Learning Disabled Childrenby Waln Brown, Sandra Dykes
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At his Preschool Child Development Center, five-year-old Brian will not remain quiet or still during rest period. While the other children are napping, Brian acts as though he has "ants in his pants." At home, Brian is unable to tie his own shoes, is slow at buttoning his shirt, is clumsy and seems to stumble over his own feet. He also throws violent temper-tantrums when he does not get what he wants. Brian's overall growth displays serious limitations in hand-eye coordination, balance, language development and emotional maturity. As is the case with most learning disabled children, Brian also displays some very clear strengths, such as his interest in reading. This case history hints at only a few of the many day-to-day frustrations that face learning disabled children, their families and childcare professionals.
During the 1940s, early research information on children like Brian began to reach teachers, psychologists, physicians, speech therapists and other professionals. By the late 1950s, special education programs for mental retarded, deaf, blind, cerebral-palsied, speech-impaired and emotionally troubled youth spread widely throughout the nation's educational system. Schools and parents became aware of the many children who did not learn as easily as their classmates did. These children, however, did not fit into any of the known categories, such as those listed above. Instead, children with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed learning disabilities were labeled "clumsy," "lazy," "dull" and "in need of discipline." Many professionals believed, mistakenly, that these children would outgrow their conditions.
In 1964, a group of parents, teachers and other concerned citizens formed the National Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (ACLD). Other groups like ACLD also began to form and today exist throughout the United States. With the help of these groups, the many aspects of learning disabilities are gaining recognition and, as a result, parents, teachers and learning-disabled individuals can now get information and support.
Any effort to improve the quality of life for learning disabled children is strengthened by early detection and treatment at home, at school and in the community. This publication provides important information about how to identify, cope with and help learning disabled children. Its purpose is to promote the successful blending of learning disabled children into the mainstream of society.
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