Learning Disability Essay

Learning disabilities is caused by the way our brain develops. It appears they are triggered by a dysfunction of the central nervous system. For me having an insight into learning disability has provided me with awareness to the causes and the way care and treatment is provided. Markova et al. 2004 define communication as a difficulty to receive, send and comprehend information as well as process verbal and non-verbal aspects.

Communication is identified as one of the essential skills that students must acquire in order to make progress through their education and raining to become qualified nurses (NC, 2010). Communication can be defined as the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another (Keystone, 2011). The biggest challenge I faced is communicating in a way clients understand and having the ability to alter the way I communicate when dealing with different illnesses.

Communication with people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (MELD) is vital as well as being aware of the different methods and being able to adjust to individuals needs. The ability to communicate effectively with those ho may have different communication requirements enables affective delivery of care and minimizes any potential risks Jackson et al. 2008). At the end of the day communication is a basic human right and is essential for therapeutic interventions. I will use Kola’s model of reflection as a framework to base my experience on.

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Kola (1984) devised an experiential learning cycle. His model highlights the concept of experimental learning and looks at the transformation of information into knowledge. It focuses on analyzing the understanding of a situation after it’s happened and then jesting this knowledge on a new situation by recalling our observations and reflecting upon them. The study of communication is important, because every activity involves some form of direct or indirect communication. Two common elements in every communication exchange are the sender and the receiver.

A problem in any of the elements in the model can cause a disruption to the effectiveness of communication (Keystone, 2011). Nonverbal gestures, facial expressions, body position, and even clothing can transmit messages. Four types of barriers are process barriers, physical barriers, semantic arises, and psychosocial barriers (Ginsberg, 2010). Barlow (1960) devised a model of communication called the SUMS model (Source, message, channel and receiver). The main focus is on the relationship between the source and the receiver.

One of the major flaws in Borrows model is that according to him both people need to same on the same level for effective communication to take place. However his model is seen sign of not being able to understand what is going on and in those that struggle to communicate their feelings back. It is a demanding field that requires time and a lot f patience and a motivated interest in wanting to understand. I have had to be aware of my how my communication has been interpreted by those by using techniques that require them to confirm their understanding.

This included using simple, short sentences and trying to avoid saying something that can be misunderstood. The most common methods I was exposed to on my experience were verbal communication, British Sign language (BBS), Megaton, the use of pictorials and words, making noises, slight aggression and most commonly the use of touch’. I had the experience of learning basic sign language and was able to put this in to use with member of staff who was deaf. As nurses we need to ensure that everyone’s way of communication is valued.

Facial expressions, body language and gestures are equally important as some clients were unable to understand speech therefore relied heavily on these methods. I was given the opportunity to see some of the communication aids that are available however there was not an opportunity to use them. It still provided me with a grounded knowledge of the resources that are available. A lack of effective communication leads to frustration. Frustration leads to withdrawal or anger and aggression expressed against self or others. This is seen as ‘challenging behavior’. Most of the clients I engaged with were diagnosed with downs syndrome and autism.

Miller et al (1999) suggest that language and communication are key areas that affect the personal and social development of these conditions. I had a particular client who had both a physical and a learning disability. He had a condition called Farm’s syndrome, which is a build up of calcium in the brain. His physical disability lead to him not being able to communicate and therefore has become mute. I had spent a to of time in group based exercises where clients were all mixed together. It was an interesting experience to see how staffs deal with different learning disabilities and behaviors at one time.

There were a few differences amongst the service users due to differences of behaviors and attitudes and disorders. I also found that listening is the most important skill and often very challenging. Listening is an essential component of effective communication. Much of the communication that takes place between people is non-verbal and our faces and bodies are extremely communicative (Egan 2010). Being able to read non- verbal messages or body language is an important factor in establishing and maintaining relationships (Carton et al. 1999). Another common form of communicating with clients was with the use of touch, as a form of non-verbal communication. This yet again is an important component of therapeutic communication. Within learning disabilities, touch can be used as a meaner of reassurance (Gleeson and Higgins, respect. In nursing touch may be one of the most important of all non-verbal behaviors (Nemesis et al 1982). I have come to observed that touch displays care specially when clients are unable to express their feelings in any other way.

