Identifying and Supporting Children with Specific Learning Difficulties: Looking beyond the Label to Assess the Whole Child

Identifying and Supporting Children with Specific Learning Difficulties: Looking beyond the Label to Assess the Whole Child

Identifying and Supporting Children with Specific Learning Difficulties: Looking beyond the Label to Assess the Whole Child

Identifying and Supporting Children with Specific Learning Difficulties: Looking beyond the Label to Assess the Whole Child

Synopsis

By highlighting the myriad of over-laps between learning difficulties, as well as questioning many assumptions about certain conditions, the authors take a uniquely holistic angle on inclusive education.

Excerpt

An overview

In the opening years of the twenty-first century, there has been an astounding 80 per cent increase in the number of children who are being identified as having a specific difficulty which hinders their learning (Keen 2001). This means that there will be children with these difficulties in every class. Members of staff therefore have to understand both the distinctive aspects of and the considerable overlap between each specific learning difficulty. While there are many such difficulties, the ones considered in this book are dyslexia, dyspraxia, the attention deficit disorders (ADD), or with the added hyperactivity (ADHD), Asperger's syndrome, specific language impairment (SLI) and the Scandinavian-named DAMP (deficit in attention, motor control and perception). 'Specific learning difficulties' is an umbrella term which indicates that children display discrepancies across their learning, exhibiting areas of high competence alongside areas of significant difficulty.

Whether in reality there are more children than ever before or whether parents and other professionals are more aware of the symptoms which indicate that problems may be looming and are more anxious to push for diagnosis and help is a moot point; but 'more children' there certainly are, to the extent that physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists say they cannot cope with the increased demand on their services. Certainly in schools, teachers find that the number of possible referrals is very limited and waiting times to see specialists are unacceptably long. To offset this and to try to ensure that all children are enabled to fulfil their potential and make the most of their time in school, teachers are being urged to make a comprehensive assessment of children's difficulties. This includes evaluating the strategies they put in place to help them, e.g. reflecting critically on any learning materials which have been adapted to meet the children's needs.

Many caring professionals would claim that they are doing much of this already, for they are constantly on the look out for difficulties as a natural part of their teaching and supporting the children. When these appear, they consult the support for learning staff or SENCOs (special educational needs coordinators), plan the most appropriate learning materials together and then monitor the children's progress. Others, however, claim that this seemingly ideal cooperation just can't

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