences etc get more complex they are suddenly caught out because they do noy possess the necessary skills. These children need explicit teaching of such skills and they never will "just catch it"

Another trend I have observed in over the last years is the rush by parents to get their children through the lower levels of reading. There appears to be some prestige with the fact that a child is on to a certain level quickly or before someone else. I hear comments of "they get bored", "this one is too easy", "can we have a cahpter book" " he read so easily". Many of these children are the ones teachers are coming to me about in later years as the ones needing help.

Solutions, I do not know. Waiting for ideas!!!!!!!!!!!!

helen

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 9:10:47 AM

I agree with you that teaching underlying skills would alleviate some LDs. I suspect this sort of teaching would help most the kids who fall through the cracks though or other fairly mild LDs. These are the ones that don't always qualify but don't suceed either. I actually think that the sort of teaching you are talking about will actually pinpoint serious LDs earlier because these kids won't respond as well. My son was identified as having a speech disability at 3 and entered school as a special ed student. He had all sorts of issues that I didn't realize later but would have been very obvious in K with the type of teaching you are talking about. Interestingly enough, his school did do some sort of visual screening for K which he did score horrid on but not any sort of teaching to build up visual skills. They also didn't screen auditorially. I know there are some systems that screen kids in K for auditory issues--like blending ect. The kids who do poorly then get more help with the idea that this will avoid problems later. It is more difficult and expensive to remediate problems by the time a child is identified in 4th grade.

I honestly think my child would still be identified as LD even with that sort of teaching but I would have had the school doing the same sorts of things we have ended up doing at home and privately which would have been a big benefit.

Beth

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 12:05:06 PM

You are so right. I did not want to get an IEP for my son. I felt that I was forced to get him on an IEP so the school system would notice that he was reading at a 2nd grade level in the 5th grade. Not one teacher acknowledged (or knew) that he could not read. His class room grades were in the C to D range (Passing) but his standardized test scores (Iowa Basics and State Standardized Test) were terrible. What does one do to make the schools recongnize the fact that intensive math and reading needs to be the focus in K-5. I strongly believe that this would help a large number of kids who fall through the cracks. If they only knew that by the time these kids get to the Jr. High/Middle School level and they are three and four grade levels behind, they hate school. Our schools need help in the "how to's" of teaching basic skills.

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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 12:52:25 PM

If I understand correctly this is the focus of Dr. Laura Moats and the results of her research with NICHD. The National Reading Panel results pretty much say the same thing and explain that it is cheap teaching balanced and whole language methods of reading and it is difficult to get school districts to accept greater expense at preschool level. Also from what I've read about CAPD if kids could be identified and helped in preschool and kindergarton they can learn to compensate early enough for this not to cause a reading problem. What I hear again and again is that all kids do the things my son did so there's no way of identifying kids who need these things until 3rd or 4th grade when it's too late. Would that be true if all kindergarton thru 2nd grade teachers were trained in a phonics method like phonographix and had Lindamood Bell workshops? If all kids do these things then isn't it possible that all kids would benefit from some help with phoneme sequencing etc at this age level? Also in other european countries children up to middle school will have the same teacher so she comes to know the child and how he learns and also the parents. It's very expensive, but few children have to be put in spec. ed. Certainly not even close to here.

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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 1:54:27 PM

The question here is what can we do? How do we change a system that is so set in its ways?

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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 2:35:03 PM
Subject:if only

My son as a younger child was always so bright, articulate and old seeming for his age. I read to him before naps and bedtime every day from the time he was a couple of months old. He had a warm and fuzzy kindergarten experience with no problems noted other than a word list sent home two weeks before school let out that stated '__ needs to learn these words'. Imagine my suprise when he got so slammed in 1st grade, F's in just about everything, expected to know 30 words a week when he didn't know that 'w' made the 'whu' sound not the 'duh' sound.
If only teachers everywhere were taught the things you all are talking about, sure, maybe my son would have learned to read sooner and not had to play catch up in 4th and 5th grades. We wouldn't have had to deal with child study teams& ieps I don't think and life would have been so much simpler. I wish so many times that all I had to do was send him to school and not have to worry about every little thing.
I do believe the system needs to change but with the high stakes testing starting in 3rd grade these days, I think things will only get worse not better. Parents will have to start getting their kids tutors when they are 3 and 4 so their kids won't get left behind. Never mind that the kids are not mentally or physically ready for it. I have noticed many things my kids have to learn that they are learning at an ever earlier age than when it was introduced to me.

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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 2:47:38 PM

Click on the article in LDonLine called Diagnosis by Reid Lyon(this week it's a highlighted article); it's a great review of LD, it's diagnostic problems and how as a non-stigmatizing label to get services, it's growing by leaps and bounds. In our district, LD means language-based learning disabilities; I don't think NLD is a category, although the students may be served under other categories.

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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 4:04:43 PM

I'd like to see more people support the National Reading Panel study. If parents would be willing to stand up and say we want to get rid of whole language and balanced systems that would be a start. The whole language supporters have already forced the panel to include their "qualitative" research before the panel's research is considered conclusive. Read Whole Language Lives on LD in depth and email Dr. Moats.

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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 7:38:31 PM

That's a different point to raise. That our kids are not doing better doesn't mean they don't have learning disabilities. It means we don't know how to teach them properly. It means the IEP process is a very flawed one.

I'm one who believes all the laws that have been written for these kids are sadly little more than political pandering. I don't think our society ever really cared or cares much now about the needs of children with learning differences but it likes to throw up a good smokescreen as if they do. They mandate that documents be written and signed but many of the stipulations in an IEP can't be met in the course of a school day. They ask the impossible of teachers.

If that was your point, I agree with it. But I don't agree that our failure as a society to properly provide for children with learning differences means that learning differences don't exist.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 11, 2002 8:18:09 PM


TS,

I completely agree with everything you say!! Until my youngest daughter was diagnosed with a "LD" in 2nd grade I used to think students who couldn't learn to read or understand math were dumb. I figured if I could why couldn't they? Right? I'm also a certified teacher, but I decided not to teach (for now) but I am substituting a lot and I see a lot in the classrooms that I totally disagree with - but that's another topic.

After all of the reading and research I have done over the past four years I realize now how "dumb" I was. Everyone is special and unique in their own way. Some kids don't fit into the school system as well as others. Whose fault is that? The school system makes it the kid's fault, but isn't the school system partly to blame? I really don't have all of the answers. However, if I could start my own K-2 school I would have the students work on reading, reading, reading, and math, math, math. So many schools are rushing through every subject so fast (so everything is covered before testing) that a lot of students don't really "get" whatever subject they're having a hard time in. I would really like young students to focus on reading skill and math skills. I really dislike most math textbooks because they keep moving from one topic to another. Repitition is the key, even though it sounds boring. The more you do some type of new skill the easier it becomes and finally you just "know" it. Unfortunately, schools aren't letting a lot of students get to "know" most of their subjects. I'm willing to bet a lot of students are just getting through the next chapter and forgetting it after the test. I better quit before I bore everyone. But I totally agree with what you said!!

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