Learning Disabilities and

Inclusion in the Classroom

Ashley, Sarah-May, Emily
❖ Learning disabilities are becoming more and more
prominent in the 21st century classroom.
❖ It is important, as new teachers, to understand the
basics about what a learning disability is, how it is
dealt with in the
classrooms, the resources
used to support learning
disabled children, and
what is used to encourage
success in an equitable
classroom environment.
What is a Learning Disability?
What are Learning Disabilities?
❖ Special needs and learning disabilities in
students are not necessarily the same thing.
❖ Special needs students are defined as students
with mild to severe disabilities and/or students
that are talented or gifted.
❖ In comparison students with learning disabilities
are students with “specific neurological
disorders that affect the way a person stores,
understands, retrieves and/or communicates
Disorders of Learning Disabilities
❖ There are a number of different kinds of
disorders that can be displayed in
students with Learning Disabilities.
❖ Students tend to display difficulty with
one or two skills learned in school
❖ Students with learning disabilities can be
difficult to diagnose and create a plan
for because no two students are exactly
alike and there tend to be other factors
that can affect a student's ability to
Disorders of Learning Disabilities (cont.)

● Commonly, some learning disabilities can be due to
genetic or neurobiological factors or injuries. Also
learning disabilities are lifelong.
● As a teacher, it is important to understand and work with
the student the best we can, and there are certain
programs in schools to work with students with learning
● The most common program is called the Individualized
Program Plan or IPP. This program is important in schools
for students with learning disabilities.
Key Components of Programming
Key Components of Programming

9 Guiding Principles:

1. Collaboration
2. Meaningful Parental Involvement
3. Identification and Assessment
4. Ongoing Assessment
5. Individualized Program Plans
6. Transition Planning
7. Self-Advocacy http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-some-common-learning-disabilities.htm#didyou
8. Accommodations
9. Instruction

❖ It is important that the student is involved in all
aspects of the programming
❖ There needs to be collaboration between school personnel,
parents, and students in order for any progress to be

Meaningful Parent Involvement

❖ Having the parent(s) involved enhances the student’s
ability to succeed and gives the parent(s) peace of mind
about the educational programming set in place for their
❖ With the parent(s) involved the programming can develop
collaboration between the home and the school.
Identification and Assessment

❖ It is important that all educational supports are
available to the student and follow a set plan.
❖ Assessment needs to be constant and consistent.
❖ Using a team approach to the assessing provides a
plethora of information that contributes toward diagnosis
and development of IPP’s(Individualized Program Plans).
Ongoing Assessment

❖ In addition to the assessment process being constant and
consistent; it is important that the student is involved.
❖ Student involvement in this process contributes to the
development of self-advocacy skills.
Individualized Program Plans (IPP)

❖ Outlines the developing programs that address the
specific needs of the student.
❖ Through development, implementation, and monitoring of
the student’s IPP’s; all components of the programming
❖ Provides short term and long term planning.
❖ Instructional changes are determined based on the
effectiveness of each accommodation.
Transition Planning

❖ Through assessment, effective transitions are planned,
collaborated and implemented.


❖ Defined as acting on one’s own behalf.
❖ All aspects of programming must support the development
of self-advocacy skills.


❖ Is a change or alteration to what is considered the norm
of a student’s behaviour in the classroom.
❖ Balance needs to be considered between accommodations and
other instructional components.
❖ To be included in the IPP process.
❖ Based on students strengths and needs.
❖ Should be determined through a collaborative process and
monitored for effectiveness.

❖ Instruction will vary depending on the individual
learning issues.
❖ Should be conducted based on the framework of the IPP’s
and take into consideration the student’s strengths and
❖ Should contain a combination of direct and strategic
Codes for Special Education
Codes for Special Education

❖ Assigned to students who require special educational
➢ Provides an equitable chance for success.
❖ A code can be given to a student anytime in their
educational career, from ECS to K-12.
➢ The school is able to assign a special code when they are provided
with proper documentation of a disability or disorder
❖ School boards report the assignment of codes to the
Alberta government and education sector to provide
demographic feedback.
➢ This provides the government the opportunity to make educational
changes to better the system (i.e. new inclusion policies).
Codes for Special Education Contd.

