Special Education Disabilities, Disorders, & Syndromes Carol Landry-Webster Goddard College Fall 2011 - August 29, 2011 Packet 1
Disabilities, Disorders, & Syndromes Deﬁnitions from Webster’s DictionaryDisability - The condition of being physically ormentally impairedDisorder - to disturb the regular or normal functions ofSyndrome - a group of signs and symptoms that occurtogether and characterize a particular abnormality orcondition. 2
Things to know about learning disabilities, disorders, & syndromes Even though the word disability is widely used it should not be used with learning. It implies the lack of ability to learn when in reality it is need for a variation of instruction. Just as someone who needs a wheel chair and use of a ramp to get from point A to point B, a student with a learning disability needs alternative instruction or delivery of information to reach the goal. Disorder is a medical term and not a learning disability. Students with various disorders such as Autism, ADHD, or OCD do not have a learning disability. Their disorder hinders and disrupts their learning but is not classiﬁed as a disability. Syndromes are also medical terms and not learning disabilities. Students with syndromes and disorders are not put in the same category in the public school arena as children with learning disabilities. Students with learning disabilities are given a Individualized Educational Plan, tracked by special education teachers and students with disorders and syndromes that do not have a learning disability are given a 504 Plan tracked by the school nurse and the guidance department.
Brain DevelopmentEvery brain develops in an individual way, but one thing is true foreach brain, there are critical periods of sensitivity (Feldman, 2004)developing certain skills. If there is a disruption in thedevelopment of speciﬁc skills, abilities can be hindered. A fever at9 months can disrupt the normal development of the Wernicke’sArea of the brain and cause problems with speech and languagedevelopment later on (Feldman, 2004). The brain however can betaught to re-route those processes and acquire impaired skills insome instances. Not all disabilities are malleable however, it is bestto not make judgements on what can be accomplished for studentswith disabilities. What is most important is that students withdisabilities are supported and allowed space to develop.
Academic DisabilitiesAcademic Disabilities are disabilities that interfere with typical classroominstruction. The students with a disability may need added support toobtain and retain information and material in the classroom. Theprocesses involved with taking in information and communicatingunderstanding has multi layers and is complex. There are countlessreasons for impairment that don’t necessarily stem from cognitive ability.Academic disabilities require modiﬁcations to the content,instruction, and requirements of a classroom. Students that fallbehind but are able to utilize remediation and then maintain grade levelwork do not have an academic learning disability (Pierangelo, 1996). Disabilities associated with academics are: Speech, Reading, Writing, Math
Speech DisabilitiesThe centers of the brain that inﬂuence language understanding and ability tocommunicate are the Broca’s area and the Wernicke’s area. If there is disruption indevelopment in these areas of the brain a disability can occur. Students with speechand communication impairments need teachers to remember that speechdiﬃculties are not indication of low cognitive ability. Speech complex function andit is key to understand the nature of the individuals abilities and impairment toproperly support and teach that child how to enhance their learning experience. Various disabilities in speech can be deﬁned as Aphasia, Impaired Articulation, Stuttering, Fluency Disorder, Lanuage Delay, Expressive Language Disorder, Speciﬁc Language Impairment, Receptive Language Disorder, as well as others.
Reading DisabilitiesThe act of reading employs many skills and layers of comprehension. Students usesight, decoding, identiﬁcation skills, vocabulary, reasoning, and conceptunderstanding in order to ﬁnd meaning in a small passage. There are many areas forimpairment. Just as in speech, reading coordinates information from the broca’sarea and wernicke’s areas, as well as the angular gyrus and the visual cortex. Readingrequires three systems to properly understand; visual processing, auditoryprocessing, and semantic processing. If there is a break down in one of theprocessing a student will have diﬃculty meeting standard benchmarks in reading.Again it is important the teacher’s do not tie cognitive ability to reading ability. Reading Disabilities that could be the source of issue for students are not limited to just one impairment. A short list of reading impairments are: Dyslexia, Nonlinguistic Perceptual Deﬁcits, Phonological Alexia, Surface Alexia, Visual Magnocellular-deﬁcit, and Language-Based Disorder.
