After going through this unit, you must have a basic understanding about the common neurodevelopmental disabilities. After describing the concept and definition of the specific type of neurodevelopmental disability ie Intellectual Disability, Specific Learning Disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder we have briefly discussed the causes and prevalence of ID/SLD/ASD. The identification criteria also have been described. Further we have described the types and the characteristics of all the major types of disabilities which will help you in understanding the strengths and needs of children with specific type of disability. The most key area is promoting inclusive practices for all the three categories of disabilities which will help you in managing the classroom.
Intellectual Disability (ID) is a life – long condition, which is marked by some insult to the brain resulting in low intelligence. Intellectual Disability cannot be cured. Intellectual Disability is not Mental illness. Mental illness can be cured. Persons with Mental Illness have normal milestones of development but suffer from psychological disturbance which needs systematic treatment whereas Intellectual Disability is a condition when child’s mental development does not match with his chronological age. For example – an eight-year-old child with ID may have mental ability and behaviour like that of a child much younger. Depending on the severity ofthe condition, the mental ability may vary ranging from that of a child who is a few months to close to six years.
The following are the causes of ID
1. Genetic conditions 2. Prenatal problems 3. Perinatal problems 4. Postnatal problems (in infancy and childhood) 5. Metabolic disorders 6. Expo sure to certain types of disease or toxins. 7. Iodine deficiency (cretinism) 8. Malnutrition.
Types And Characteristics Of Persons With Intellectual Disability
The main characteristics of children with intellectual disability are as follows: Physical Characteristics
• Microcephaly – abnormally small head
• Hydrocephaly- abnormally large head filled with cerebrospinal fluid
• Down’s syndrome – may have thick fingers, moon shaped eyes, short nose, uncovered mouth.
• Cretinism – dwarf-like, coarse and thick skin, short and stubby extremities, thick eyelids, sleepy appearance
• Physical development s at a slower rate • May manifest acute or chronic health problem Mental /Intellectual/Cognitive Characteristics • Short attention span • Poorjudgment • Poor reasoning and understanding • Slow in learning • Poor listening, thinking skills • Poor at abstraction • Poor memory • Lack of motivation • Lack of creativity • Slow reaction • Absence of clarity • Poor eye – hand coordination Behavioural Characteristics • Maladaptive • Repetitive • Age inappropriate • Limited social skills – immaturity in different social situations • Difficulty in comprehending social situations • Low frustration tolerance • Poor self-concept(self-image) Lack of self confidence • Exhibit restlessness Academic Characteristics • Sub average learning and performance in basic academic skills (such as reading, writing and arithmetic) • Difficulty in activities requiring reading and listening comprehension • Oral communication skills generally exceed written communication skills • Limited in incidental learning acquired through experience Communication Characteristics • Display limited vocabulary • Delayed in speech and language development • Displays articulation disorders • Limited written communication skills • Slow processing of questions often resulting in delayed responses • Poor speech • Problems in understanding multiple instructions • Unusual voice
The trend of educating students with mild/moderate intellectual disability is changing. Traditionally the students with mild/moderate intellectual disability were educated in special schools. Today increasing number of students are included in regular schools with supplemental instruction provided by a resource teacher or a special educator.
Simply placing the students into general education class does not mean that the student will be successful. Systematically planning the student’s inclusion into the classroom through team activity, group projects and directly training all students in specific skill for interaction with one another are some of the methods that help successful inclusion. The self-contained special education classroom is the most common educational placement for students with severe-profound mental retardation, although the trend is changing, and more students are placed in the general education setting for a portion of their school day.
Developing functional curriculum goals for these students is the primary intent for most educators. Curriculum choices include developing goals around the domains that represent the living environment of the student with ID. Including work, play, and involvement in the community. Personal maintenance and development, homemaking, community life, vocation, and leisure and travel are the five domains on which many curricula for students with intellectual disability are based. Related annual goals may be grouped under broad categories called “Teaching goals”
The teaching goals can be grouped as follows;
• Language skills
• Thinking and Reasoning skills
• Motor skills
• Self-awareness skill
• Social awareness skills
• Discovery of maths, science, computer
• Sensory motor
• Creative arts
One effective technique to use with students with severe-profound mental retardation is task analysis. This is a method in which activities are broken down and sequenced as a series of small subtasks. The small, easier subtasks enable the student to learn more easily. The subtasks are sequenced in the natural order in which they are performed. The curriculum stresses function, communication, and self-help skills. If students are provided with practice and repeated opportunities to respond as well as positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, they are more likely to be successful.
Promoting Inclusive Practices
The key to including students with intellectual disabilities in the general education classroom is providing necessary and appropriate supports. These include personal supports (e.g., self-regulation, academic skills), natural supports (e.g., parents, friends), support services (e.g., specialized instruction), and technical supports (e.g.,Diversity and inclusion assistive technology). Afocus on the concept of supported education, as a necessary complement to inclusion, assumes that individuals should be educated in inclusive classroom settings to the maximum degree possible and supported in those settings to ensure successful learning.
There has been a tendency simply to physically place students with ID in the general education classroom. Inclusion should focus on welcoming and involving students with disabilities in the general education classroom. Merely placing students with ID in general education without active classroom participation will be unlikely to result in positive gains for students.
Specific adaptations can enhance learning and increase relevance. Assistive technology can further enhance classroom adaptations. Students with ID can benefit from a variety of technological applications.
