Learning Differences

An introduction and resource page about learning differences.

Signs of Language Disorders--Dyslexia & Related

Most will have a Cluster of the Following Signs:

  • Seems unable to follow verbal instructions
  • Reluctant to speak, OR
  • Talkative but talk contains little real substance
  • Tells stories badly (sequencing, grammar, descriptives)
  • More grammatical errors than most peers
  • Uses stereotypical language more than peers (cliches, slang, swear words, over-use of certain phrases)
  • Explaining is difficult (whys and wherefores of things)--can't put complex grammar together
  • Abstract language and ideas are difficult--can only deal well with concrete and here-and-now matters
  • Difficulty "finding" words (lots of "ums" and filler words "you know" and "thing" or "stuff")
  • Can't follow sarcasm, jokes, play-on-words, puns, metaphors. Ambiguous language taken seriously
  • Says the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place in the conversation and doesn't realize it
  • Does not pick up on social non-verbal cues, facial expressions, gestures--does not realize when the other wants to end a conversation or understand the emotional content of another's words

Problems with School Work

  • Can't complete homework
  • Class discussion is badly handled
  • Trouble gaining information from books, lectures, resources
  • Trouble prioritizing information
  • Trouble knowing what to do first, next, last
  • Following rules of classroom are erratic, difficulty understanding rules or need for rules
  • Poor test performance
  • Can't explain what the problem is or reason for failture of assignment or behavior
  • Trouble with school routines--classroom locations, period length, warm-up routines, after-school help, meetings, remembering what to take home and bring back, backpack and locker is messy
  • Poor at working independently
  • Concentration and attention seem poor
  • Overall poor organization

Problems with Behavior

  • Poor self-esteem
  • Problems establishing or maintaining friendships
  • Loss of motivation, cumulative sense of failure
  • Depression, anger, frustration, withdrawal, agression
  • Reluctance to participate, including remedial work
  • Inappropriate coping mechanisms: bullying, clowing, copying and cheating, plagiarism, delinquency, truancy, going to the nurse or restroom frequently

Reading & The Brain

Find out how a brain of a kid with reading problems, like Jonathan, handles reading differently than the brain of a strong reader.

Dysgraphia--Fine Motor Problems

  • While these students might have trouble writing, they might do other fine motor skills well--drawing, building, playing an instrument.
  • They usually hold a pencil unlike others, either gripping it too hard or the suffer from pain after writing.
  • They can't write "fast enough" to keep up--cursive is very difficult.
  • They are often embarrassed of their written work so they write as little as possible, misleading the reading about their understanding.
  • They can often be faster on a computer, with less fatigue and better self-esteem.

from Levine, All kinds of minds, 269

Gross Motor Problems & Memory Issues

  • These students look clumsy--their minds have trouble controlling their large muscles, and they bump into desks, people, corners
  • They have trouble playing sports--difficulty remembering the sequence of events necessary to throw a ball, swing a racket, jump a hurdle
  • They tend to avoid sports so as not to be made fun of--they decide they don't "like" that game

from Levine, All kinds of minds, 272-73

Signs of Memory Problems

Different Kinds of Memory Problems

  • Remembering new skills or new facts, even immediately after studying them
  • Remembering new skills or new facts for a short while (in the evening) and then forget them (in the morning)

Difficulty Remembering Different Kinds of Things

  • Things they see
  • Things they hear
  • Exact facts (state capitals, multiplication facts)
  • How do to certain things (long division, tying a shoelace)
  • The order of things (days in a week, months in a year)
  • Many times more than one type of memory problem exists--facts and sequences

Difficulty Writing and Composing

  • One has to remember spelling, punctuation, rules, vocabulary, ideas, organization, as well as how to actually make the letters
  • They often have trouble remembering what they were going to write because they are so consuming with remembering how to write
  • Often work too slowly--concentrating so hard on remembering so much

Above from Levine, All kinds of minds, 249-50

Usually More than Just Memory Problems

  • Attention and memory
  • Attention and memory and dyslexia

4 Components of Remembering are Difficult for Students with Working Memory Problems

  • Labeling (ex: wind, rain, snow, hail, temperate, savannah, tundra, moist, dry, tropical)
  • Categorization (ex: weather, climate, temperatures, biomes)
  • Association (ex: weather is to climate)
  • Organization (ex: The Effects of Climate and Weather on Landforms)

Attention Deficit Students

  • These students find it hard to concentrate
  • They are paying very close attention to something other than the task at hand and miss important information
  • They "take breaks" in their mind--they gaze, listen to certain sounds, think about things entirely unrelated to the current situation
  • They feel tired or bored at school
  • They often have minds that move too fast--they make careless errors
  • Sometimes they move their bodies too much and fidget and wiggle--this is the hyperactive addition
  • They are often impulsive and say whatever comes to mind, regardless of the relevance, so their conversations can be inappropriate
  • The want new situations or activities all the time, and they really want it
  • They are often very smart in other ways, and think "outside the box" because their minds are making connections in different ways

from Levine, All kinds of minds, 233-35