More Schools, Colleges Support Learning Disabilities

As early as the latest school semester, schools and colleges have started to support students with language-based learning disabilities.


Language-based learning disabilities refers to the various issues with ‘age-appropriate reading, writing and/or spelling.’ This learning disability doesn’t impair and/or change a person’s intelligence, as people with various degrees of intelligence do exhibit symptoms from the condition.


The signs and symptoms from language-based learning disabilities stem from difficulties with spoken and written language. Therefore, children and/or adults with language-based learning disabilities may exhibit symptoms similar to that of dyslexia and dysgraphia, in addition to difficulties with verbal-based communication.


Today’s colleges and schools are finding solutions to help support prospective and current students with these learning difficulties, providing them a chance to succeed in primary, secondary and higher education.


A higher solution


Students with learning disabilities, like the aforementioned, now have several support options in college and other higher education institutions.


As an example, colleges across the country have implemented special programs that support students with learning disabilities. Many of these college-level programs provide additional assistance through peer-to-peer tutoring, plentiful learning resources and direct support from educators.


Traditional universities and colleges, in fact, have opened supplemental programs for students with learning disabilities throughout the past two years, as recently as the current fall school semester. At least 350 programs now exist across the United States for students with learning disabilities.


The K&W Guide to College Programs for Students With Learning Disabilities or AD/HD currently publishes 362 comprehensive programs, as of this year.


Disability offices at various colleges and universities are also improving their services. Their non-profit services are now appearing at more campuses around the country, generally in the form of unaffiliated care centers.


Dedicated institutions who near-exclusively serve students with learning disabilities are also growing. Many, in fact, are introducing dedicated four-year degree programs for students.


Brent Betit, the co-founder of Landmark College in Vermont, commented in a recent interview that, ‘This is the best time [ever] for students who learn differently to go to college.’ Betit helped establish the Landmark College, a learning institution with a focus on aiding students with various learning disabilities.


Since then, Landmark College is one of many learning institutions with a focus on helping students with learning disabilities learn better.


Betit also mentioned that, ‘there are now better programs available than any time in the past.’ He attributed the growth of learning disability programs in higher education to the ‘entrepreneurial nature of the country,’ which allowed businesses to grow to accommodate the needs of learning-disabled students out there.


Several of these programs are hosted at the University of Arizona, Florida’s Lynn University and Beacon College, which also provides a comprehensive program for students with disabilities.


The costs of higher education


Although many higher learning institutions are now accommodating students with various language-based learning disabilities, parents and self-sufficient students face financial problems regarding the aforementioned programs.


Many programs for learning disabilities are non-profit and available at many higher learning institutions. Despite that, students and parents have to cover the costs that accumulate from a standard two-year or four-year degree.


For-profit providers, too, are causing financial issues for learning disabled students. There are a growing number of for-profit providers who charge more than $40,000 for their services. The growth of such services worry parents, students and educators who want to bring non-profit programs to learning-disabled students.


Students with learning disabilities, in fact, are generally a minority population at most four-year learning institutions. According to recent data from the National Center for Special Education Research, 19 percent of students with disabilities choose to enroll in a four-year college and/or university.


Due to this, there aren’t many specialized on-campus programs for students with language-based learning disabilities. These students usually don’t have the legal support to automatically gain learning assistance in college and/or other higher education institutions.


Although students have to face those difficulties, colleges and other learning institutions are now providing help to accommodate students with financial aid and other support for their studies.


The benefits of higher learning


In recent times, accommodating and treating students with learning disabilities has become easier for college-level educators.


Many schools like Dean College, near Boston, Massachusetts, have students arrive with undiagnosed or previously diagnosed learning disorders. To accommodate their student body, these learning institutions adapt.


Although these institution primarily offer regular college-level coursework, their supplemental academic coaching programs help learning disabled students keep up with their coursework. Many of these classes and programs are tailored to address a student’s learning challenges, which in turn, helps them overcome these challenges while enrolled.


Programs like these encourage students to work directly with professors to address their learning challenges. Modern technology also plays a role with higher education learning for learning-disabled students, as more devices make their way into the classroom.


In closing, support for students with language-based and other learning disabilities are now more prevalent in higher learning institutions. As technology advances, educators and students will find newer ways to successfully help them conquer learning challenges.

