Learning Disability IEP Help

Parents and teachers need to know how to write great IEPs for the student with a learning disability.  Your child with a learning disability can learn so much and make huge progress if he or she has the appropriate IEP goals, objectives, accommodations and support team.  When you have the right combination of IEP goals and support team, many students with learning disabilities can make two years of academic growth in one year.  At www.SeeMyIEP.com you can see what IEP goals students with learning disabilities have on their IEPs.

When we get a real IEP submitted by a parent we do not enter any identifying information into our database.  Rather we enter grade, primary disability (autism, behavior disorder, learning disability, etc.), and primary need area (reading, math, writing, behavior, etc.).  We also enter IEP goals, IEP objectives, IEP accommodations, and IEP services.  Then, when you become a member you can search the database to view other IEP goals, IEP accommodations, and IEP services written for other children with similar needs as your child.

What is a Learning Disability?

Learning Disabilities comprise the largest group of students with disabilities and about 48% of students with disabilities have a learning disability.  When a child has a learning disability it makes learning, retaining and understanding material much more difficult.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 is the federal definition of a learning disability.  It states, “Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.”

This definition of a learning disability is what states use when determining if a child qualifies  for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), eligible under the category learning disability (LD).  There is another widely used definition of a learning disability.  According to the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, learning disabilities are, “A heterogeneous group of disorders resulting in significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, and mathematical skills.  The Disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to a central nervous system dysfunction.  Learning disabilities are not primarily due to sensory or motor disorders, intellectual disorders, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. ”

Your child’s learning disability is not because he or she is too lazy, unmotivated, dumb, or just not trying hard enough.  It is real and it requires attention, special services, accommodations and support.

What may cause Learning Disabilities?

Various factors cause learning disabilities and it’s often difficult to identify just one cause or incident.  Many times the learning disability cause is unknown.  Often a combinations of factors are at play.  The main causes of learning disabilities include neurological causes, genetic causes, and environmental causes.

Neurological causes of learning disabilities are related to the idea that a learning disability is rooted in the central nervous system.  Thus, something within the structure of the brain is not working efficiently.  This could be due to brain injury, brain development, or brain structure.  There are functional MRI (fMRI) scans that researchers are doing that show different parts of the brain are not as active in students with learning disabilities.  However, these scans are expensive, have limited availability, and do not identify a cause.  The fMRI scans do help definitively diagnose the learning disability.

Genetics play a large factor in learning disabilities.  According to Dr. Larry Silver, in at least 50% of cases there is a family history (documented or suspected) of learning disabilities.

Environmental causes of learning disabilities could be related to factors that happened prior to birth such as maternal drug or alcohol use.  Sometimes there are incidents that happen during birth such as a loss of oxygen to the baby or other injuries during the birth process.  Medical conditions that occur after birth, such as Meningitis, can also be a culprit for possible learning difficulties.

What’s the best help for students with learning disabilities?

Most students with learning disabilities will learn the curriculum of the core state standards.  The primary difference with children with learning disabilities is they require reasonable accommodations and/ or specialized instruction.  One of the primary instructional practices for children with learning disabilities is direct, specialized instruction.  The steps of direct, specialized instruction include daily review, teacher presentation/modeling, teacher guided practice, independent student practice, positive reinforcement, summary, and monitoring.  There is another Direct Instruction Model that is a scripted program used to teach students with learning disabilities reading, writing, and math.

Strategies instruction is another important instructional practice for students with learning disabilities.  Many students with learning disabilities need direct instruction on how to learn.  There are great programs available.  Two that stand out are called Study Skills for School Success and the Learning Strategies Curriculum.  Anita Archer wrote the Study Skills for School Success and there are different versions for elementary and secondary students.  The Learning Strategies Curriculum was developed by educational researchers at the University of Kansas.  It presents a very structured, step by step teaching procedures related to academic and social learning strategies.  They developed a popular strategy that is often used in general education classrooms called the Content Enhancement Routines.

Are there basic goals for the IEP of a child with learning disabilities?

There are not standard or universal IEP goals for students with learning disabilities since students with learning disabilities are each unique and have varied needs.  All IEP goals are customized to the individual student’s priority educational needs and how they are functioning academically.  The best thing you can do to write good IEP goals is to make sure they are related to your child’s priority educational needs.  Below are some of the real IEP goals from the www.SeeMyIEP.com database from students with learning disabilities at various grade levels.  As a member you have access to ALL IEP goals and you can search for IEP goals by different criteria.

1) Student will use learned strategies to increase comprehension of reading selections-main ideas, supporting details, inferences, and chronological order of events with 80% accuracy.

 2) Student will use strategies to improve comprehension and fluency by self monitoring- rereading, checking context clues, asking and answering self-made questions, and summarizing with 80% accuracy.

 3) Given nonsense words, student will learn and apply the six syllable rules to decode unknown words (by breaking them up into syllables) with 95% accuracy.

 4) Given math problems, student will identify and name fractions, improper factions, or mixed numerals from physical representatives with 75% accuracy.

 5) Given math problems, student will compare fractions with like denominators with 75% accuracy.

6) Student will write a three sentence response to a writing prompt using appropriate mechanics 3 out of 5 times.

 7) Student will utilize the writing process when responding to a writing prompt 4 out of 5 times.

 8) Student will write a sentence using capitalization and end punctuation 4 out of 5 times.