Based on the Eurostat numbers between 10 and 13 million youngsters and a total of 51 and 61 million of citizens in Europe are affected by specific learning differences. This big part of population everyday navigates through life in a largely non-‘dys’ friendly world.
Logopsycom joined All In project to share our expertise in innovative approach to learning disorders and importance of raising awareness of challenges they cause during working with youngsters. As there is a big chance that youth workers are about to meet such individuals during their projects, we want to show how to make their learning experience a bit easier by adapting the training material to their needs.
First things first – let’s define what do we mean by “specific learning disorders”. They can be described as a set of disorders that relate to have difficulty learning and developing certain skills. They are called specific learning disorders because they don’t stand for another condition like an intellectual disorder or global developmental delay and are not related to any obvious environmental cause. It is very important to keep in mind when talking about learning disorders is that they are NOT due to lack of intelligence or desire to learn and work.
Learning disorders are usually diagnosed during school-aged years when child skill can be assessed. Despite efforts to raise awareness and training for the appropriate staffs (teachers, trainers, educators) there are still many countries where recognition and diagnosis process is very difficult and not applied in life. This may cause perfectly capable youngster to fail or quit school or to be reoriented in direction that are not suitable for their condition (such as most of the VET orientation).
And here are some of the most recognized learning disorders:
Dylexia affects oral and written communication. People with this specific learning disorder have troubles with identifying letters/words which results in slow, inaccurate and effortful reading. Dyslexia can also cause problems with spelling because person may add or omit some letters. Individuals have may also problems with understanding what they have read.
Dysgraphia describes having trouble with writing. Specifically, poor spelling, difficulty with grammar and often problems with handwriting. Individuals with dysgraphia may mix print and cursive writing, misuse upper or lowercase letters. Putting thoughts on paper may also be a challenge for them.
Dyspraxia is a disorder that is characterized by difficulty in muscle control (including eye control), which causes problems with movement and coordination, language and speech, and can affect learning. Individuals with dyspraxia find time management and organization very challenging.
Logopsycom experience shows with the right methods and educational techniques individuals can master all life necessary skills. They often benefit from small modifications in normal instructions that take their disorder into account. Below we present some that might be useful during training sessions in your organization:
- While preparing training and educational materials use plain font with even spacing like ex. Arial, Comic Sans, Century Gothic, Verdana.
- Make sure that photocopy materials have appropriate thickness to prevent other side to show through. It will ease up reading.
- As individuals with learning disorders have difficulties with memory, verbally presented information may not be effectively retained. You can support the material with easy to follow checklists.
- Visual support is always a benefit for any kind of material. Consider graphic organizers for different kinds of topics or usage of word maps to present ‘the whole picture’.
- While preparing assessment trainers should consider some alternatives for written assignments for example role playing, graphic presentation, oral test.
Following famous saying “where there’s a will there’s a way” we encourage all youth workers to observe how their students are absorbing the material during the training to make sure that everybody is on the same page.
[This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.]