Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. It is defined as language-based learning disability. Research shows that 1 in 5 people are dyslexic. It is a myth that people with dyslexia see words backwards, rather, letters such as b-d are reversed due tp deficits interpreting left and right. The best way for children to learn to read is through a multi-sensory approach. The following links include tips, strategies and ways to accommodate a student with dyslexia.
Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) is a chromosomal disorder due to 3 copies of chromosome 21, causing a number of developmental delays, medical and physical disabilities. Learning is one of the areas that is affected by the disorder. Children born with Down syndrome typically have delays in the area of gross and fine motor skills, thinking, short attention span, speech and language difficulties and sequencing. The following links and resources include information on tips and strategies for teaching children with Down syndrome for both parents and teachers.
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month
May is Prader Willi Syndrome Awareness Month
What Exactly is Prader Willi Syndrome?
Prader Will Syndrome is a genetic disorder resulting from an abnormality of chromosome 15 such as a loss of active genes. In most cases (70%) the paternal copy is missing and in some cases (25%), will exhibit two maternal copies of Chromosome 15. The genetic disorder was initially described by John Langdon Down and was named after Drs. Andrea Prader, Heimrich Willi and Alexis Labhart in 1956 and is found in 1 in 20,000 births affecting both sexes. It is also the most common recognized genetic form of obesity.
During childhood, individuals diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome tend to eat constantly leading to obesity and for some, type 2 diabetes will develop. This complex disorder affects appetite,growth, metabolism, cognitive functioning and behavior.
Signs and Symptoms
People with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) tend to never feel full (hyperphagia) which leads to constant eating. Signs in infants include, problems with strength, coordination and balance. Often there are feeding problems at birth, delayed speech and gross motor development. Children may be born with almond-shaped eyes and undeveloped sexual organs. Cognitive disabilities and developmental delays may also be present.
As children began to grow, constant craving for food often leads to behavior challenges including hoarding food, eating frozen food and food left in the garbage causing controlling or manipulative behavior.
Medical concerns may include the following:
- Sleep Apnea
- High pain tolerance
- Severe stomach illness
- Difficulty with vomiting reflex
- Excessive appetite
- Binge eating
- Eye problems
- Leg Swelling
- Consuming unsafe items
- Negative reactions to medications
Most people diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome fall between the moderate and mild levels of an intellectual disability meaning there may be challenges in the area of reasoning, problem-solving, planning, judgment, abstract thinking and learning. A child or student functioning at the moderate level may lag behind their peers in the area of language and pre-academic skills. Adults may function at an elementary school level and will require support in both work and daily living skills. For children and students functioning at the mild level, there may be difficulties in the area of reading, writing, math and money management. as children grow into adults, there may be a need for support in abstract thinking, executive functioning (planning, prioritizing and flexibility) as well as short-term memory and money management. Teaching strategies should focus on the following:
- Aggression management
- Anger management skills
- Anxiety management
- Emotional regulation
- Personal safety
- Social skills
Keep in mind that many children and adults diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome may have additional challenges in learning due to medication. Some people take medication such as a growth hormone therapy which can cause fatigue. The following teaching strategies may also be useful when teaching a student diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome:
- Use a multi-sensory approach. This involves a teaching style that includes auditory, visual, tactile, spatial, and kinesthetic (hands on activities)
- Break learning into small steps. Check for understanding by asking the student to repeat back to you.
- Teach a skill at least 2-3 times a day. This will help the student retain information.
- Managing perseveration. Set up a rule where the student can a question no more than 3 times. After the third answer. Ask the student to repeat the response back to you.
Adult Day Program/Residential Setting
Most people with Prader Willi Syndrome due to their cognitive level, will be provided services in either a day habilitation program or live in a community providing residential services. Once a person becomes an adult, it becomes a little bit more tricky on maintaining issues especially behavioral. For instance, while living at home, a parent has the right to lock the refrigerator which is often suggested by experts. However, this becomes a violations of a person’s rights once they reach adulthood. Typically, committees meet to help make the right decisions along with family members and the adult diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome. Here are some suggestions.
- Allow the person to have control of what is important to them. Have discussions on nutrition and staying healthy. Check to see if this may be an appropriate topic the person may want to improve by adding to their person-centered plan. Hold discussion groups in both day programs as well as in residential to discuss various topics on health and nutrition including holding classes on mindfulness and meditation.
- Trips to shopping malls can be very tricky. Try to avoid mall’s eatery and plan if it is a group trip to have people bring their own lunches.
- When teaching, allow time before giving additional prompts
- Give praise as much as you can when it is appropriate.
- Use visuals as much as you can including graphics and pictures.
Staff training on Prader-Willi Syndrome should include the following topics:
- Overview of Prader-Willi Syndrome including, causes, symptoms, characteristics, nutrition, and self-regulation.
- Impact on the family including the stresses families experience.
- Teaching techniques including problem-solving, forward shaping and role-modeling.
- Individual rights
- Managing behavior and crisis intervention
- Community inclusion trips and activities
Studies suggests that between 4-7% of students have experience difficulty in math compared to 26% of children with ADHD.
