Thursday, July 28, 2011

Learning Disabilities: A Brief Background

These series of posts is for my Masters class on Strategies for Teaching Mathematics to Elementary students. Although I am generally interested with the umbrella condition of Learning Disabilities, for this post I would be focusing more on Dyscalculia because it is the learning disability that focuses on difficulties in Math.

I. Brief Background on Learning Disabilities

According to, "Learning disabilities are neurological differences in processing information that severely limit a person's ability to learn in a specific skill area. Everyone has differences in learning abilities, but people with learning disabilities have severe problems that persist throughout their lives. Learning disabled people may have difficulty in school or on the job. These disabilities may also impact independent living and social relationships.

Different Types of Learning Disabilities

The types of Learning Disabilities listed here are the ones I found from, and Manila Bulletin.

1. Learning Disabilities in Reading, Dyslexia
IDEA defines two main types of learning disabilities in reading.
a. Learning disabilities in basic reading skills involve the foundational skills required to understand the relationship between letters, sounds, and the words they represent.
b. Reading comprehension disabilities involve complex thinking skills such as understanding words, phrases and larger meanings of passages.

2. Dysgraphia and Learning Disabilities in Writing
Learning disabilities in basic writing skills include neurologically-based difficulty with producing written words and letters. Expressive writing disabilities may involve comprehending and organizing written thoughts on paper.

3. Learning Disabilities in Math, Dyscalculia
In the article "Stimulating Math Skills by Massie Santos Ballon she described
dyscalculia as a condition that can affect the ability to calculate, visualize or otherwise use numbers when speaking or writing.

In 2005, Ms. Queenee Lee Chua wrote an article under Philippine Inquirer Education entitled "Why is Math so Difficult?" and she said that experts believe that 5 to 8 percent of US schoolchildren may have dyscalculia. However, there are no Philippine figures for the past decade. At that time, Ms. Chua has handled 20 children whom she suspected to have some form of math learning disability but she insists that this is still a small fraction of children she has diagnosed. Ms. Chua reiterates that most students do not have any disability. They may either have attention-deficit, math-phobia or just plain unmotivated.

According to the British Dyslexia Association, somewhere between 3 to 6% of the population is affected by dyscalculia only.

4. Learning Disabilities in Language, Communication

There are several types of learning disabilities in language. Students with language based learning disabilities may have difficulty with understanding or producing spoken language, or both. Receptive language disorder is a type of learning disability affecting the ability to understand spoken, and sometimes written, language.

Dysphasia is an impairment of language ability. This class of language disorder ranges from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read, or write.

5. Learning Disabilities in Motor Skills, Dyspraxia
Commonly known as the motor learning disability, A person with dyspraxia has problems with movement and coordination. It is also known as "motor learning disability". Somebody with dyspraxia finds it hard to carry out smooth and coordinated movements. Dyspraxia often comes with language problems, and sometimes a degree of difficulty with perception and thought. Dyspraxia does not affect a person's intelligence, but it can cause learning difficulties, especially for children.

6. Behavior Disorders with Learning Disabilities
Children with learning disabilities sometimes have behavioral problems. In some cases, problems with behavior may involve medical conditions such as attention deficit disorders. In other cases, behaviors may result from frustration with learning or learned because of environmental factors at school, home, or both.

Ballon, M.S. (2010) Stimulating Math Skills. Retrieved from

De Mesa, T. (2009) Don’t give up on your child with LD. Retrieved from

Lee-Chua, Q. (2005). Why is Math So Difficult. Retrieved from

Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from

Questions and Answers about Dyscalculia. Retrieved from

What is Dyspraxia. Retrieved from

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