Special Education in Latin America: Experiences and Issues

By Alfredo J. Artiles; Daniel P. Hallahan | Go to book overview

7
Children with Learning
Disabilities in Mexico: The
Behavioral Approach

EDUARDO BACKHOFF, NORMA LARRAZOLO, AND HUGO ROMANO

Currently, Mexico's population is estimated at 85 million people with an annual growth of 1.9 percent ( Jarque & Uribe, 1992). Considering this rate of growth, there will be more than 15 million children by the end of this century, many of whom will require special means for their education and development.

In Mexico, it is estimated that 10 percent of the total population have some degree of disability ( Mexico, 1981). These figures are congruent with a 1979 estimate by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimate of the world's disability prevalence, and they demonstrate the importance and relevance of special education in our society.

Learning problems are a common impairment among children. In conventional language, the concept of learning problems can have different meanings: a child who neglects his or her studies, a slow learner, or one who has difficulty in a specific subject (e.g., mathematics). To a specialist, the term learning disabilities generally denotes a person with average intelligence but with a significantly low school performance. These individuals have been categorized in the past as, for example, retarded, minimally brain injured, dyslexic, or with Strauss Syndrome.

It is estimated that learning disabilities affect 2 to 4 percent of the Mexican population ( Mexico, 1981). This represents almost 40 percent of the children who require special education. It is calculated that 1.7 to 3.4 million children need this type of specialized services. However, the official number of children with learning disabilities who received special education during the 1991-1992 school year is only 137,514 ( Mexico,

-139-

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