Learning disabled clients are classed as vulnerable due to their lack of ability to understand the society. Healthcare professionals need to understand client’s needs and assist by using the right methods. I have understood that people with learning disabilities have the right to be treated the same as every other individual. The idea proposed by the Department of Health (DOD, 2001) that all current students should have an awareness into the field is essential as we will come across individuals with OTOH learning and physical disabilities and will need to be aware of how to manage these challenging situations.

Communication is the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another. The elements of the communication process are the sender, encoding the message, transmitting the message through a medium, receiving the message, decoding the message, feedback, and noise. A number of barriers retard effective communication. These can be divided into four categories: process barriers, physical barriers, semantic barriers, and psychosocial arises. Conclusion Reflection helps focus on the client’s perspective, and as such encourage person- centered communication.

The main principle in using reflective skills involves identifying the clients’ core message and offering it back to them in your own words. Communication is fundamental to nursing and can be used to provide advocacy and empowerment to the clients. Communication is an essential skill in order to build a rapport with clients. Series (1960) Department of Health (2001) Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century Ginsberg, E. M. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint.

Learning Disability Essay

Learning Disability

Introduction to Learning Disability

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The term Learning Disability was first referred to by Kirk in 1962 (Streissguth et al 1993). It connotes uncoordinated activity which involves inability of an individual to acquire knowledge with poor eventual output. A literature reported by the National Joint Committee for Learning Impairments reveal in a study of “49 of 50 states, 28 states have different definitions for the same disability” (Stenberg, 1999). Learning disability is a form of disorder that comprises numerous combinations of diseases producing symptoms and signs suggestive of subject difficulties in “acquisition and use of listening skill, speaking skill, reading, reasoning, writing or computational skill”. The disease is inherent in the affected individual. The disability is discovered to have erupted following defect in the body’s central nervous system coordination of learned activities. Often times, this disability may occur with other body malformations such as in individuals with presentation of body function impairment.

It could also be present simultaneously with environmentally induced debilities. The disability does not have a similar genesis with the associated impairment (only) if present. Some of the associated handicapped conditions are as follows; mental retardation (especially in the new born), sensorineural functional loss, social and psychological imbalance. Other environmental etiology of associated functional impairment includes cultural dissimilarities or ethnocentrism, et cetera. Learning Disability gained societal attention owing to the pathetic condition the sufferer experienced, as such, the United States, in an act, arrives at a definition for Individuals with Disability. The official definition thus states that learning disability is a

“disorder in  one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, to think, to speak, to spell, or perform mathematical calculations. Learning disability includes certain conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal cerebral dysfunction, dyslexia (impaired reading ability), and motor or sensory aphasia (speech defect).”(IDEA, F70-F79, USA)

Since it is generally conceived that inability to learn is not an indication for intelligence deficit but rather, an indication of neurological difficulty in processing and in analysis of spoken languages, or integration of digits and alphabets to forming words, some experts fault the definition on so many basis because the symptom is compensated with individual acquisition of special learning techniques. The analysis in few literature reports on learning disability comes shortly.

There appears a wide controversy over what exactly should be adopted as a technical definition of learning disability for years. Many authors are found of calving out definitions in their own field. A critic argued that besides the uninformative definition, subjective dissimilarities without experimentation is not enough to ascertain the level of learning disability because it could not assist in any scientific justification since this happens to be the fundamental of science (Aaron et al., 1995). For example, how does one classify poor school performance in the absence of low Intelligent Quotient (IQ) when compared with subject of poor academic output and low IQ? A modern approach is suggested to base definition on what is known as “Responsiveness to Intervention”. Here, the children with poor academic performance in school are first examined and noted for the first two years. Following the identification, a remedial class is then organized in company of other members of the class. The response in the remedial vocation then forms the basis on which learning disability can be justified. The posit for this findings is founded in the work of Sterngerg (1999) who shows that “early remediation can greatly cut the statistic of children who could have gone disabled but for the intervention, that the number of children meeting the diagnostic scale for learning disabilities stands higher in the absence of any remediation.” Sternberg (1999) equally argued that people whose diagnosis short pal the scientific criteria could not have got the same performance in other activities (music, sports etc) as they would in academics. The system of undue compulsion to study does little in acknowledging the fact that people are endowed with range of strength/rigour and weaknesses.