Modern Technology’s Role In Helping People With Dyslexia

According to recent studies, modern technology may play a role in helping children and teenagers with dyslexia.


A study published earlier this year in Plos One depicted researchers testing a technique called ‘Span Limited Tactile Reinforcement.’ For this study, they tested a group of 103 high school students with dyslexia.


High school students, elementary school students and college-level students all struggle with dyslexia across the country. Dyslexia is a learning disability that causes both children and adults to process and interpret information in a different way apart from peers without the neurological condition.


Dyslexia is known to impair a person’s reading, spelling, writing, and sometimes, speaking skills. In school-related contexts, dyslexia can cause students to fall behind in classes and/or their grade-level, particularly if they don’t have specialized classes to accelerate and improve their studies.


A growing role


The Plos One study was a response to technology’s growing role in helping improve the reading and writing skills of people with dyslexia. The study used devices known as a ‘small e-reader,’ which applies to any small electronic device with e-reading capabilities. Although there are dedicated e-reader devices on the market, the Plos One study used iPods to test the students.


In the study, the researchers used the handheld devices – the iPods – to have the students read words that were displayed in a large font. Each line of text displayed on the devices had just a few words; the students were able to manually scroll through the text in the device’s vertical orientation. This scrolling effectively simulated scrolling through text as if it were like a long and near-continuous column of newspaper.


The students read text from the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test using the iPods and normal white paper; both media forms displayed the text in full lines of 14 point text.


The study results are in


According to the published results from the Plos One study, students who had the most difficulties with sight-word reading ‘were able to read faster on the iPod.’ Students with a limited visual attention span actually improved their comprehension when reading on the iPod.


As text can be manipulated on e-readers, reading can potentially be made easier for users with dyslexia.  Through e-readers, text can be displayed through apps – short for applications – and web browsers.


Although not immediately available in web browsers, users can manipulate and/or change the way text looks. As a result, this allows them to correct any visual and/or mental impairments that prevent users with dyslexia and other learning disabilities from reading.


The study showed that almost half the students, who had deficiencies with their visual attention span, sight-word reading and oculomotor, ‘showed an increase in their reading speed and aforementioned comprehension.’ As nearly 15 percent readers have symptoms from dyslexia, the results from the study proves that e-readers can help improve their reading comprehension and speed on a daily basis.


A new way to read


E-readers and similar electronic devices provide a significant advantage over their print counterparts for dyslexic readers.


Many e-readers and e-reader apps allow users to change text size with a ‘pinch of their finger’ or through tapping plus (+) and minus (-) icons above the text. For many dyslexic readers, changing the size of the text can allow them to ‘interact with words in a new way.’


The reading method used in the Plos One study is called Span Limited Tactile Reinforcement (SLTR), which, as mentioned, formats text into a newspaper-like column.


The Span Limited Tactile Reinforcement method spaces text into shorter lines, which helps readers with learning disabilities like dyslexia ‘improve oculomotor function.’ This stems to the fact that many dyslexics are known to have improperly coordinated eye muscles, which causes reading difficulties.


Reformatted SLTR text helps dyslexic readers read words by ‘eliminating’ the accuracy needed to read

words in tighter lines and columns.


Are larger displays better?


Do larger displays also help dyslexic readers read better? In a previously conducted study by Schneps, it was found that smaller screens worked better for dyslexic readers instead of larger devices. Devices with smaller displays, like the iPod Touch’s 3.5 inch display, outperformed larger devices with displays over 4 inches.


In the aforementioned study, researchers used ‘eye-tracking’ to analyze the participating students. They found that students who struggled the most with reading actually benefited from using the iPod Touch.


Both devices used the same font size with 11 words per line, though the iPad used in the study, caused more ‘leftward regressions.’ This meant that readers had to scroll back and review previously read words.


According to the results, the iPod Touch’s small screen allows dyslexic readers to retain attention on smaller blocks of text.


In closing, electronic devices like e-readers are likely to play a large role in the treatment of learning disorders like dyslexia. Readers with dyslexia need personalized treatment options, which might provide difficult with more traditional ways of reading.

School Dysgraphia Solutions For Today’s Students

School Dysgraphia Solutions For Today’s Students



Children with learning disabilities like dysgraphia are likely to benefit from specialized attention, particularly through focused school lessons, programs and learning tools.


