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   Attention &
book1.gif (5659 bytes)   Learning Disorders 


In the United States, the term “learning disability” means a disorder in one or more of the basic processes involved in understanding spoken or written language. Put another way, it impedes the ability to store, process or produce information. It may show up as a problem in a person's ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do math, despite at least average intelligence.

The term “learning disabled” does not refer to people who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing or physical handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. Learning disabilities can occur with or without problems in attention.

Common attention and learning disabilities include:

Attention Deficit Disorder involves a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity to a greater degree than expected developmentally, such symptoms must have been present prior to age 7, impairment from the symptoms must be present in at least two settings, and there must be clear evidence of interference with developmentally appropriate social, academic, and/or occupational functioning.  While many claim to be able to diagnose ADD, appropriate diagnostic procedures involve at least all of the following: complete history (including: developmental, school, occupational, and social), direct observations, psychometric assessment, and clinical interview and does not simply involve response to medication.

Auditory, Memory and Processing Disability describes problems people have in understanding or remembering words or sounds because their brains fail to understand language correctly. This can often be mistaken by parents and doctors as a hearing problem but, in fact, an individual with this disability is not able to process or memorize information.

Dyscalculia causes people to have problems doing arithmetic and grasping mathematical concepts. While many people have problems with math, a person with dyscalculia has a much more difficult time solving basic math problems than his or her peers.

Dysgraphia is a writing disorder that causes people to have difficulty forming letters or writing within a defined space. People with this disorder need extra time and effort to write neatly.  Despite their efforts, their handwriting may be almost illegible.

Dyslexia is a reading disability typified by problems in expressive or receptive, oral or written language. Problems may emerge in reading, spelling, writing, speaking, or listening. People with dyslexia often show talent in areas that require visual, spatial, and motor integration.

Hyperlexia is a syndrome observed in children who have the following characteristics: precocious ability to read words -- far above what would be expected at the chronological age -- or an intense fascination with numbers or letters; significant difficulty understanding and using verbal language or a significant nonverbal learning disability;  difficulty in reciprocal interaction.


Attention Deficit Disorder

   The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a variety of materials on Learning Disabilities including "How should learning disabilities be treated?" and a statement on the ineffectiveness of Vision Therapy for learning disabilities on their website, which states in part:: "However, regardless of the vision therapy method, NONE of them have been proven to improve or correct learning disabilities. Many vision therapy methods have no medical basis and can even cause a delay in getting children the educational assistance they need.  Children with learning disabilities benefit from remedial exercises given by qualified educators in a one-to-one setting at school. Learning disabilities are caused by the brain - not vision."  In addition they have a referral service and provide access to a variety of reference materials online.

   C.H.A.D.D. Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (C.H.A.D.D.) was founded in 1987 in response to the frustration and sense of isolation experienced by parents and their children with ADD. At that time, there were very few places one could turn to for support or information and ADD was seriously misunderstood by many people. Indeed, children and adults with ADD were often wrongly labeled a "behavior problem," "unmotivated," or "not intelligent enough" - and many clinicians and educators knew little about ADD.  CHADD is the nation's largest ADD organization and has as its mission working to improve the lives of people with ADD.

   LD OnLine is a service of The Learning Project at WETA, Washington, D.C., in association with The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities. LD OnLine is made possible in part by generous support from The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and Web hosting service for LD OnLine are contributed by MindSpring Enterprises. 

   The National Attention Deficit Disorder Association..."is an organization built around the needs of adults and young adults with ADD and ADHD. [They] seek to serve individuals with ADD, as well as those who love, live with, teach, counsel, and treat those who do. ADDA is a growing organization, built on a foundation of service to its members, the public, and the professional community. ADDA is a nonprofit organization, staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers."