❖ The government and school boards follow the “Special
Education Coding Criteria 2016/2017” handbook.
❖ The handbook lays out 18 separate codes that each
represent something unique.
➢ The 18 codes are broken up into 2 parts: mild/ moderate including
gifted and talented for ECS and grades K-12, and severe for ECS and
grades K-12
❖ The codes range from cognitive to physical disabilities.
❖ We are focusing on code 54
Code 54- Learning Disability

❖ Code 54 is only found for grades 1-12, because a learning
disability does not generally present itself for
diagnosis earlier than grade 1.
❖ The “Special Education Coding Criteria 2016/2017” states:
➢ Learning disabilities affect the acquisition, organization,
retention, understanding, or use of verbal or nonverbal information.
➢ The DSM-5 uses the term “Specific learning disorder” to identify
exactly what kind of learning disability is shown.
➢ A student must be diagnosed by a professional physician to receive
any sort of special coding.
Code 54- Learning Disability Contd.
❖ According to code 54 in the SECC 2016/2017:
➢ Learning disabilities range in severity (mild, moderate, or severe).
➢ These may result in difficulties in one or more educational area:
■ oral language (e.g., listening, speaking, understanding);
■ reading (e.g., decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition,
■ written language (e.g., spelling and written expression);
■ mathematics (e.g., computation, problem solving) .
❖ It is essential to support individuals with learning
disabilities by having interventions that are appropriate
for the student’s specific needs.
➢ At the very least, the code means the provision of: specific skill
instruction, accommodations, compensatory strategies, and
self-advocacy skills.
Number of Children/
Students with Special
Education Needs- By
Special Education Code
❖ There are over
20,000 students
registered with code
54 each school year
in the province.
❖ Between 2010-2015,
there has been over
100,000 students
registered under
code 54 with a
learning disability
Individualized Program Plan- IPP
Individualized Program Plan (IPP)
❖ After a code is given to a student, the parents and
school personnel (teachers, support staff,
administration) need to create an IPP.
➢ This will promote a successful student, by providing certain
accommodations and mutual understandings for each individual student.
❖ The IPP is completely individually made for each student,
based on the differing needs of each student.
➢ Every child is unique and will need a variety of different supports
that are dependant on things like learning styles, type of learning
disability, self-esteem levels, etc.
➢ No two IPPs are exactly the same.
❖ An IPP is usually created at the beginning of the school
➢ There is flexibility for students who are diagnosed part way through
the year. They are developed as they may be needed.
Individualized Program Plan (IPP) Contd.

❖ An IPP outlines many things:
➢ The specific educational needs of individual learners
➢ The collaboration between students, parents, teachers and other staff
who work with the student
➢ The monitoring and evaluation of a student’s progress and specialized
➢ The communication of students growth and progress with all adults
➢ a summary of the individualized goals and objectives that a student
will work towards during a school year
➢ a summary of accommodations that will help the student learn more
➢ an ongoing record to ensure continuity of programming
➢ a guide for transition planning.
Parts of an IPP
❖ According to the “Individualized Program Planning Guide”
from Alberta Education, an IPP should include:

➢ assessment data (diagnostic assessment data used to determine special
education programming and services)
➢ current level of performance and achievement
➢ identification of strengths and areas of need
➢ measurable goals and objectives
➢ procedures for evaluating student progress
➢ identification of coordinated support services

➢ relevant medical information
➢ required classroom accommodations
➢ transition plans
➢ formal review of progress at regularly scheduled reporting periods
➢ year-end summary
➢ parent signature to indicate informed consent.
IPP and Inclusion

❖ As defined by Alberta Education, inclusion is a way of
thinking and acting that demonstrates universal
acceptance and promotes a sense of belonging for all
❖ As a teacher with students who have learning
disabilities, you need to create a non-threatening and
inclusive classroom environment.
➢ It is important to create an inclusive and tolerant environment so
that each student can prosper. Regardless of abilities.
❖ Having an IPP allows every student to have equitable
opportunities to learn and succeed, however they need to.
Classroom Communities and Support
Caring Classroom Environment

❖ It is important that a child isn’t “labelled” as bad, or
troubled because he/she has a learning disability.
➢ It is important that as a
teacher, you build a safe
environment and a caring
classroom community where your
students are tolerant of
diversities within the
classroom and differing
learning styles.
■ http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/i

Who is in the Support Group?