Coping with dysgraphia


Many learning disabilities, like dysgraphia, have different treatment options to prevent students from developing learning deficiencies.


Dysgraphia is generally found early in childhood; at this stage, a medical professional formally diagnoses the learning disability. From there, parents, educators and medical professionals work to remediate the learning disability through different forms of resourceful learning and physical therapy.


Children with dysgraphia may be treated through occupational therapy to help them build muscle strength and dexterity in their hands; this may also help treat and improve their hand-eye coordination. It also helps a child’s handwriting improve, overall preventing it from depreciating over time.


Multisensory learning approaches, like the approaches used in dyslexia treatments, also help students with dysgraphia learn skills necessary to write.


Special education and dysgraphia


In recent times, school boards across the country have searched for solutions to help students with learning disabilities.


Previously existing special needs programs, although used by students with physical disabilities, might not provide students with learning disabilities with the instruction they need to improve their intrinsic learning skills.


Dysgraphia, in particular, is a learning disability that affects how children acquire their written language skills, in addition to how they use their written language skills to express their thoughts. When used in the context of special education programs, school teachers and physicians might have difficulties in treating students with the condition.


Special education programs in schools today require parents to work with teachers and physicians to make a treatment plan that’s best for their child. Parents who suspect that their child may have the learning disability generally have to speak with their child’s school principal and/or counselor about requesting an assessment test.


Children with dysgraphia need an early diagnosis to determine the best treatment options for their learning of writing language. Today, many schools don’t have inherently systematic instructional programs for handwriting, spelling and word reading. Dysgraphic students, as a result, might not have an active resource for learning about writing language.


Difficulties like these comprise the main issues parents might have with special education. Although they can receive accommodations for the aforementioned testing and teaching, dysgraphic students ultimately need a consistent resource to learn.


Though, finding assistance for a dysgraphic child doesn’t stop there for the parent. Parents also have to go through the school to enroll their child into their aforementioned special education program. The application process to enroll their child into the special education system is considered, by most parents, to be ‘daunting’ and ‘confusing.’


Treating dysgraphia in schools


Learning disabilities like dysgraphia, as mentioned, can be treated in schools through special education. However, many schools around the country face difficulties when properly addressing students with the learning disability.


Public school educators across the country are likely to ‘not properly identify children with dysgraphia and provide them with appropriate instruction.’ This may relate to the fact that federal law ‘specifies written expression as a problematic area for students with learning disabilities without clearly identifying the casual factors of the conditions.’


These casual factors generally involve a student’s impaired spelling and/or handwriting problems. In the aforementioned context, federal law doesn’t clearly specify what transcription problems cause impairment in written expression for students affected by dysgraphia.


Testing used to assess written expression also might not suit dysgraphia assessment, as students are often not scored for handwriting or spelling problems. As a result, they can ‘mask’ how severe dysgraphia difficulties may be.


In addition, temperamental problems like a lack of motivation may cover dysgraphia in some students, convincing teachers that they might not need assistance.


Beating the system


Although the systematic enrollment into special education appears difficult for both parents and students, today’s schools and associated healthcare professionals are taking care to introduce solutions for special needs students with learning disabilities.


Recently, the PACER Center of Minneapolis, Minnesota announced plans to ‘hold a workshop designed to help parents navigate their child’s school special education system.’ The PACER Center workshop aims to ‘provide a complete overview of the specialized education process, using materials designed to assist parents with a way to structure their child’s records in preparation for enrollment.’


Many of the topics that will be covered at the workshop will include ‘the value of free and appropriate public education, resolving disagreements, student evaluation and the Individualized Education Program.’


The PACER Center itself is at the forefront of helping parents and students with disabilities in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the rest of the United States. As with their upcoming dysgraphia workshop (October 8th), PACER hosts and sponsors many events designed for people who struggle with disabilities.


With their dyslexia and dysgraphia workshops, the PACER Center aims to help parents ‘understand and support their child students with their learning struggles.’ The ‘Dysgraphia: What A Parent Needs to Know’ community education workshop is expected to cover dysgraphia in all aspects, including how to detect, assess, remedy and accommodate students with dysgraphia.