Sunday, December 13, 2009

Online Module in lieu of class on December 9

Understanding Children’s Hearts and Minds….

1.) The social and mental implications for children with learning disabilities are that these students tend to have higher levels of emotional concerns (depression, loneliness, and low self-esteem) than do their peers without disabilities. Students with disabilities have poor self and academic concepts related to their school functioning, and feel less integrated and even victimized at times. These students also experience higher levels of anxiety and emotional adjustment disorders.

2.) Looking back at my early grade school experience I am remembering how scary it was to be called on to read out loud from a text book or assignment - and I was a good and confident reader! So to think of a student with a learning disability related to speech and language or a disability such as dyslexia, I can only imagine how much more stressful and terrifying a simple academic task like reading aloud would be.

3.) I will certainly try to be as informed and aware of the different forms of learning disabilities (and their emotional counterparts) as I possibly can, and in doing that, I hope to be better able to identify disabilities and their effects on children. I will also try to remain patient and positive in my educational assistance to children with disabilities.

Research on Reading and the Brain…

1.) The evolution of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) for scanning the brain while a person is actively reading has increased the understanding of typical reading development and what happens in the brain when a person encounters reading difficulties. Scientists have been able to identify specific parts of the brain linked to reading. Reading is more demanding of parts on the left side of the brain and seems to suppress activity in parts of the right side of the brain. For children who are at risk or have a reading disability, there is decreased activity on the left side of the brain and increased activation of the right side.

2.) Implications for this new outlook include:
-A greater understanding of the brain regions and functions involved in typical reading development and in reading failure.
-Better tests for earlier identification of children with potential reading problems.
-More specifically targeted interventions that will better help children and adults overcome reading failure.
-Increased information about the different factors—including genetic and environmental—that contribute to reading difficulties.

Disproportionate Representation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Special Education: Measuring the Problem

Some of the issues surrounding the disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education include the overrepresentation of some ethnic groups and English language learners (ELL) in programs for students with mild mental retardation (MMR) or programs for students that are seriously emotionally disturbed (SED), the administration of English language IQ tests to students who are ELL, federal policy regulating the disproportionate representation and developing ways such as the Composition Index or Relative Risk Ratios to assess disproportionate representation in special education.

Legislation has attempted to ameliorate disproportionate representation through the Department of Education, focusing attention on policy, procedures and practices that may result in unequal, or unfair treatment of students from different racial and ethnic groups and by defining the problem as possible discrimination. States and districts are encouraged to address fundamental inequities that further imperil the educational prospects of students with different racial, cultural or linguistic background.

The problem as I see it is that The Individual with Disabilities Education Act, which states that children are not to be identified as disabled as a result of poor achievement due to environmental “disadvantage” or ethnic, linguistic, or racial difference, is being ignored as children who are ELL, or have different ethnic backgrounds are lumped into special educational programs for which they are not well suited because a tailored special education program does not exist to assist them with their educational needs. Perhaps it would make more sense to develop an educational strategy that is focused specifically on the students who are overrepresented in the wrong programs? Separate from the MMR and SED programs where most of these students do not belong?


  1. I agree with what you said about developing a group with the misrepresented children. I think that with this group, we would need to have educators fluent in the child's first language, along with testing done in these languages. It would give us more accurate data and let us see if the child understands what is being tested in their native language before they can be diagnosed with any disability.

  2. I agree with you on the problem with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act stating who can't be identified as disabled. I work in a rather rural, "ecomonic disadvantaged" area and fortunately I can't say that we necessarily avoid identifying those students as disabled. If we did, we would probably not be able to identify half of the children who are identified. The outlook with fMRIs is wonderful and we are fortunate that advances like this continue to be made. It's encouraging to know that we have things like this so that we have the opportunity to learn how to better diagnose and provide intervention to our children with disabilities!