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SERVICES FOR LEARNING DISABLED STUDENTS

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The Office of Disability Services coordinates services for all Learning Disabled University at Buffalo students who request the service and can document the need.

DEFINITION

Specific learning disabilities is a chronic condition of presumed neurological origin which selectively interferes with the development, integration, and/or demonstration of verbal and nonverbal abilities.

Specific learning disabilities exist as a distinct handicapping condition in the presence of average to superior intelligence, adequate sensory and motor systems, and adequate learning opportunities. The condition varies in its manifestations and degree of severity.

Throughout life the condition can affect self-esteem, education, vocation, socialization and daily living activities.

COMMON LEARNING DISABILITIES TERMS

Dyslexia 	- Severe difficulty with reading printed material.



Dyscalculia 	- Severe difficulty with numbers and/or mathematical  

              	  problems (even simple math).



Dysgraphia 	- Severe handwriting problems, lack of organization and 

              	  neatness  

SOME COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF LD COLLEGE STUDENTS

READING SKILLS

  • Slow reading rate and/or difficulty in modifying reading rate in accordance with material difficulty.
  • Poor comprehension and retention.
  • Difficulty identifying important points and themes.
  • Poor mastery of phonics, confusion of similar words, difficulty integrating new vocabulary.

WRITTEN LANGUAGE SKILLS

  • Difficulty with sentence structure (incomplete or run on sentences, poor use of grammar, missing inflectional endings).
  • Frequent spelling errors (omissions, substitutions, transpositions) especially in specialized and foreign vocabulary.
  • Inability to copy correctly from a book or the blackboard.
  • Slow writer.
  • Poor penmanship (poorly-formed letters, incorrect use of capitalization, trouble with spacing, overly-large handwriting).

ORAL LANGUAGE SKILLS

  • Inability to concentrate on and comprehend oral language.
  • Difficulty orally expressing ideas which seem to be understood.
  • Written expression is better than oral expression.
  • Difficulty speaking grammatically correct English.
  • Cannot tell a story in proper sequence.

MATHEMATICAL SKILLS

  • Incomplete mastery of basic facts (mathematical tables).
  • Reverses numbers (123 to 321 or 231).
  • Confuses operational symbols, especially + and x.
  • Copies problems incorrectly from one line to another.
  • Difficulty recalling the sequence of operational processes.
  • Inability to understand and retain abstract concepts.
  • Difficulty comprehending word problems.
  • Reasoning deficits.

ORGANIZATIONAL AND STUDY SKILLS

  • Time management difficulties.
  • Slow to start and complete tasks.
  • Repeated inability, on a day-to-day basis, to recall what has been taught.
  • Difficulty following oral and written directions.
  • Lack of overall organization in written notes and compositions.
  • Demonstrates short attention span during lectures.
  • Inefficient use of library reference materials.

SOCIAL SKILLS

Some LD adults may have inappropriate social skills due to their inconsistent perceptual abilities. For the same reason that a person with visual perceptual problems may have trouble discriminating between the letters "b" and "d," he/she may be unable to detect the difference between a joking wink and a disgusted glance. People with auditory perceptual problems might not notice the difference between sincere and sarcastic comments, or be able to recognize other subtle changes in tone of voice. These difficulties in interpreting nonverbal messages may result in lowered self-esteem for some LD adults, and may cause them to have trouble meeting people, working cooperatively with others, and making friends.

SUGGESTIONS FOR HELPING ALL STUDENTS TO SUCCEED IN THE CLASSROOM

  • Provide students with a detailed course syllabus. Make it available on the first day of class.
  • Clearly spell out expectations before course begins (grading, material to be covered, due dates).
  • Start each lecture with an outline of materials to be covered that period. At the conclusion of class, briefly summarize key points.
  • Speak directly to students, and use gestures and natural expressions to convey further meaning.
  • Present new or technical vocabulary on the blackboard or use a student handout. Terms should be used in context to convey greater meaning.
  • Give assignments both orally and in written form to avoid confusion.
  • Announce reading assignments well in advance.
  • Allow LD students to tape lectures.
  • Provide study questions for exams that demonstrate the format, as well as the content of the test. Explain what constitutes a good answer and why.
  • If necessary, allow LD students to demonstrate mastery of course material using alternative methods (extended time limits for testing, oral exams, taped exams, individually proctored exams in a separate room).
  • Permit use of simple calculators, scratch paper, spellers' dictionaries during exams.
  • Provide adequate opportunities for questions and answers, including review sessions.
  • If possible, select a textbook with an accompanying study guide for optional student use.
  • Encourage students to use ODS support services.

SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

  • Set realistic goals and priorities for coursework.
  • Keep only one calendar with all relevant dates, assignments, and appointments.
  • Use a tape recorder during lectures. Selectively tape-record key points using the "pause" switch.
  • Listen to the tape as soon after class as possible to refresh your memory, then reorganize your notes.
  • Make notes of any questions you might have so that they can be answered before the next exam.
  • Sit toward the front of the classroom to maximize your eye contact and to reduce distractions.
  • Estimate how long a given class assignment will take, planning on at least two hours outside of class for every hour in class. Build in study breaks, as fatigue is a big time waster.
  • If you are having trouble, seek campus support help early in the semester.

If you require additional information or assistance, call the Office of Disability Services at (716) 645-2608, TDD (716) 645-2616.

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This site is maintained by Jennifer Weir, Disability Services at Texas A&M University -- Corpus Christi