In the last year, the traditional day at school has changed in every way. Because of COVID-19, students are at home or splitting time between virtual learning and on-campus learning, and teachers and assistants are trying to adapt. Naturally, this makes it difficult for students to have a consistent thread to follow educationally. But for students with learning disabilities, there’s always a clear and present challenge in their studies. Some students are faced with additional hurdles in the classroom due to learning disorders, which inhibits their ability to process and retain information. Because numerous mental processes affect a student’s learning abilities, learning disorders can vary widely, and special education classrooms must be equipped to navigate these challenges.
Probably the most well-known learning disability taught in special education classrooms, dyslexia impedes the student’s ability to read and comprehend a text. There are many ways this disorder can manifest itself as some may struggle with phonemic awareness (I.E. failing to recognize the way words break down according to sound) or with phonological processing. Students cannot distinguish between similar words sounds. Other dyslexia issues relate to fluency, spelling, comprehension, and more.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has affected nearly seven million children at some point. In fact, a study released in 2019 examined the twenty-year trends in ADHD diagnoses and showed what researchers claimed was a significant rise in diagnoses. While there is some debate about whether or not ADHD is indeed a disorder, there is no doubt that it impedes a student’s ability to learn.
Students who suffer from ADHD have difficulty paying attention and staying on task. These students can find distractions anywhere and often have difficulty in traditional school settings. Unlike typical learning disorders, which need interventions, students can find treatment for ADHD with medications and behavioral therapies.
Learning disorders are also related to processing deficits. When students have this kind of disorder, they have trouble making sense of sensory data. This makes it hard for students to perform in a traditional classroom setting without the right support in instruction. These learning deficits are most often visual or auditory and can make it hard for students to remember important information that they need to succeed educationally.
Math may not be everyone’s favorite subject, but for those who suffer from dyscalculia, it’s even more of a struggle. This disorder specifically affects one’s mathematical capabilities and ranges from an inability to order numbers correctly to limited strategies for problem-solving. Students with this kind of disorder may have trouble performing basic calculations in mathematics, or they may have difficulty with concepts like measurement, time, or estimation.
While reading disabilities receive a lot of attention in special education programs, writing disabilities can be just as difficult for students. These disorders are known as dysgraphia, which is related to the physical act of writing. These students often cannot hold pens or pencils correctly and have difficulty comprehending how to write. This leads students to tire out easily or get frustrated with their learning. Dysgraphia can also refer to trouble with written expression. With this kind of disorder, students in special education classes find help with organizing their thoughts coherently and avoid redundancy in their writing.
These disorders aren’t the only disabilities that special education classrooms and teachers work with daily. However, they are among the most common. These disorders manifest with varying degrees of severity, and some students may struggle with more than one at a time. By understanding these disorders and shedding light on others, it is possible to find workable solutions so that every student can find the right support and resources to succeed.
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