What is a specific learning disability? How is the diagnostic phase performed?

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According to the definition of the American Psychiatric Association, Special Learning Disability; It is defined as a mental and neurological disorder that is diagnosed when individuals with normal or above-normal intelligence have a significantly lower level of reading, mathematics and written expression than would be expected, considering age, intelligence level and education according to standard tests. As can be understood from this definition, the individual must have normal and higher intelligence in order to be able to diagnose dyslexia. Learning disability is not a problem of intelligence, it means that the child learns with different learning methods and with more frequent repetitions.

Recognition of children with dyslexia usually occurs when they start school. Although almost all children who start primary school begin to read and write in 3-5 months, dyslexic children cannot learn to read and write like other children and this problem will continue if no precautions are taken. When dyslexic children are not treated, they struggle with this problem for life. When dyslexia is not intervened, it causes a predisposition for the development of other psychiatric disorders such as substance use, education problems, social and antisocial personality disorders in advanced ages, due to the social and psychological adaptation problem.

Dyslexia can be seen in 3-5% of primary school children. This means that there may be at least one or two children with dyslexia in each primary school classroom.

Learning Disability Can Be Called By Different Names. These;

• Learning difficulties

• Specific learning difficulties

• Specific learning difficulties

• learning disability

• Word blindness

• Reading blindness

• Reading disorder

Since dyslexia is the most common type, it has become a commonly used term in the world to describe Specific Learning Disability.

Here is a short list of well-known dyslexic people from many parts of the world:

The business world

• Richard Branson – airlines, music, mobile phone entrepreneur

• Jamie Oliver – TV cook and entrepreneur

• Thomas Edison – inventor and businessman

Entertainment Industry

• Cher – movie star

• Whoopi Goldberg – movie star

• Tom Cruise – movie star

• Eddie Izzard – comedian and entertainer


• Steve Redgrave – rower: 4 Olympic gold medals

• Duncan Goodhew – swimmer: Olympic gold medalist

• Jackie Stewart – world champion driver

Authors and Artists

• William Butler Yeats – poet

• Gustave Flaubert – author

• Agatta Cristie – author

• Hans Christian Andersson – author

• David Bailey – photographer

• Auguste Rodin – sculptor

• Richard Rogers – architect

When we look at the list, we come across many writers who have reading and writing problems. The most important feature of these people is that they have found and used many strategies to overcome their difficulties.

Common Characteristics of Students with Learning Disabilities

1-Learning disabilities are more common in boys than girls.

2-Most students with learning disabilities are identified at the 3rd and 4th grade stages and these children continue to receive support education about learning disabilities throughout their school life.

3- The difference between an individual’s mental ability and reading success enabled 90% of the students to be identified. (Commission, 2001)

4-Many students with learning difficulties have difficulty with reading, writing, or language tasks, but may not have difficulties with math. This is the exception rather than the rule, although some students have learning difficulties in math rather than reading and language classes.

5-Learning difficulties, attention problems, or high levels of distraction in public school classrooms.

6- Some students with learning disabilities have difficulty completing school assignments or in personal organizational situations, such as bringing the right books to class or arriving on time.

7-Some students with learning difficulties experience hyperactivity or have a tendency to restlessness. Or they tend to wander around the classroom frequently. This problem may require medical interventions that require prescription drugs.

8- They have difficulty copying from the blackboard or doing other material copying assignments or tasks, which is a sign that they have a learning disability.

Learning disabilities are usually manifested by the following symptoms.

• Delay in speech and pronunciation,

• Difficulty finding words when naming something,

• Having a vocabulary less than their age,

• If he has difficulty with predicates, ie basic words (to go, to give, to take, etc.)

• If the syllables are changing their places

• Difficulty in listening and watching,

• Difficulty in learning the relationship between sound and letter,

• Difficulty understanding ambiguous (rhymed) words,

• Difficulty learning colors, numbers and letters,

• Having difficulty in drawing especially geometric shapes in lessons,

• If they have attention and focus problems,

• Difficulty in finding directions and confusing directions,

• Difficulty in watching and doing daily work,

• Difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships with friends,

• If time and space problems are experienced,

• If the hand preference is not clear, If the hand preference is still not clear while writing,

• If there is an incorrect holding of the pen while writing,

• Difficulty in games that require coordination (cycling, following the ball, etc.)

• If he has difficulty in making plans, Having difficulties in planning,

• Acting without thinking about everything,

• Frequent clumsiness and accidents,

Learning Disability Diagnosis Phase

It starts with the evaluation of the child, who has learning difficulties in the school-classroom stage, by the teacher after the learning problem is noticed. At this stage, it is necessary to evaluate what kind of problems the child has in learning, to what extent he can use his real performance and the difference between him and his peers. The teacher should understand the individual characteristics of the child, that is, the learning style, and use these features to overcome the child’s learning difficulties. If this special approach does not produce results in a child who is left behind, SLD should be considered.

How Does the Diagnostic Phase Happen?

1-Recognition of the learning problem by the teacher and/or family

2-Evaluation of individual learning characteristics by the teacher and the guidance teacher and making special planning for the child.

3- If there is still no result at this stage, medical evaluation of the child, investigation of medical conditions, especially vision and hearing, that may cause learning problems.

4- If there is no medical problem, referral to child psychiatry, diagnostic evaluations

5-Providing support trainings that can be given to the child at school with the help of a guidance research center

6-Starting Support Education with the application to the special education center and the preparation of an individual education plan

The important thing in this whole process is ‘DIFFERENCE’. The earlier the difficulty in learning is recognized and the earlier the individual support education starts, the quicker and shorter the catch up with peers. In our country, the diagnosis process starts at the earliest in the first grade at the literacy stage. Sometimes this process can hang up to the 2nd and 3rd Grade. However, the aim is to make “noticing” in the pre-school period. In the main class, some features can be observed before it comes into play. Speech delay, speech problems, inadequacy in sequencing skills, difficulties in games, inadequacy in skills such as jumping rope and cycling may be the first signs.

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