How It Is Different From Other Associated Conditions?

Learning disability is not the absence of ability to acquire knowledge; it is rather the presence of an inherent socio-biological constraint from knowledge acquisition. On the other hand, mental retardation or dementia is a cognitive impairment of an affected individual with low Intelligent Quotient of say 70. The definitions for other conditions are not accounted for in the findings of patient with learning disability. The learning disabled individuals have the full but incapacitated latency. Secondly, though it is possible to find patient with learning disability with signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder because both patients present with poor learning activities, ADHD can occur without the presence of learning disability, the condition is similar on the reverse. And ADHD is treatable with more clear elimination of symptoms.

Different Types Of Learning Disability

There are two basic standing sub-headings on which learning disability is professionally categorized, viz. “Information Processing and Specific Learning defects” (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2004)

Information processing Defect

This type is founded on the discovery of four stages that are involved in information processing. These include the input stage, the integration step, the storage and the output stages. The input stage is where information is received through perception with hearing sensory organs. Defect in these organs affect perception of an object to touching, thereby resulting in poor characterization of its shape and dimension. There is auditory problem of inability to analyze spoken sound of lecturer’s. The defected integrating function during information processing affects coordination of previous learning event or past data input. Integrating stage helps to narrate experience, story, or memorization of input information. When this portion is affected, there is loss of output skill, unable to integrate numerals of alphabets together to form meaningful words. The storage part of information processing simply affects memory (mostly short term memory). There is inability to recall studied picture which makes reading difficult – visual memory impairment. The output unit of information processing deals with the transmission of processed information from the cerebrum either to muscular action or language form. This can affect speaking. Answering questions is made difficult also. The sequence involves retrieval of stored information from the brain, the coordination in an organized manner, and assembling of words into speech with regular tone and synchronicity.

Specific Learning Defects

This is the second way of typing Learning Disability. This includes inability to read, writing defects, poor computational skill, and nonverbal learning disability, difficulty in motor or muscular movement. Reading difficulty is the most prevalence of the specific defects. About seventy to eighty per cent of affected students with learning disabilities cannot read correctly on several learning attempts. The encompassing difficulty in reading includes inaccuracy, poor fluency, poor word recognition, inability to decode words, and slow reading speed. Others include bad reading comprehension and elicitation of facial expression during pronunciation. There is also associated breaking of words into compartmental differentials. Secondly, writing disability is also known as “dysgraphia”. This type of learning disability under sub-heading of specific learning defects demonstrates impairment of smooth/neat writing, spelling, and sentence composition. Thirdly is the “dyscalculia”, mathematical computing deficit. The reason and learning skills are affected. Poor memorization of formula and irritating arrangement of numbers are also seen under “dyscalculia”. The non-verbal learning defect shows in activity awkward, “poor visual-spatial skills, problematic social specifics rigour in verbal domains, including speech, large vocabulary, early reading, eloquent expression and spelling skills” (Lerner & Janet 2000). Dyspraxia is the fifth under this category. It refers to problem with skills involving motor movements. There is inability or obvious defect on an attempt to wave, comb or when performing any other activities involving serial single direction. Lastly is the disorder of speaking and listening. “They also elicit abnormal social skills, poor organizational planning, and time management” (Lerner & Janet, 2000).

The Cause Of Learning Disabilities

The actual cause of learning disabilities is not known but researchers have put forth various likely causes which grossly implicate the brain. There are findings concerning defects in brain congenital formation during fetal development, the thesis of drug abuse or addiction is also known, malnutrition in poor or uneducated individuals (with poor dieting), vertical transmission from parental genes and lack of nursing care during pregnancy and months after delivery. The structural defect is traced to defect in communication between different portions of the brain. Hormones, particularly neurotransmitters, which form the bases of neuronal communication, are not transmitted. Known neurotransmitters involved n communication is dopamine and serotonin. Insufficient production of these hormones or their abnormal metabolisms to intermediate compounds with possibility of excessive uptake by the receptor cells can equally affect communication and networking between the brain nerves. Lastly, there could be accident during birth from head injuries, or early toxic exposure e.g. leads poisoning, pesticides.

