7. Communication & Learning Disorders
Describe the key features of children’s communication disorders.
Identify the main causes of communication disorders and their evidence-based treatment.
Learning Disabilities & Specific Learning Disorder
Differentiate between a specific learning disorder and a specific learning disability.
Describe how learning disorders and disabilities are identified in school-age children.
Give examples of evidence-based treatments for school-age children with reading, writing, or math disabilities.
Note: The number before each objective shows its corresponding module in the text.
Specific Language Impairment
Children with SLI show problems with the underlying components of language. In this video, a girl makes several phonologic (i.e., word sound) errors that are typical of children with SLI.
In this video, produced by The Stuttering Foundation, kids describe what it's like to have childhood-onset fluency disorder.
Speech Sound Disorder
Like many kids her age, 7-year-old Grace has trouble articulating the /r/ sound in all word positions and in blends. Articulation problems like these characterize SSD.
Alexis, a girl with SSD, shows how she works on her /k/ and /g/ sounds during speech therapy. Note how her therapist teaches correct tongue placement.
To reduce stuttering, therapists teach children to begin words using a soft or "easy" voice. In this excellent video, speech therapist Meredith Avren demonstrates how it's done.
A therapist demonstrates milieu training to help a child practice his language skills. Notice how she uses various prompts, immediately corrects errors, and reinforces correct language during an everyday task.
In this short video, a therapist uses conversational recast training to help a girl practice phonological (i.e., the /s/ sound) and morphological (i.e., the -ed ending) skills.
Response to Intervention
RTI is a widely-used method to identify children at risk for learning disabilities. This video, produced by Edutopia, provides an overview of how RTI is implemented in one school.
Phonemic awareness is essential to reading. In this video, a teacher demonstrates phonemic awareness training. Notice how she emphasizes word sounds, not letters.
In this awesome video, a 1st grade teacher uses phonics-based reading instruction to teach decoding skills. Notice how she uses principles of direct instruction including clear instructions, prompting, and lots of practice.
RAVE-O helps children develop reading fluency and comprehension skills by building their reading vocabularies. In this video, a teacher demonstrates the program with her class of 2nd and 3rd-graders.
Self-regulated strategy development helps children develop writing skills by explicitly teaching them steps in the writing process. In this video, middle school students demonstrate some of the SRSD strategies.
ASLHA is the largest professional organization of speech-language pathologists—individuals who identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems in children and adults. The link for “The Public” provides a nice overview of hearing and communication disorders and their treatment. The link labeled “Careers” describes career options for students interested in this profession.
NASP is a professional organization for school psychologists that represents and supports the discipline through education, advocacy, and training. The link "About School Psychology" provides a wealth of information for graduate students who are training to be school psychologists and undergraduate students who are considering a profession in school psychology. NASP also posts position papers and reviews important topics related to child mental health.
The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) is a committee of representatives of organizations committed to the education and welfare of individuals with learning disabilities. Their website offers a good starting point for researching the topic of learning disabilities and disorders. Be sure to click the “Especially for…” links to find information for professionals and parents as well as stories and artwork by children with disabilities.