Saturday, 5 October 2013

Difference between slow learner and learning disability

A slow learner is a child of below average intelligence, whose thinking skills have developed significantly more slowly than the norm for his/her age. This child will go through the same basic developmental stages as other children, but will do so at a significantly slower rate.

On the other hand, a child with specific learning disability, is one of average or above average intelligence who has specific difficulties which can make learning very difficult. There may be deficits in any of the basic central nervous system functions, which have to do with the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical abilities ie attention, memory, language, auditory and visual perception, motor coordination and planning, spatial orientation, impulse control and sequencing. In short, if there is a discrepancy between the child's potential and actual achievement.

Characteristics of a Slow Learner

1. Developmental
-- may have immature language patterns or speech problems

2. Social
-- poor judgement, immature social behaviour, prefers company of younger children

3. Personal
-- frustration, aggression, anxiety

4. Academic
-- may show proficiency with particular tasks rather than a subject areas, poor memory, difficulties understanding several steps in a task

5. Learning
-- needs to have new information linked to old, difficulties transferring information learned in one situation to other situations

Characteristics of Learning Disabled

1. Academic
-reading :- confuses similar words and letters, loses place, repeats words, does not read fluently, persists in using fingers to follow along, does not like to read

-spelling :- uses incorrect order of letters in words, it has difficulty of associating correct sound with appropriate letter, reverses letters

2. Mathematics
-- has difficulty associating number with symbol, cannot remember number facts, confuses columns and spacing, has difficulties with story problems, has difficulty comprehending maths concepts

3. Physical
-- perceptual motor difficulties
-- visual perception difficulties
-- poor visual decoding
-- general coordination deficits (balance, eye -- hand)
-- poor auditory memory (difficulty following sequence of directions)
-- attention deficit
-- mixed dominance (hand, foot, eye)
-- lack of adequate eye movement control

4. Psychological
-- emotional instability (violent reactions)
-- difficulty learning by ordinary methods
-- low social acceptance (disturbed peer relations)
-- low self-concept/self-esteem
-- general disorganization (time and actions)

5. Social/emotional/behavioral

-- hyperactivity (gross, noisy, constant movements)
-- hypo activity (quiet, nervous, fidgety)
-- impassivity
-- poor concentration span (dis tractability)
-- low frustration tolerance
-- emotional lability (highs and lows)
-- seems paradoxical (may remember past events in minute detail is I cannot remember number facts and spelling just learnt, may build the most intricate models that may be so clumsy s/he trips over his/her feet, make other most fanciful stories start cannot sit still long enough to hear one)

There are similarities between the two groups e.g. errors in number and letter production, reading errors, behavioral aspects, but the differences are what influence the type of instruction used.

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