Diagnosing Learning Disabilities

Most obvious problem to parent is the repeated inability of a child to do well in school, beginning with inability to read when others are performing the same task. Through interactions, clerking, collaboration of psychologist (clinical psychologist), and neuropsychologists to perform range of intelligence tests on suspected individuals, the disability is diagnosed. Some of the tests to be conducted include assessment of classroom performance among peers, memory retention, attention accuracy, speech abilities, social involvement and aptitude tests. As a measure of discrepancy between IQ and academic performance scores earlier mentioned, some institution using it receive perpetual critics for lacking in objectivity. Fletcher (2003), though with weak evidence, researched that the presence of discrepancy between IQ and achievement shows learning disability. The “Response to Intervention” mentions earlier also give diagnosis of Learning disabilities. Lyon, a critic of” Response to Intervention” queried the need for deferring a child till a worsen situation before embarking on treatment (Lyon et al, 2001).

Managing Individuals With Learning Disability

The use of “specialized instruction” and some designed “adjustment, equipment and assistants” could improve but the disabilities entails a long life management. The use of “remediation” as suggested by Sternberg (1999) is also a palliative measure (treating symptoms). To avoid mental ill health and prevent certain common vulnerable attitudes, as strongly researched and predicted by psychologists, there is a need for both clinical psychologist and neuro-clinicians to fashion out standard clinical practice to form acceptable basis for treatment (British Psychologist Society, 2004).

Social and Cultural Implications of Learning Disability

Often times, the affected individuals feels alienated from the surrounding, enveloped by a sense of rejection from the society due to shame, frustration from several self-assistances that prove abortive. Others are fear of failing in the next out-fit, loneliness, ridicule, and peers mocking (especially for a child).

Society suffers the grievances of few of these ones who manage to get themselves off the perpetual trouble but turn out to constituting nuisance to the society in areas of crime commission and unacceptable social or moral vices. They arraigned in juvenile courts but the problem persist in the absence of detention facility or other measures as a form of assistance following discovery of Learning disabilities. Few researches conducted by Centre for Law and Social Policy (CLSP, 1998) on welfare program by the States shows an average of 30% of attendees to have been suffering from Learning Disabilities in school with over 80% undiagnosed while in school. Also in 2007, New York State Rehabilitation Association got an evaluation of about 32% in one of the rehabilitation schemes organized by the State. Furthermore, Rhode Island gave account of 21% of individuals with Learning Disabilities applied and received States welfare support between 9 months (1997-1998). The gender implication in the society shows equal prevalence of Learning Disabilities in girls and boys but girls are less out-spoken leading to unnoticed identification for selected treatment among boys. Approximate estimate of about 80% prisoners are illiterate who can neither read nor write legibly. The societal effects of Learning Disabilities are so enormous that economy suffers the impact for neglect. This calls for a reawakening of consciousness to identifying, management of the affected helpless individuals for a better society.


Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (1999). Our labeled children: What every parent and teacher needs to know about learning disabilities. Reading, MA: Perseus Publishing Group

Fletcher, Lyon, et al, 2007. Learning Disabilities: From Identification to Intervention. The Guilford Press.

Lerner, Janet (2000). Learning Disabilities: Theories, Diagnosis and Teaching Strategies. Eighth edition. Houghton Mifflin.

New York State Rehabilitation Association, 2007 http://www.nyrehab.org/Text/WED_Welfare.cfm

Center for Law and Social Policy, 1998

Flanagan, D.P., & Mascolo, J.T. (2005). Pyschoeducational Assessment and Learning Disability Diagnosis. In D.P. Flanagan & P.L. Harrison (Eds). Contemporary Intellectual Assessment: Theories, Tests, and Issues. New York: The Guildford Press.

The New York State Rehabilitation Association, in Welfare to Work and Hidden Disabilities (2007), Available at: www.nyrehab.org/Text/WED_Welfare.cfm retrieved June 19, 2007.

Aaron, P.G. (1995). “Differential Diagnosis of Reading Disabilities.” School Psychology Review 24 (3): pg.345–60


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