This may be the result of the working memory, problem solving skills and inattentive skills all characteristics of a student with ADHD
What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is defined as a learning disability specifically in math and numbers including the inability to understand the concept of numbers and applying math principles to solve problems. The following are signs and symptoms of dyscalculia:
- Difficulty in counting backwards
- Difficulty in recalling facts
- Slow in performing calculations
- Difficulty with subtractions
- Difficulty using finger counting
- Difficulty with the multiplication table
- Poor mental math skills
- Difficulty with understanding the concept of time
- May show signs of anxiety when conducting math activities
- May have a poor sense of direction (i.e. north, south, east, west)
Early signs of dyscalculia include:
- Delays in learning how to count
- Delays in recalling facts
- Difficulty with time
- Displays a poor memory
- May lose track when counting
- Difficulty sorting items by groups include color, shape, texture and size.
Students with diagnosed with ADHD qualify for accommodations in the classroom. Here are a few suggestions:
The ADHD magazine, ADDitude suggests the following accommodations to help students with ADHD and Dyscalculia:
- Allow extra time on test
- Provide frequent checks for accuracy during classroom activities
- List clearly numbered steps/procedures for multi-step problems
- Use individual dry-erase boards
- Reduce the number of problems you assign
VeryWell suggests the following accommodations for students expressing difficulties in math:
- Allow the student to use desk copies of math facts such as multiplication table factsheet
- Allow the use of calculations in the classroom
- Provide models of sample problems and allow the students to use these models as a reference
- Decrease the number of math problems
- Allow the students to use graph paper rather than notebook paper
- Provide the student with review summaries to help prepare for tests
Resource Articles To Read
January is Braille Literacy Month. Invented by Louis Braille, at the age of 15 years old while attending the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. Braille lost his sight during a childhood accident at the age of 4. Braille is not a language, rather it is a code that uses symbols formed within units of space that consists of six raised dots , 2 across and 3 down. Below are resources on braille information.
Braille Resources for Special Education Teachers
Path of Literacy Website for students who are blind and visually impaired. Includes teaching strategies on tactile production various braille designs.
Teaching Students with Visual Impairments Provides resources necessary to teach visual impaired students including teaching strategies and professional development opportunities.
The following organizations focus on braille resources and information that serves children and adults with visual impairments including developing teaching materials.
Braille Authority of North America he purpose of BANA is to promote and to facilitate the uses, teaching, and production of braille. Pursuant to this purpose, BANA will promulgate rules, make interpretations, and render opinions pertaining to braille codes and guidelines for the provisions of literary and technical materials and related forms and formats of embossed materials now in existence or to be developed in the future for the use of blind persons in North America.
Braille Institute Is a non-profit organization that offers a broad range of services serving thousands of students of all ages to empower themselves to live more enriching lives with blindness and vision loss.
National Braille Association National Braille Association, founded in 1945, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing continuing education to those who prepare braille, and to providing braille materials to persons who are visually impaired.
The following laws and regulations authorize the provision of library services to people who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability:
Act of March 3, 1931 Authorization of the Library of Congress to provide books for the use of adult blind residents of the United States.
Public Law 89-522 Amends the Acts of March 3, 1981 and October 9, 1962 relating to the furnishing of books and other material to the blind.
U.S. Code Sec. 135a– Authorizes books and sound reproduction records for blind and others with physical disabilities.
Title 36, Code of federal Regulations, 701.10 Provides books in raised characters (braille) on sound reproduction recordings or in any form.
The American Disability Act (ADA) requirements for effective communication in the workplace to provide accommodations for people with visual impairments are able to communicate with people effectively.
- For people who are blind, have vision loss, or are deaf-blind, this includes providing a qualified reader; information in large print, Braille, or electronically for use with a computer screen-reading program; or an audio recording of printed information. A “qualified” reader means someone who is able to read effectively, accurately, and impartially, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
- For people who are deaf, have hearing loss, or are deaf-blind, this includes providing a qualified note taker; a qualified sign language interpreter, oral interpreter, cued-speech interpreter, or tactile interpreter; real-time captioning; written materials; or a printed script of a stock speech (such as given on a museum or historic house tour). A “qualified” interpreter means someone who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively (i.e., understanding what the person with the disability is saying) and expressively (i.e., having the skill needed to convey information back to that person) using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
- For people who have speech disabilities, this may include providing a qualified speech-to-speech transliterator (a person trained to recognize unclear speech and repeat it clearly) , especially if the person will be speaking at length, such as giving testimony in court, or just taking more time to communicate with someone who uses a communication board. In some situations, keeping paper and pencil on hand so the person can write out words that staff cannot understand or simply allowing more time to communicate with someone who uses a communication board or device may provide effective communication. Staff should always listen attentively and not be afraid or embarrassed to ask the person to repeat a word or phrase they do not understand.
In addition, aids and services include a wide variety of technologies including 1) assistive listening systems and devices; 2) open captioning, closed captioning, real-time captioning, and closed caption decoders and devices; 3) telephone handset amplifiers, hearing-aid compatible telephones, text telephones (TTYs) , videophones, captioned telephones, and other voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products; 4) videotext displays; 5) screen reader software, magnification software, and optical readers; 6) video description and secondary auditory programming (SAP) devices that pick up video-described audio feeds for television programs; 7) accessibility features in electronic documents and other electronic and information technology that is accessible (either independently or through assistive technology such as screen readers) .