❖ It is important for their to be a large support group for
students with learning disabilities consisting of: the
teacher, support staff, administration, other teachers,
other students, family, etc.
❖ An extensive support group promotes good self-esteem.
➢ This allows the child to continuously strive to keep learning,
instead of shutting down like so many students do.
❖ It really takes a village to raise a child…

Personal Experience…

❖ Ashley’s practicum placement…
➢ Learning disability with reading
➢ Non-threatening and inclusive classroom environment
➢ Student-student support
➢ Precision reading, sight words, group reading
❖ This is the most important part of inclusion for me,
because if a student can’t do something with confidence,
then they won’t do it at all- which can cause more
problems to arise.

ADHD is a learning disability.

The main symptoms of ADHD can affect learning.
But it’s not what special education law calls
a “specific learning disability.”

Learning and attention issues can
run in families.

Researchers don’t know the exact role of
genetics. But learning and attention issues do
run in families. About 2 out 5 kids with
dyslexia, for example, have a sibling with
reading issues, too.

Learning and attention issues are
brain-based issues.

Learning and attention issues are neurological
issues—meaning they’re based in the brain.
They’re not caused by laziness. And kids with
learning and attention issues aren’t
misbehaving on purpose.

People with learning and attention
issues have low IQs.

Having learning and attention issues is not a
sign of low intelligence. In fact, kids with
learning and attention issues typically have
average or above-average intelligence. Yes,
learning and attention issues are based in the
brain. But they’re not related to IQ. The
brain relationship is about how people with
learning and attention issues process

Learning disabilities in math are
also known as dyslexia.

It’s true that some kids have trouble learning
math because of dyslexia. However, learning
disabilities specific to math are referred to
as dyscalculia.

More boys than girls are diagnosed
with learning and attention

More boys than girls are receiving special
education services in school for learning and
attention issues. This doesn’t necessarily
mean, though, that learning and attention
issues are more common in boys. Girls just may
be less likely than boys to be diagnosed.

Kids outgrow learning and
attention issues.

Learning and attention issues don’t go away
as kids get older. But that doesn’t mean these
issues are a recipe for failure. Kids with
learning and attention issues can have pockets
of strengths that other kids don’t. And they
can find ways to build on their strengths to
make up for weaker skills.

Learning disabilities and ADHD
often co-occur.

Nearly one-third of kids with learning
disabilities also have ADHD. Kids with ADHD
also often struggle with executive functioning

Learning disabilities can be
treated with medication.

There are no proven medical treatments for
learning disabilities. Medication can,
however, be a treatment option for ADHD or
mental health issues.

Brain scans can help diagnose
learning disabilities.

Brains scans, also known as MRIs, can’t
diagnose learning and attention issues.
However, they are helping experts learn more
about learning and attention issues.
❖ In the 21st century, learning disabilities are increasingly known and
accepted in society.
➢ This has shaped the ways in which education and the curriculum is approached,
giving more freedom.
➢ The awareness of such needs has shaped the
“Teaching Quality Standard” for Alberta
teachers, changing the ways in which we deal
with students and their needs.
❖ There are a wide range of needs associated
with learning disabilities- this contributes
to the many variables and diversities that a
teacher has to cope with.
➢ The context in which students live and learn
affect what we teach and how we teach it.
❖ It is important to have basic knowledge of this contemporary issue,
that affects over 20,000 students each year in Alberta.
- Learning Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2017, from
- Diverse Learning Needs | Meeting the Needs of each Student. (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2017, from
-Official Definition of Learning Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2017, from
-Inclusive Education | What is Inclusion? (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2017, from
-Inclusive Education Library. (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2017, from http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/ieptLibrary/index.html
-Instructional Supports | Instructional Supports. (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2017, from
-Alexander, J. (2003). The Learning Team- A Handbook for Parents of Children with Special Needs. Edmonton, AB: Alberta
Education. doi:https://education.alberta.ca/media/3531893/learning-team-handbook-for-parents.pdf
-Tungland, M. (Ed.). (2002). Unlocking Potential: Key Components of Programming for Students with Learning Disabilities.
Edmonton, AB: Alberta Learning.
Bibliography Contd.

-Individualized Program Planning. (2006). Edmonton, AB: Alberta Education.
-Special Education Coding Criteria 2016/2017. (2016). Edmonton, AB: Alberta Education.
-Mauro, T. (n.d.). Special Needs Children Cover an Array of Diagnoses. Retrieved June 04, 2017, from
- (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2017, from https://teach.com/what-is-special-education/