Causes of LearningDisabilitiesAccording to Westwood (1997), there is seldom a singlecause for learning disabilities and sometimes, it is impossible to identify andpredisposing factors. Though in most cases the causes of a child’s learningdisabilities remain unknown, the possible causes can be classified into fourbroad categories namely; educational, environmental, psychological andphysiological. These categories are considered below.
2.6.1 EducationalFactorsThese are factors within the educational system that maycause learning disabilities. These include inadequate and inappropriateteaching, use of poor teaching methods, lack of motivating or stimulatingactivities, use of materials and curriculum that is too difficult for thechildren to learn, frequent absence from school as a result of illness, lack ofencouragement from parent/guardians, and financial problems (Westwood, 1997).Considering that Indian education system is highly examination-centred, schoolsare keen on how much off the curriculum they can cover within a given timeinstead of what children learn. In the process, children who are unable to copewith the pressure of preparing for examinations develop learning problems withsome of them eventually dropping out due to frustrations. According toEngellman (1977), many children are labeled LD not because of anything wrongwith their perception, synapses, or memory but because they have been seriouslymis-taught.
Concurring with this view, Lovitt (1978) argues that learningdisabilities are made, and not born.2.6.2 .EnvironmentalFactorsEvidence shows that environmentally disadvantaged childrenare likely to exhibit learning difficulties. Environmental factors, whichaffect learning include poor nutrition, lack of emotional and social security,lack of security, witchcraft, accidents, love, warmth and acceptance at home,lack of harmony at home such as single parenting, child abuse, alcoholicparents or abusive parents, quarrels among siblings, inconsiderate stepmother/step father, overwork, and inadequate sleep (Westwood, 1997). 2.
6.3 PsychologicalFactorsThese refer to an interference with senses that are used totransfer information leading to disorders in functions like receiving andrecalling information (Westwood, 1997). Children with LD exhibit a disorder inone or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding orin using spoken or written language. These may be manifested in disorders offlistening, thinking, talking, reading, writing, spelling or arithmetic. Theyinclude conditions, which have been referred to as “perceptual handicaps, braininjury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia, amongothers”.2.6.4 PhysiologicalFactorsThese include genetics and trauma.
22.214.171.124 GeneticsStudies show that learning disabilities are hereditary andtend to run in families especially severe reading disability (Pringle, 1974).When one identical twin has a reading disability, the other one is also likelyto have reading disability (but not the case with fraternal twins). 2.6.4.
2 TraumaInjury or infection of the brain, which occurs before,during or after birth, may affect the neuro-motor system leading to problems inperception, thinking and emotional behavior. Trauma interferes with the normallearning process. A significant number of children with learning problems dohave a history of traumas that may include prolonged labour, anoxia,prematurity and injury from medical instruments such as forceps. Once the causesof learning disabilities are known, teachers will be able to take necessaryintervention measures for the affected children to benefit from education. 2.
7 InterventionMeasures for Educational PurposesIf learning disabilities are suspected, the teacher mayrefer students for special education assessment. Parents are notified of thereasons for referral and presented with an assessment plan prepared by theeducational team. If consent is given for special education evaluation, theteam begins to collect information about the student (Lewis ,1983).
There are a number of intervention strategies for childrenwith learning disabilities. However, it should be noted that there is nospecific teaching method or technique, which can be used as a cure, thisteachers should apply a wide range of instructional materials and techniques(Koppitz, 1973). The following is an overview of the techniques that have beendiscussed by Lerner (1976), Wallace (1975), and Wallace (1973) among others. 2.7.1 Special ServicesWhen assessment is complete, the teacher, parent/ guardian,local education authority (and the student, if possible), can plan thestudent’s individualized Educational Program (IEP).
While the resource room isthe most typical placement for learning disabled students. Self-containedspecial classes are provided for those with comprehensive learning needs.Whereas some students with LD receive assistance in oral language developmentfrom speech-language clinicians others receive counseling from the schoolcounselor, social worker or school psychologist. 2.7.2.
Task AnalysisTask analysis involves breaking down a task into severalcomponents, which in turn are divided into sub-components. In teaching a task,which requires manual manipulation, a child observes how a model or masterperformer performs the task and tries to imitate (McCarthy, 1987). 2.7.3 PrecisionTeachingDeveloped by Lindsley (1964), this technique uses a charton which the teacher records the progress in the child’s behavior in relationto the desired or target behhaviour.
The graph is called The Class Behaviour Chart. The child’s daily progress on a giventask is recorded and also the rate of performance.2.7.
4 BehaviourModificationThis is an effective measure in remediating learningproblems, eliminating undesirable behaviours and establishing desirable ones.In addition to these techniques that are to be used I class, there are otherinterventions, which can be administered outside the school, which are outlinedbelow:2.7.5 Administration ofDrugsHyperactive children are constantly in motion, restless andimpulsive. Physicians tend to treat these characteristics by prescribing drugsto calm them. Though some caution has to be taken in the treatment of hyperactivity,drugs have nonetheless been found to produce substantial academic and behaviorimprovements.
2.7.6 DietaryManagementAnother controversial approach used in the treatment ofhyperactivity is the management of diet (Feingold, 1975).
Some chemicals foundin ffood, including additives and food colouring, cause children to becomehyperactive. However, Cott (1977) cast some doubt that diet management canreduce hyperactivity in the child.