Special Needs or Just a Phase?

[Formerly Posted as Recognizing Special Needs]

–Delana H Stewart

Undiagnosed Learning Needs

Many times students in homeschool and national school environments have learning needs or special needs that go undiagnosed.  boy writing, special needs boyOftentimes, this is because those of us working with these students do not know the signs to look for.  We just think our child or student is going through a phase or is just being “difficult.”  Recently, I received an email about telling the signs of a stroke.  It amazed me that the lady herself and those around her had no idea that she had just suffered a stroke, resulting in her death just hours later.  Had they known a few simple things to do/ask, they may have saved her life.  While diagnosing learning needs is not a life or death matter, it may mean the difference between teaching and learning versus beating yourself up over failed attempts and numerous frustrating encounters for you and your student.  The good news is that parents—being closest to the situation—are often the first one to realize a need exists.

Discrepancy Between Ability and Performance

According to Paul Burden in his book Classroom Management, “a specific learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using spoken or written language.”  He goes on to explain how this can manifest itself as “an impaired ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.”  (Burden, 2006).  Just because a person has a learning disorder, does not mean they have low intelligence. Many have average or above average intelligence, yet a discrepancy lies between one’s ability and one’s actual performance in a classroom.  Burden groups learning disabilities into four main difficulty areas:

Learning and Academic Difficulties

*    Memory, attention, and organizational difficulties;

*       Perceiving, processing, remembering, and expressing information;

*       Reading difficulties;

*       Writing and expressing ideas in print;

Language and Communication Difficulties

*       May use immature speech patterns;

*       Experience language comprehension difficulties;

*       Have trouble expressing themselves;

*       May have difficulty learning new vocabulary, following directions, understanding questions, pronouncing words;

Perceptual and Motor Difficulties

*       May have difficulty recognizing, discriminating, and interpreting visual and auditory stimuli;

*       Difficulty copying from the blackboard or following multi-step directions;

*       Have trouble paying attention to relevant stimuli;

*       Get frustrated working on a task for a sustained period of time;

*      May also have difficulty with fine and gross motor movements;

Socio-Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties

*       Signs of a poor self-concept;

*       Task avoidance;

*       Social withdrawal, loneliness, frustration, and anxiety;

*       Fail to predict consequences;

*       Poor social skills and possibly fail to interpret social cues;


Meet Carly–a girl with severe autism who learned to communicate via typing at the age of 11 http://carlysvoice.com/home/carly-in-the-media/


See Also:  Additional articles on The Education Cafe about teaching kids with learning challenges/special needs–

Helping Students Be Overcomers

November 12, 2009


By: Delana H Stewart Many of us have children who are faced with one or more obstacles.  Their disability may be physical or it may be a learning disability.  There are also other obstacles children face like extreme shyness, size, weight, popularity, etc.  Those may not seem like a big deal in the scope of… [Read more…]

Educating Children With Asperger’s Syndrome

November 12, 2009


By: Delana H Stewart One thing that can make educating children overseas especially challenging is having one or more children with special needs.  The challenge can be even more frustrating when you do not know why your child acts a certain way.  You know that he/she is different, but you are struggling to find an… [Read more…]

Developmental Delay, Learning Disability, or Neurological Disorder

November 12, 2009


–Delana H. Stewart https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Education-Cafe/243238679083084 [Note: Are you struggling parenting a child with ADHD? See: Of Sheep and Shepherds.] Much misunderstanding, even among professionals, occurs because of an unclear use of terminology regarding developmental delays, learning disabilities, and neurological spectrum disorders. Many people use these terms interchangeably. Though overlap often appears among the three, distinct differences… [Read more…]

5 Pros and Cons for Homeschooling Older Adopted Children

February 6, 2013


–Delana H. Stewart The Education of Older Adoptees, Younger Adoptees, and Biological Children While this post will focus on the homeschooling of older adopted children, it may have some applications to biological children, foster children, and children who are adopted as infants. For the sake of this article, “older” adopted children will mean those that… [Read more…]

Resources and Curriculum for Educating the Right-Brained Learner

June 7, 2011


–by: Delana H Stewart, https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Education-Cafe/243238679083084 [Note: You may also be interested in the article on visual-spatial learners: https://theeducationcafe.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/snapshots-of-a-vsl-1/ or the article on internet/online learning https://theeducationcafe.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/types-of-curriculum-technological-learning/%5D  Many people with ADD, dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome, or Autism are right-brained learners (though a person can be a right-brained learner and not be diagnosed with one of these). Is your… [Read more…]

Homeschooling Children with ADD/ADHD and/or ODD

June 27, 2010


A compilation of resources by Delana H. Stewart New! Are you struggling with parenting a child with ADHD? See: Of Sheep and Shepherds. http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/articles/080302.htm This is an article by Ann Zeise (8/3/2002) called “Light and Learning.”  In this article, she discusses how light effects learning. She specifically mentions improvement in attitude. She discusses how fluorescent… [Read more…]

Special Needs

October 25, 2009


Follow links or download articles below OR click here to read articles on this blog about Special Needs. Note: If you think your child might have a learning disability or special need, please have him/her seen by a pediatrician and an educational psychologist. Other specialists like pediatric neurologists and/or pediatric psychiatrists may also need to… [Read more…]

2 thoughts on “Special Needs or Just a Phase?

  1. Pingback: What’s Happening in Delana’s World | Delana's World

  2. Pingback: Helping Students Be Overcomers | The Education Cafe

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