Writing DisabilitiesThe performance of writing requires the coordination of the same areas of thebrain that reading and speech require as well as the parietal lobe and motor cortex.As stated before with speech and reading development there are many places andareas of the writing process that can be impaired. It is important to look at thestrengths and weaknesses to determine where a student is on their own journey as awriter. Writing development is an individual process, The various diﬃculties students can have in developing their writing can be signiﬁed as Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Visual Processing Disorder, Language-Based Processing Disorder, Expressive Language Disorder, Phonological Disorder, as well as others that hinder the brain processes involved with articulation and physical act of writing.
Mathematics DisabilitiesMathematics and logical abilities are tied to the frontal lobe and parietal lobe.Research shows that 6% of students have “diﬃculty in processingmathematics” (Sousa, 2001.) The understanding of mathematical concepts takes theutilization of life experiences and knowledge of abstract theories. Our changingworld has been indicated as a possible cause for the decline in math skills andunderstanding. Disabilities associated with Mathematics are: Dyscalculia, Number Concept Diﬃculties, Memory Disorders, Visual- Spacial Disorders, and Procedural Disorders. Some Environmental causes have been cited such as, the Fear of Mathematics, and Poor Quality of Instruction.
Physical DisabilitiesPhysical Disabilities do not necessarily warrant specialeducation services. Students with physical disabilitiesthat do not require modiﬁcation of curriculum, deliveryof information, or requirements do not have a disabilitythat impacts their learning.
ADHD/ADD Attention Hyperactivity Deﬁcit Disorder/ Attention Deﬁcit DisorderADHD “is the current terminology used... to describe children, adolescence, andadults who display chornic, pervasive, and developmentally inapropreate patternsof inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity” Netherton, 1999, p. 98).ADHD is a widely know disorder, aﬀecting roughly 3% - 5% of the population. Thetypical person with ADHD is more commonly male. ADHD is a clinical diagnosis, that has possible educational and social impact. Theinability to concentrate or control impulsiveness can hinder the learning processand relationship development.Behavior modiﬁcation plans and classroom management styles can assist inallowing a child with ADHD to develop more appropriate strategies and executiveorganizational skills to better prepare for learning in the classroom setting.
EBD Emotional Behavioral Disability ADHD/ADD, ODD, CD, and various other disorders are under the umbrella of Emotion Behavioral Disabilities. Netherton uses the term Disruptive Behavioral Disorder to describe this umbrella. There are observable behaviors that qualify a person to be identiﬁed as EBD (Council For Exceptional Children, 2011.)• Person displays inappropriate social, emotional, and behavioral skills • Both internal and external behaviors can observed. • Internal signs - withdrawn, anxiety, and depression • External signs - acting out, aggressive, and disruptive• This behavior is consistent and occurs in more than one environment (school, home, and work.)
Conduct Disorder• This disorder is a display of disregard of others basic rights and the ramiﬁcations of such actions.• The “pattern is not selective and is exhibited n the home, at school, with peers, and in the child’s community” (Peirangelo, 1996, p. 184).• Conduct Disorder is characterized by exhibiting 3 or more of 25 diﬀerent behaviors (e.g. destruction of property, ﬁre-setting, physical cruety) (Netherton, 1999)
ODD Oppositional Deﬁance Disorder“Primary features of ODD include pattern ofnegativistic, deﬁant, noncompliant, and uncooperativebehaviors” (Netherton, 1999, p. 118).75% of children with ODD also carry the diagnosis ofADHD.ODD “is considered less serious then ConductDisorder because of the absence of behaviors whichviolate the basic rights of others” (Peirangelo, 1996, p.185).
