Difficulties - Welfare Guardian

Report
Welfare Guardian
Welcome
Thanks for joining us today!
Georgie Troon
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Welfare Guardian
How to Quickly Identify And Help
Students With Learning Difficulties
- Georgie Troon-
Introduction
 This session aims to provide teachers, school
counsellors and wellbeing officers with an
overview of the most common Learning
Disorders, as well as how to recognise and
manage them
 We will discuss the difference between a Learning
“Difficulty” and a Learning “Disorder”
Introduction
 Practical recommendations are provided that take
into account all the constraints that many schools
face as they struggle to assist children with
learning difficulties
 Discussion will also focus on emotional difficulties
(such as self-esteem and anxiety) that are often
associated with learning issues.
Recommendations will be provided as to how to
support students in building confidence & realistic
goals
Objectives
• Learn about common Learning Disorders and
recognise the signs and symptoms
• Understand the difference between a Learning
Difficulty and a Learning Disorder
• Understand the importance of Early Intervention
• Find out what assessment entails and how/when
to refer
Objectives
• Help your school implement classroom
interventions
• Understand how self-esteem and anxiety issues
relate to learning issues
• Get ideas to help children with learning problems
build confidence , resilience and motivation
Common Learning Problems
 Intellectual Disability
 Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) in the domain
of…
Reading (Dyslexia)
Writing (Dysgraphia)
Maths (Dyscalculia)
 Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
 Expressive & Receptive Language Disorders
(Dysphasia)
Common Learning Problems
Intellectual Disability
IQ below 70
Low performance across all academic areas
Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs)
IQ can be Average or Higher
Specific deficit in certain academic areas (but can be
more than one)
Performance must be substantially below those for
the individual’s age
Common Learning Problems
SLD in Reading (Dyslexia)
 Difficulty reading single words (decoding)
 Phonological difficulties – hearing, blending and
manipulating the sounds in words
 Poor “sight” vocabulary
 Can have poor auditory working memory
 Can have visual tracking/scanning/discrimination
or other visual perception issues
Common Learning Problems
SLD in Writing (Dysgraphia)
 Poor spelling
 Handwriting that is often messy or illegible
 Cramping in hands or poor pencil grip
 Difficulty with technical aspects of writing
(punctuation, capitals, grammar)
 Inconsistencies in letter formation
(uppercase/lowercase), and spacing between words
 Large gap between oral expression and ability to
express oneself in written format
Common Learning Problems
SLD in Maths (Dyscalculia)
 Poor quantitative thinking
 Difficulty memorising arithmetic facts
 Poor accuracy in calculation
 Reduced speed in calculations
 Difficulty understanding time and space
 May count on fingers
 May switch procedures when completing maths
problems
Common Learning Problems
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
 Auditory processing is the ability to “hold,
sequence and process” auditory information - the
system that transfers and decodes what we hear
into what we understand.
 Difficulty noticing subtle differences between
sounds, especially in background noise
 Misinterpret questions
 Trouble following multiple instructions
 Need things repeated
Common Learning Problems
Language Disorder (Dysphasia)
 Receptive
 Expressive
 Reduced vocabulary, word-finding difficulties
 Limited sentence structure (grammar)
 Impairments evident in conversation
 Poor understanding of synonyms, multiple
meanings
Learning Disorders
 An impairment of skill acquisition in a core
academic domain that is not better explained by
another factor (e.g. environmental, health)
 Neurodevelopmental dysfunction
 Most likely has a strong genetic component
 Affects an individual’s achievement and daily life
skills
Other Issues Related to
Learning Problems
 Working Memory Issues
 Low Processing Speed
 Visual Perception Problems (see handout: Visual
Perception Issues)
 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Signs of Learning Problems
 See handout: 70 Common Characteristics of a
Learning Difficulty or Disorder
 Usually identified in early primary school
NOTE: Children can be good at covering up learning
difficulties
 Common issues: underachievement (but may seem
bright), behavioural problems, additional support
may have been unsuccessful
Signs of Learning Problems
Most children experience one or more of the
following:
 Short-term memory problems
 Difficulty retaining information
 Reversing or misreading numbers/letters/words
 Difficulties with self-management, organisational
