LD Introduction

Defining LD and ADD

Reflection 1: Briefly describe any experiences you have had working with students with learning disabilities.

As we begin, lets define both LD and ADD.

  • LD A brain-based (reception/output) learning disability that interferes with language, memory and/or mathematical processes.
    • For example, a student has difficulty organizing thoughts to put into writing.
  • ADD - Attention deficit (distractive or hyperactive disorder) that generally produces behaviors that interfere with the cognitive processing of information.
    • For example, a student may have trouble learning because of inattention, procrastination, or the inability to focus or hold data in short-term memory.
  • While LD and ADD are considered separate issues, they overlap in several ways.
  • In general, when discussing the adults we teach, we will be addressing the entire group with either learning challenge.
Reflection 2: How are the definitions of LD and ADD described in this course different from what you may have heard before?

The Four Domains

Our students learn about us when they first enroll in our programs. We evaluate their skill level to start them at the appropriate place. We learn what they wish to achieve and gather background about previous educational experiences. We describe the program and its expectations and begin to set some realistic goals. Students are well-versed about our classes.

What welearn about our students, however, does not often happen with the same clarity. In fact, our greatest wealth of information is uncovered only after the adult student engages in our classes over a period of time. What we learn comes from our observations and insights and often in one-on-one sessions.

If a student enters class already aware of her LD, we can immediately begin to plan alternative teaching/learning strategies. For most students, we will learn just how challenging learning can be once they are directly engaged in class and come face to face with the issues that may have blocked success in the past.

To achieve success, there are four areas or domains we must understand. These are, especially for the adult learner with either an LD or ADD, the essential interwoven components of success. The four domains are:

  • - Skills attainment which describes how the brain learns and remembers through plasticity and consolidation.
  • - Emotional influences which can be carried forward in our memory, especially significant negative experiences which close the brain to learning.
  • - Management that regulates time, tasks, and mind.
  • - Motivation which feeds on the relevance and importance of our students work.

To better understand how the four domains work together, lets consider a more familiar example: reading. A successful reading process contains four essential ingredients (alphabetics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension) that allow for reading with understanding. Each skill is a part of the process. One missing or insufficient ingredient decreases the overall reading ability. For example, a student might apply phonetic sounding to a new word, and then use a context clue to determine its meaning before comprehending the whole.

In a similar way to reading, the four domains of skills attainment, emotional influences, management, and motivation work together to influence learning as shown in the graphic below:

  • Learning is most complete when these four ingredients are all present. One missing or insufficiently mastered area limits learning.
  • A student who realizes how the four domains interconnect might say, I have a strategy to learn the new material. I am not letting frustration stop me. I am finding time to study daily, and I plan a weekly goal to achieve.

Prev Next

Developed by Adult Basic Skills Professional Develoment (ABSPD), Reich College of Education, Appalachian State University
Funded by NC Community College System Basic Skills, Raleigh, NC - Copyright © 2011, ABSP