PDD Pervasive Developmental DisorderPDD is a blanket term that is used to describe developmentalconditions that ﬁt under the Autism Spectrum umbrella.Autism Spectrum Disorder is the more accepted term used by“clinicians, parents, and support-advocacyorganizations” (Netherton, 1999, p. 76-77) to describe PDD.PDD is a developmental disorder that can impair verbal andnonverbal communication skills, social skills, and othercommunicative skills (Pierangelo, 1996).There is no clear deﬁnitive on the cognitive ability of people withPDD, the spectrum of abilities range from high to low cognitiveabilities (Netherton, 1999).
AD Autism DisorderAutism and PDD was originally diagnosed as schizophrenia(Peirangelo, 1996), but in 1943 L. Kanner coined the term AutisticAloneness is a word used when describing certain characteristicsof children with Autism. Another is the desire for sameness androutine.Autism is displayed as abnormal delay and functioning in the areasos social interactions, language communication, and symbolic play(Netherton, 1999).
Asperger’s Disorder and Infantile AutismAsperger’s Disorder was ﬁrst described in 1944 byAustrian Hans Asperger (Netherton, 1999), meanwhilein 1943 back the United States Leo Kanner describesInfantile Autism. Both descriptions are closely similarbut neither were compared until 1981 until Asperger’swork was translated into English. There is still a greatdeal of debate if these disorders are in fact the samedisorder (Peirangelo, 1996).There are facets and facets of characteristics that gointo the diagnosis of this particular Autism disorder.
Rett’s Disorder• A Neurolgical disorder that is in the PDD spectrum and displays Autistic-like behaviors and symptoms.• Rett’s Disorder is more common among females, can begin developing as early as infancy (Netherton, 1999).• This disorder is when a typically developing child begins to lose “previously acquired social, motor, and language skills” (Netherton, 1999, p. 90), also associated with “deceleration of head growth, which previously had been normal” (Netherton, 1999, p. 90).
Tourette’s SyndromeA genetic neurological disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome is associatedwith motor or vocal tics. Tics are deﬁned by the DSM-IV as “sudden, rapid, recurrent, nonrhythmic, stereotyped motor movement or vocalization” (Netherton, 1999, p. 156). There are various degrees of tics and there are numerous tic disorders. Tics associated with Tourette’s Syndrome can disrupt and hinder the learning process but it is not considered a learning disability.
ResourcesAnderson, W. (2008). Negotiating the special education maze: A guide for parents & teachers. Bethesda, MD:Woodbine House.Council For Exceptional Children. (2011). Coincil for exceptional children. Retrieved from http://cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm? Section=Behavior_Disorder_Emotional_DisturbanceFeldman, R. S. (2004). Child development. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall.Hultquist, A. M. (2006). Introduction to dyslexia for parents and professionals. London, , GBR: Jessica KingsleyPublishers.Netherton, S. D., Holmes, D. L., & Walker, C. E. (1999). Child and adolescent psychological disorders: Acomprehensive textbook. New York: Oxford University Press.Ong-Dean, C. (2009). Distinguishing disability: Parents, privilege, and special education. Chicago: University ofChicago Press.Pierangelo, R., & Jacoby, R. (1996). Parents complete special education guide: Tips, techniques, and materials forhelping your child succeed in school and life. West Nyack, N.Y: Center for Applied Research in Education.Smith, C. R., & Strick, L. W. (1997). Learning disabilities-- A to Z: A parents complete guide to learning disabilities frompreschool to adulthood. New York: Free Press.Sousa, D. A. (2001). How the special needs brain learns. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.Sperry, L. (2003). Handbook of diagnosis and treatment of DSM-IV-TR personality disorders. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.Tisdall, E. K., & Riddell, S. (2006). Policies on special needs education: Competing strategies and discourses.European Journal of Special Needs Education, 21(4), 363-379. doi:10.1080/08856250600956154