   The National Library of Medicine maintains a web page on the diagnosis and treatment of ADD/ADHD.  The NLM is a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Dyslexia

   The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) (formerly The Orton Dyslexia Society) is an international scientific and educational organization, incorporated in the U.S. as a 501(c)(3) non-profit (charity), dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia. "The IDA was first established nearly 50 years ago to continue the pioneering work of Dr. Samuel T. Orton, who was one of the first to identify dyslexia and its remediation.   ...The IDA has been helping individuals with dyslexia, their families, teachers, physicians, and researchers to better understand dyslexia. [They] work  nationally and locally on issues such as legislation, public awareness, research, public information, and education. [They] collaborate with other learning disability organizations to increase the public's understanding of learning disabilities. Like other non-profits, The IDA relies heavily on our dedicated volunteers. In addition to being guided by an all-volunteer National Board of Directors, many of [their] Branch Offices are staffed by volunteers. The IDA also has a total of 45 Branches--43 in the United States, 1 in Canada and 1 in Israel. In addition, [they] have at-large members in 36 other countries and Provinces in Canada."

   The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of The Library of Congress administers a free library program of braille and recorded materials circulated to eligible borrowers through a network of cooperating libraries. The NLS provides a Reference Circular on Learning Disabilities: Organizations and Resources.

   Renee's Resources is a website offered by Renee M. Newman who is a special education consultant on Dyscalculia and Dyslexia.  Her WebPages have a variety of links to resources for parents and students on these topics.

   Teens Helping Teens is "a web page designed by dyslexic teens - to help teens (And lots of others who visit!)" that is run entirely by teens with LD and sponsored by the New York Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.  If you area  student (or have a teen) who feels alone because of a learning disability these pages will help you understand that you are definitely NOT alone.


General Learning Disorder Sites  

   The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a variety of materials on Learning Disabilities including "How should learning disabilities be treated?" and a statement on the ineffectiveness of Vision Therapy for learning disabilities on their website, which states in part:: "However, regardless of the vision therapy method, NONE of them have been proven to improve or correct learning disabilities. Many vision therapy methods have no medical basis and can even cause a delay in getting children the educational assistance they need.  Children with learning disabilities benefit from remedial exercises given by qualified educators in a one-to-one setting at school. Learning disabilities are caused by the brain - not vision."  In addition they have a referral service and provide access to a variety of reference materials online.

   The American Library Association. and the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies offer The Public Libraries' Learning Disabilities Initiative, a website devoted to bringing information about learning disabilities to the general public through libraries while increasing public libraries' capacity to serve. 

   The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), a non-profit association that traces its history back to Columbia Teachers College in 1922, "is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides continual professional development, advocates for newly and historically underserved individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice."  They have divisions on Learning Disabilities, Mental Retardation, Communication Disorders, Visual Impairments, Behavior Disorders, and Gifted among others.

   The Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) is "an international organization of and for professionals who represent diverse disciplines and who are committed to enhance the education and lifespan development of individuals with learning disabilities. CLD establishes standards of excellence and promotes innovative strategies for research and practice through interdisciplinary collegiality, collaboration, and advocacy"   They provide an array of Information Sheets on various topics relating to LD.

   The Higher Education National Software Archives (HENSA)" is a national service which benefits the higher education and research community in the UK. It is funded by JISC, the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils.  It maintains copies of electronic archives from all over the world, providing access to a wide range of up-to-date software and other material which is available free of charge to anyone from the UK Higher Education community.  The service is designed to help two groups of users, those using the UNIX operating system and those using PC's and microcomputers. There is some overlap between the two branches of the service."

   Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) is a private organization founded by  Karen McLaughlin in Los Altos, California which states that it "hopes to provide a valuable resource to parents and educators free of charge, while providing education professionals the opportunity to offer their services to the special education community.  Through ISER, A parent can find a local education professional who will:  accompany her through the local school's IEP process; help to diagnosis her child's learning difficulty; locate the best school for her child. A parent who is moving to a new town can contact local professionals who can help make the transition smoother for a special needs child."

   LDResources web pages are operated by Anne and Richard Wanderman and include a large assortment of web links to organizations, information targeted at parents and children, and other articles and essays.  They offer an E-mail update feature to notify you of any updates to the website.

   Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) is a national, non-profit organization whose stated   purpose is to advance the education and general welfare of children and adults of normal or potentially normal intelligence who manifest disabilities of a perceptual, conceptual, or coordinative nature.  LDA seeks to accomplish this through advocacy, education, research and service, and through collaborative efforts.  LDA has 50 state affiliates and more than 600 local chapters in 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico.  

   Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (Troubles d' Apprentissage- Association Canadienne) offers information in both English and French.  "The LDAC is a national, non-profit voluntary organization which was founded in 1963 and incorporated in 1971. It is dedicated to advance the education, employment, social development, legal rights and general well-being of people with learning disabilities.  The approximate membership is 10,000. Although the majority are parents, a good proportion of the membership includes physicians, psychologists, lawyers, language experts, optometrists, psychiatrists, public health and physical education personnel, educators, and members of school boards and administrators.  There is a Learning Disabilities Association in each province and territory of Canada and from these extends a network of chapters in more than 140 communities across the country. These Associations are affiliated with the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada and share the same aims and objectives."

   National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. (NCLD) is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the lives of those affected by learning disabilities and "provides, free of charge, the latest information on learning disabilities and resources available in communities nationwide to parents, professionals and adults with learning disabilities. Thousands of requests are handled each year for specific information on learning disabilities, as well as local referrals to schools, clinics, camps, colleges, parent support groups, and other sources of help."

   The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) is the national information and referral center that provides information on disabilities and disability-related issues for families, educators, and other professionals. They focus on the needs of children and youth (birth to age 22).  The NICHCY information is also available in Spanish: El Centro Nacional de Información para Niños y Jóvenes con Discapacidades.

   The National Institute for Literacy The U.S. "National Literacy Act of 1991 charged the NIFL with the task of pulling together a rich but fragmented field and improving communication and information exchange nationwide.... In early 1994, the NIFL formed eight working groups from throughout the literacy community to develop standards for creating a national system. ....This site became the first and central contact point for nationwide information exchange about literacy, and we called it LINCS (Literacy Information aNd Communication System)."

   The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health offers a booklet on Learning Disorders designed to help the parent of a child with basics on what LDs are, what causes them, how are they treated, and what does the U.S. government offer. 

Hyperlexia

   The American Hyperlexia Association is a not-for-profit organization that offers assistance and advocacy to parents and students.  "Hyperlexia is a syndrome observed in children who have the following characteristics: precocious ability to read words -- far above what would be expected at the chronological age -- or an intense fascination with numbers or letters; significant difficulty understanding and using verbal language or a significant nonverbal learning disability;  difficulty in reciprocal interaction."

   The Canadian Hyperlexia Association is a not-for-profit association of concerned parents and professionals who have incorporated in the province of Ontario.  It is their stated   "mission to: Foster awareness of the syndrome of hyperlexia across Canada; Provide information relating to the observable characteristics of hyperlexia; Collect, disseminate and share information, practical strategies, and resources regarding hyperlexia; Provide opportunities for parents, children and professionals to network; Acknowledge the value of appropriate, early and on-going intervention."


Speech-Language Disorders

   American Speech-Language-Hearing Association "is the professional, scientific,   and credentialing association for more than 96,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Their site is a resource for ASHA members, persons interested in information about communication disorders, and for those wanting career and membership information.  The mission of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is to promote the interests of and provide the highest quality services for professionals in audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech and hearing science, and to advocate for people with communication disabilities.

   Communication Disorders Health Guide is a private-for-profit site run by SpeechPathology.Com, Inc. "where individuals can find information about specific conditions, products, professionals and support groups all related to communication disorders."   "Communication Disorders Health Guide is designed to provide three major components to
its readers: A publication which delivers interactive education and advocacy; A reference resource and link for students and professionals, and An electronic consumer guide, catalog and mercantile."

   Speech Research on the Net is a self-expanding directory of speech research and technology on the web.  This resource has sections on: Language and Memory, Speech Physiology and Acoustics, Hearing and Perception, Speech and Speaker Recognition, Speech and Audio Analysis, and Compression Speech Synthesis.

   The U.S. National Institutes of Health has a division The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)  that provides a consumer health information page on hearing in infants and toddlers that is VERY useful for the concerned (or scared) parent who thinks their child may be having a hearing or serious attention problem.

 

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