difficulties, short attention-span
Signs of Learning Problems
 Communication problems (oral or written
language)
 Difficulty copying from the board
 Mishearing things, difficulty following instructions
 Trouble identifying and discriminating sounds
 Difficulty with letter formation and neatness
 Slow to complete work
 Problems with motor skills – clumsy,
uncoordinated
Signs of Learning Problems

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Acting as the “class clown”
Avoiding schoolwork
Guessing
Disruptive behaviour
Anxiety
Receiving help from others
Learning Difficulties versus
Learning Disorders
 Approx 10 – 16% of students have learning
difficulties or require additional support. Approx 2
– 4% of children have a “learning disorder”
(Louden et al., 2000)
 IMPORTANT: A learning disorder is only
diagnosed when other factors for poor learning can
be ruled out
Understanding Learning Issues
Reasons for Learning Difficulties can include:
 Emotional difficulties and/or trauma
 Limited environmental experiences (home life)
 Lack of appropriate educational opportunities
(school life) or interrupted schooling
 Health issues
Early Intervention
 Teachers/school staff are often the first to notice a
problem but can put it down to
motivational/behavioural problem
 Classroom assessments make it difficult to pinpoint
the exact problem – many tasks require a variety of
different skills
 Different teachers teach/assess differently
Early Intervention
 If undiagnosed, children with learning difficulties
or disorders can suffer from:
 Social problems (low self-esteem, bullying, isolation)
 Behavioural problems (acting out, aggression,
avoidance, withdrawal)
 Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, school
refusal)
 Under-achievement – may be difficult to catch up
Assessing Learning Difficulties
 Referral is often from school staff or parents
 GP referral is not required (usually claimable on
private health insurance)
 Referral reason can be vague or specific
 Educational assessment – conducted by a
Psychologist (preferably Educational &
Developmental background)
 Other professionals – Speech Pathologists,
Audiologists, Behavioural Optometrists,
Paediatricians
Assessments
 A fully-trained Psychologist to conduct
 Checklists for parents and teachers
 Child assessment – usually 3 hours+ (over several
sessions)
 Both cognitive and academic assessments are
necessary!
 Can also include screening tests for phonemic
awareness, auditory processing, attentional
difficulties etc.
Assessments
 Cognitive assessment (e.g. WPPSI, WISC or WAIS)
 Areas assessed:
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Verbal Comprehension
Perceptual Reasoning
Working Memory
Processing Speed
Full Scale IQ
Assessments
Assessments
 Academic assessment (e.g.WIAT)
 Areas assessed:



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Reading
Mathematics
Written Language
Oral Language
 Discrepancy analysis to compare with cognitive
results – VERY IMPORTANT
An Example
Daryl is in Grade 2. His teacher says
he is having difficulty across all
academic areas.
Daryl is very sociable and talkative
and comes across as being bright.
His parents decide to have him do an
educational assessment.
An Example
WISC-IV Results
Scale
Composite Score
Percentile Rank
112
65
91
80
85
79
1
27
9
16
Score
76
Percentile Rank
5
82
12
Low Average
91
27
Average
88
21
Low Average
Verbal Comprehension (VCI)
Perceptual Reasoning (PRI)
Working Memory (WMI)
Processing Speed (PSI)
Full Scale (FSIQ)
Confidence
Interval (95%)
103-119
60-76
84-100
73-93
80-92
WIAT-II Results
Academic Area
Reading
Mathematics
Written Language
Oral Language
Category
Borderline (very low)
Qualitative
Description
High Average
Extremely Low
Average
Low Average
Low Average
An Example
Subtests
Standard
Score
Percentile
Rank
Test Age
Equiv.
Word Reading
79
8
6:4
Reading Comprehension
75
5
6:0
Pseudoword Decoding
75
5
<6:0
Numerical Operations
82
12
6:8
Maths Reasoning
83
13
6:8
Spelling
86
18
6:8
Written Expression
98
45
7:0
Listening Comprehension
83
13
6:0
Oral Expression
98
45
7:8
An Example
1 – Word reading
2 – Reading Comprehension
3 – Pseudo Word Decoding
4 – Numerical operation
5 – Maths reasoning
6 – Spelling
7 – Written Expression
A – Reading Composite
B - Mathematics Composite
C – Written Language Composite
An Example
 Based on Daryl’s cognitive ability, how would we
expect him to be performing?
 Discrepancy analysis shows that…
 Based on Full Scale IQ, Daryl is performing AT the
expected level for all academic subtests
 BUT, based on Verbal Comprehension, he is
performing BELOW the expected level for all
academic subtests.
An Example
Also relevant…
 What kinds of mistakes was Daryl making?
 When reading, Daryl often added or omitted syllables
 When spelling, he often reversed the order of letters
or used the incorrect homophone
 How did Daryl approach tasks?
