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Julie Kraft

Professor Anne McLaughlin


EDTR 107
26 June 2015
Journal 2: Learning Disability
I found the learning disability simulation to be much more difficult than I
originally imagined. When I first clicked on the simulation I was taken to a website
where it stated that I had only two minutes to write a five sentence paragraph; however, I
was not allowed to use the letters D, R, T, E, N, and S. It was very difficult to think of a
word, let alone a full sentence, without using any of those letters. Whenever I would try
and write a sentence using a letter that it said not to use it would make a loud buzzing
sound and say that the letter was not allowed. Then after a few seconds of thinking, a
message would pop up saying Cant you write and faster? If I dont write a full
sentence, it says, This is NOT a proper sentence, and then again saying, The clock is
ticking This continued throughout the two minutes, saying Really? and again, This
is NOT a proper sentence. Without being able to write a single full sentence the two
minutes finally passed and a message came up on the screen saying, This is how
students with learning disabilities feel when performing common, everyday activities in
class. Now you know.
This activity made me feel horrible. I am a college level student and I cant even
think of one sentence without using the letters D, R, T, E, N, or S. The thought of a
student not being able to complete a simple task must be very challenging. Not only does
their disability complicate things, but it must be compounded by teachers and others

telling them to hurry up. I can remember in middle and high school when we would have
a timed assignment, and not everyone finished. It makes me wonder if it is possible that
they may have had a learning disability? The constant reminder of failure during this
simulation really hurt my ego and made me wonder how anyone can function
academically with this sort of negative reinforcement. After doing this simulation three
times without being able to make the five-sentence paragraph, I asked my husband to try
it, and he too failed.
According to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a learning disability is defined as:
the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or
written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak,
read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations." (Center) This means that a child
with a learning disability may have trouble with all of the above abilities, or with only
some. In the 1998-99 school year, over 2.8 million children with learning disabilities
received special education and related services. (Smith, 138) With a total of about 46.9
million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the 50 states and
the District of Columbia (Ghedam) that means that approximately 6% of students had a
learning disability. Those statistics were from about fifteen years ago, so there may be a
difference in todays numbers.
There are many different types of learning disabilities but the two main
definitions are reading/learning disability, or mathematics/learning disability. The
simulation that I worked on was more based towards the reading/learning rather than the
mathematics. Even though the disability is called reading/learning, it can involve both
reading and writing involving language and communication. Students with a

reading/learning disability can even have difficulties with individual letters, like in the
simulation. The simulation was very difficult for me to do and I can see why it is so hard
for children with disabilities to advance in their schooling.
The most common causes of learning disabilities are genetics, medical conditions,
and environmental exposures. According to Mayo Clinic, Poor growth in the uterus
(severe intrauterine growth restriction), exposure to alcohol or drugs before being born,
and low birth weight are risk factors that have been linked with learning disorders.
(Childrens) Environmental conditions, such as exposure to lead paint, can also increase
the chances of having a learning disability. Children living in poor conditions are
threatened everyday by lead paint in old, unrenovated housing.
There are signs that can help parents and teachers detect learning disabilities, and
better help those affected by them. Early symptoms for a school-age child include:
easily loses or misplaces homework, school books or other items, has difficulty
understanding the concept of time, and has difficulty understanding and following
instructions. (Children) These are so-called red flags, that if seen in a child with poor
academic skills, may be an indication of a learning disability. At this point, a qualified
therapist should evaluate the child to see if, in fact, a disability is present. Left untreated,
a learning disability can cause many worse conditions: school-related anxiety, depression,
or low self-esteem.
Becoming a teacher is a dream of mine, and I know that going into a classroom I
will be challenged with a diverse selection of students, some who may have learning
disabilities. One of the beginning steps that I will take to ensure that all of my students
succeed will be to set up graphic organizers. Graphic organizers help children to see and

remember facts or events, which will help them succeed in their studies and
advancements in their education. Creating graphic organizers for basic functions, like
creating a sentence, may help my students better understand the concept when I verbally
explain it. I will have these charts not only for children with learning disabilities, but
everyone: its been proven that while some children learn best when they hear
information audibly, but others need to see it visually. Another form of teaching that I
plan on using in my classroom is mnemonics. Mnemonics are a learning strategy that
promotes remembering information by associating the first letters of an item in a list with
a word, sentence, or picture. (Smith 145) This will help my class with remembering
certain facts: such as using HOMES for remembering the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario,
Michigan, Erie, Superior. I will also measure and monitor each students individual
progress, to be able to understand where they need help and to keep their parents
informed of their growth. Keeping everyone informed on a students growth will ensure
that the child will make the best strides in their academic achievements. My goal as a
teacher is to help everyone pass and to help them succeed in everything they want to do.

References
"Children's Health." Learning Disorders: Know the Signs, How to Help. The Mayo
Clinic. Web. 28 June 2015.
"Center for Development and Learning." Center for Development and Learning.
Kennedy Krieger Institute. Web. 28 June 2015.
Ghedam, Bairu. "Public School Student, Staff, and Graduate Counts by State, School
Year 1999-2000." National Center for Education Statistics. U.S. Department of
Education, 18 May 2001. Web. 28 June 2015.
Smith, Deborah Deutsch., and Naomi Chowdhuri, Tyler. Introduction to Contemporary
Special Education: New Horizons. Boston: Pearson Education, 2014. Print.