We are continuing to appeal to our readers and visitors to donate to our work of running two centres. The annual budget is RM120,000 (USD38,000) for 2014 and 2015 and will grow higher as we recruit more staff and take in additional trainees.

Please make payment to 'Persatuan Berdikari Seremban Negeri Sembilan' with your name and address on a cover slip so we can mail you our official receipt. All donations from April 1 2011 will be exempted from taxation by the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia. Please send the payment to:

The Treasurer, Persatuan Berdikari Seremban Negeri Sembilan, 381, Jalan Kenanga 1, Taman Bukit Chedang, 70300 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.

Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What is Learning Disability, Again?

It is worthwhile to re-visit this subject since we are in the business (or service if you like) of managing (or helping if you like) people with learning disabilities (or slow learners if you like). I like this particular writeup from the Learning Disabilities Association of California (click HERE for more information) and have reproduced it below for your convenience.

Introduction to Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities (LD) are hidden disabilities that affect many individuals who usually have average or above average intelligence, but are unable to achieve at their potential. People from all economic and social levels may have unique learning differences. Estimates of the percentage of the school-age population who have specific learning disabilities as defined by the Education of the Handicapped Act of 1975 range from 5% to 20%. U.S.C. 1412: Section 1401 (a) (15) states: Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, of mental retardation, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage." Individuals with learning disabilities can learn, but they learn differently. They need to be taught in a way that makes it possible for them to use their abilities to compensate for their weaknesses.

Each individual with learning disabilities has a different combination and severity of problems. Specific learning disabilities are disorders in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, or affecting the ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do math.

For many, undetected learning disabilities create a lifelong pattern of frustration and failure. Unable to learn to read or write adequately or to handle simple numerical calculations, they are forced into a lifetime of underemployment or unemployment.

One of the serious consequences of learning disabilities is that young people who suffer from them do poorly in school unless they are helped. They tend to drop out of school and may fall into a range of antisocial behaviors. Independent studies show that adolescents with learning disabilities are more than twice as likely to wind up in juvenile courts as are their peers who do not have them. Research shows that about 40% of all juvenile offenders have learning disabilities and that most have never received any help for their disabilities.

Other possible outcomes for individuals with learning disabilities who have not received appropriate intervention or help are low self image, teenage pregnancy, suicide, family instability, substance abuse, depression, significant psychiatric problems, and unemployment. They may end up on welfare, homeless, or in prison.

There is no known "cure" for learning disabilities . . . not in the sense of eliminating the disorder. Children with learning disabilities become adults with learning disabilities. With the proper testing and evaluations, every child's learning disabilities can be diagnosed and an individual education plan devised so she/he can learn. Individuals with learning disabilities can be taught to compensate and overcome their learning problems. They can lead happy, productive lives. Some have been, or are, famous people:

Hans Christian Andersen
Sir Winston Churchill
Thomas Edison
Albert Einstein
Whoopi Goldberg
Nelson Rockefeller
Charles Schwab
Robin Williams

Authorities agree that many individuals with learning disabilities are at risk of failure in school and in life unless their learning disabilities are diagnosed early and remediated correctly. Parents and professionals working together can help individuals with learning disabilities lessen many of life's frustrations and failures.

Symptons of Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are often referred to as "hidden handicaps" as they are difficult to identify. The kinds and severity of problems vary from individual to individual. Each individual with a learning disability shows a unique combination of problems. Individuals with learning disabilities may do well in some areas, but very poorly in others. They may learn what is seen, but not what is heard; they may remember by writing, but not by reciting orally; or vice versa. Below are listed some signs that may indicate learning disabilities:

1. inconsistent school performance
2. difficulty remembering today what was learned yesterday, but may know it tomorrow
3. short attention span (restless, easily distracted)
4. letter and number reversals (sees "b" for "d" or "p", "6" for "9", "pots" for "stop" or "post")
5. poor reading (below age and grade level)
6. frequent confusion about directions and time (right-left, up-down, yesterday-tomorrow)
7. personal disorganization (difficulty in following simple directions/schedules; has trouble organizing, planning, and making best use of time; frequent loss or misplacement of homework, schoolbooks, or other items)
8. impulsive and/or inappropriate behavior (poor judgment in social situations, talks and acts before thinking)
9. failure on written tests but high scores on oral exams (or vice versa)
10. speech problems (immature language development, trouble expressing ideas, poor word recall)
11. difficulty understanding and following instructions unless they are broken down to one or two tasks at a time
12. seems immature and has difficulty making friends
13. trouble remembering what someone just told him or her
14. poor coordination (in gross motor activities such as walking or sports and/or in fine motor activities such as tying a shoelace, holding a pencil, or handwriting - inconsistent, slow, messy, or illegible)
15. difficulty interpreting body language, facial expression, or tone of voice
16. difficulty with development of sound/symbol correspondence

Some of these problems can be found in all children at certain stages of development. When a child has a cluster of symptoms which do not disappear as she/he gets older, you might suspect learning disabilities.

What Individuals with LD Need
Individuals with learning disabilities need:
1. to be identified as early as possible;
2. to have a comprehensive assessment;
3. to have an education individualized to their needs;
4. to have qualified and knowledgeable educators who teach to the unique needs of students with learning disabilities;
5. to have modified curriculum and accommodations;
6. to pursue activities in areas where they have strengths or interests;
7. to advocate for themselves at any age;
8. to have vocational education and career training;
9. to develop abilities and skills for the transition to independent living; and
10. to have an employer who will provide appropriate accommodations.

What Parents and Individuals with LD Need to be Informed
Parents and individuals with learning disabilities need to be informed:
1. to meet the challenges of living with learning disabilities;
2. to be knowledgeable about their children's or their own disabilities;
3. to know the rights for individuals with learning disabilities provided by law;
4. to advocate effectively for their children's needs or their own needs;
5. to be acquainted with professionals in the field of learning disabilities;
6. to become knowledgeable about different learning styles and work with school personnel to develop and enhance individual education plans for their children or themselves;
7. to have their children and/or themselves included in decisions which will affect their lives; and
8. to learn to accept and value their children's or their own uniqueness.

Are you passionate about helping the learning disabled? We may have an opening or role for you to play. Come and talk with us.

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