Specific Learning Disability(SLD) means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, speak, spell or do mathematical calculations, it is frequently misunderstood because it is a hidden disability. It may be mistaken as intentional non-cooperative behavior of the child.
Definition – “Learning Disability is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning and mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction. Even though a Learning Disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (such as sensory impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbances) or environmental influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction, psychogenic factors), it is not the influence of those conditions or influence.
Diversity and inclusion The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPwD) 2016 has included Learning Disabilities and defines the condition as follows.
‘specific learning disabilities” means a heterogeneous group of conditions wherein there is a deficit in processing language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself as a difficulty to comprehend, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calcidations and includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalcidia, dyspraxia and developmental aphasia ’
New evidence seems to show that most learning disabilities do not stem from a single, specific region of the brain, but from difficulties in bringing together information from various brain regions. Today, a leading theory is that learning disabilities stem from subtle disturbances in brain structures and functions. Some scientists believe, that, in many cases, the disturbance begins before birth. Approximately 4.6% of school aged children are identified as learning disabled. Some of the causes are listed below.
► complicated pregnancies ► toxemia ► prematurity ► low birth weight ► Rh – incompatibilities ► anoxia ► maternal endocrine disorders ► radiation ► maternal age ► consumption of drugs, alcohol and tobacco ► accidents during pregnancy
► head injury ► lead poisoning ► nutritional defects ► deprivation of sensory stimulation
• Genetic factors
• Biochemical factors Hypoglycemia, Hypothyroidism
Types of specific learning Disability:
• Significant problems in reading (dyslexia)
• Significant problems in math (dyscalculia)
• Significant problems in writing (dysgraphia)
Children with Neuro Developmental
Other Types Of Learning Disabilities
|Dyslexia||Reading difficulty||Problem in reading, spelling etc|
|Dyscalculia||Diminished mathematical ability||Problems in doing mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction and so on|
|Dysgraphia||Diminished mathematical||Problem in writing, understanding spelling etc|
|Dyspraxia||Difficulty in coordination between mind and motor skills||Lack of coordination between the child’s motor skills, such holding a pencil and writing something|
|Dysphasia/Aphasia||Language difficulty.||Problems in language comprehension or accent of any particular language|
Intervention of Students with Specific Learning Disability
It is difficult for children with learning disabilities to interpret what they see (visual perception). A child may not be able to judge size, shape, location, movement, and color because for him these properties keep changing. Because of the difficulty, they have problems in sorting out foreground and background; these children often focus on irrelevant details. It is difficult for children to recognize similarities and differences (visual discrimination). Their problems are magnified when they try to learn to recognize numbers and letters, as the differences are slight. The letters that are reversible are especially difficult (b, d), as are the ones with “tails” (p, q, j, g).
Visual tracking is the ability to focus the eyes on one point and then move them rhythmically from side to side, up and down, and diagonally. Some children have jerky eye movements, or move their whole head instead of just their eyes. Part- whole relationships (visual closure) cause problems. Children have trouble identifying missing parts; a picture of a three-legged chair appears normal to them. They also have trouble remembering what they see (if you had four objects on the table, covered them, removed one, and asked them to name the missing object they probably couldn’t). Poor visual memory also makes it difficult to remember sequences. Visual- motor integration or eye-hand coordination is often problematic. The children predictably have a challenging time drawing, pasting, and particularly cutting.
Auditory skills are also challenging Auditory discrimination is the ability to tell the difference between sounds. Children with learning disabilities have difficulty recognizing differences in sounds or words; hence they often misinterpret meanings (rat, rap). They also have problems identifying the rhyming elements of words. They find classifying words next to impossible (for example, finding all the words that start with a). Hierarchical classifications are generally beyond their capability. As you might guess, these are children who do not enjoy sound and word games and who often cannot express thoughts and ideas clearly.
Auditory memory is the ability to remember what has been heard. Sometimes children forget the beginning by the time you get to the end of a long sentence. The second request in two-step directions may not be remembered. They may also have trouble locating the source of a sound (if you call their name they may search around the room and not find where you are).
Accommodations are made in the classroom to “level the playing field” and provide equal and ready access to the task at home. Some sample accommodations that can be provided to assist children with learning disabilities in the regular classroom can be sorted into the following six categories.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in 68 varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disability that affects a child’s ability to communicate, understand language, play and interact with others. It is a life-long pervasive developmental disorder that affects normal development of the brain in areas that impact communication and social interaction combined with restricted patterns of behaviours. Impairments in these areas range from mild to profound. A high-functioning individual with autism can have a high IQ, can be verbal and may socially interact with others while a low-functioning individual with autism may have mental retardation, be completely non-verbal and may not interact with others. This extensive range represents many autism conditions that are known as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
There is no single intervention protocol for all children with autism; however, most individuals respond best to highly structured behavioral programs. Brief statements of the most commonly used behavior programs include the following aspects.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) – The use of positive reinforcement and other principles of applied behaviour analysis are used to build communication, play, social, academic, self-care, work, and community living skills and to reduce problem behaviors in learners with autism of all ages. The final goal ofABAintervention is to enable the child to function independently and successfully in a variety of settings.
Verbal Behaviour Intervention – The verbal behaviour approach focuses on teaching specific components of expressing language (mands, tact, intraverbals, and others). This approach begins with mands training, which teaches a child to request desired items, activities, and information-teaching the child that “words” are valuable and lead them to getting their wants and needs met.