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You are in: Home > Articles > Learning Difficulties

Learning Difficulties

 

What's in a name?

In order to organise our information we have adopted categories of learning broadly based on those used in the SEN Code of Practice on the identification and assessment of Special Educational Needs.

The term has been applied to those children who have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of their age or are unable to make use of the education facilities available in schools. This definition forms the basis for the identification of those children who have special educational needs.

The term learning difficulty can be applied to children with all types of disability including physical and sensory difficulties. However we have chosen to follow the lead given by the Warnock Report and to treat the sensory and physical disabilities as distinct categories.

Under the general heading of learning difficulties we have decided to use four separate classifications

Moderate Learning Difficulties
Specific Learning Difficulties and/or Dyslexia
Severe Learning Difficulties
Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

These classifications have been adopted to help us to structure the information we provide. It must be emphasised that they are descriptions of how the learner copes with the curriculum rather than an exact category of disability. It is important to deal with each learner as an individual rather than a type and also to remember that some learners will have more than one disability.

When trying to decide how to use information communication technology to support someone with learning difficulties it is essential to work out what they are able to do and what they have difficulty with. Looking for an ICT solution on the basis of someone's disability alone is unlikely to be successful. It is just as unwise to approach from a knowledge of the capability of ICT alone.

People with learning difficulties can have problems with many everyday learning activities. They can be helped in different ways to learn and achieve by being given suitable support, different learning materials, or even just a lot more encouragement. Their difficulties can cover all aspects of life and learning and affect their performance in almost everything they do. Others will have very specific difficulties, for example, someone with dyslexia may have a problem with writing and reading or even with just one aspect of spelling. This type of difficulty may just affect their performance in spelling alone, or may have caused other problems by delaying their development of writing skills. Experience, skill and care is needed to help to identify the core problem and to understand when this has given rise to further difficulties.

The computer and information technology can help with many different aspects of learning and working. For some users a keyboard and screen makes writing much easier; you can quickly correct mistakes; writing can be easier to read, and a spell checker will help to tidy it a ll up.

A talking book CD-ROM such as those in the ReadIt! series can support and encourage reading or provide information for someone who is unable to read. Technology can provide motivation, perhaps by allowing success where past experiences have only resulted in failure, or by increasing the user's self-esteem.

ReadIt! - The Time of My Life - Talking Clock ReadIt! - The Sleepy Farmer Resources ReadIt! The Best Thing Resources

Choosing appropriate technology will require a knowledge of the learners needs and the technologies available, at least in an ideal world. However other factors will come into play which will influence the choice and application of IT support. These can include:

The cost of the equipment and software
The availability of support and advice
The type of equipment already used
Would a similar amount of time and money invested in other support give more benefit.

 

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