 Daryl showed good motivation and persistence
An Example
Summary/Diagnosis:
 Daryl has difficulty processing
visual information, which may
explain his difficulties performing
across all academic areas.
 He has strengths in his verbal
reasoning.
 Recommendations are provided to
help support Daryl’s learning
Practical Classroom
Interventions
 Individual Learning Plan – what will be done IN
the classroom and OUTSIDE of the classroom
 Regular communication with parents is essential
 Consistent follow-up is necessary
 Goal Setting (see handout: Goal-Setting for
Children with Learning Difficulties)
Practical Classroom
Interventions
 Common strategies (important for all children!)
 Classroom/environmental strategies
 Presentation of material (see handout: Tips for Giving
Directions)
 Assessment formats
 Use of technology – audiobooks, reading/writing
programs (see handout: Assistive Technology for
Students)
 Other support – tutors, external programs
Practical Classroom
Interventions
Problems that may arise in your school:
 Lack of knowledge about appropriate interventions
 Time/financial constraints to implement
interventions
 Staff’s reluctance to acknowledge the existence of
certain learning problems
 Attempts to manage the problems in isolation
Be realistic about what you can offer and
communicate this to parents!
Learning Difficulties and
Anxiety
 Anxiety in children with Learning Difficulties may
manifest itself as:
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School refusal/reluctance
Avoidance behaviours in the classroom
Difficulty persisting with tasks
Somatic complaints
Low self-confidence
Disruptive behaviours
Learning Difficulties and
Anxiety
 Important to manage this anxiety in conjunction
with tackling actual learning
 Provide psychoeducation (see handout: Coping
with Anxiety)
 Set behavioural goals – e.g ask for help when
needed, get started on tasks quickly. Selfmonitoring is useful (see template: Behaviour
Rating Scale (classroom))
 Encourage participation in activities in which the
child excels
Learning Difficulties and
Anxiety
 Provide realistic and sincere praise (NB “Inflated”
praise has been shown to decrease motivation in
some children with low self-esteem)
 Building confidence can often be achieved by
gradually achieving small, realistic goals. Ensure
learning goals are specific and achievable
 For younger children, relaxation strategies are
recommended
 For older children, CBT strategies may be useful
Learning Difficulties and
Anxiety
 Explain the learning difficulty to the child –
YouTube videos may be useful
 Ensure you focus on strengths
 Encourage them to be proactive
 Normalise the problem, discuss how common it is
 How to manage different people involved (e.g.
student, friends, parents, teachers and staff)
Long-Term Management
 Reassessment should occur at least every 2 – 3
years
 Reassessment is especially important prior to
commencing secondary school and commencing
VCE, VCAL etc.
 Appropriate handover from teachers year-to-year
Summary
 Common Learning Problems include: Intellectual
Disability, Specific Learning Disorders (Dyslexia,
Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia), Language Disorders
and Auditory Processing Disorders
 There are many other factors that may affect
learning – emotional problems, educational
opportunities, health concerns
 If you suspect a child has a learning problem, it is
important to refer them for assessment
Summary
 Early intervention is very important to ensure that
strategies are appropriately implemented & longterm problems (social, behavioural, emotional) do
not become ingrained.
 Assessments should involve both cognitive and
academic tests (and a discrepancy analysis!).
 Think about what your school can offer and be
realistic when devising an ILP and communicating
with parents
Summary
 Talk to other school staff about the signs of
learning difficulties and the team involved in
providing treatment
 In order for the child to experience success with
overcoming learning problems, it is important that
they develop their own goals and manage anxieties
that may be holding them back
 Counselling is often just as important as
implementing learning strategies.
Resources
 Helpful books: “That’s the way I think”, “My name
is Brain (Brian)”, “What to do When you Worry
Too Much”
 Agencies: “Kids Like Us”
http://www.kidslikeus.org.au/
 Useful websites: The Australian Learning Disability
Association www.adcert.edu.au/oao, Learning
Difficulties Australia www.ldaaustralia.org
Take Action in your School
 What do you need to do right now with this new
information in your school?
 What is your role when it comes to children with
learning difficulties/disorders? Are you their
advocate? Liaison with parents? Helping them
understand their diagnosis?
 School Psychology services will soon be offering an
Assessment Report Review and Recommendation
service
Personal Reflection
 Think about:
 Key ideas you learned today
 How you can integrate this new information into
what you already know
 Reflect in your journal...
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What do I think?
How do I feel?
What else do I need to do?
What do I need to explore further?
Question Time

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