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Chapter 10

Psychology 2042A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Speech Disorder, Language Processing In The Brain, Reading Disability

Course Code
Richard Brown

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Psych 2042A
Chapter 10: Language and Learning Disabilities
language and learning disorders have had increasing impact on individual lives
because of escalating demands for certain kinds of skills and learning in our industrial
and technologically sophisticated world.
these disabilities are associated with many known medical, genetic and behavioural
assumed that disturbances occur relatively early and is not readily explained by social
A Bit of History: Unexpected Disabilities, Unmet Needs
two major themes have left a strong mark on the field
one is scientific and clinical interest in understanding individuals who display
specific deficits that appear discrepant with their intelligence or other abilities
the other is an emphasis on the need to improve services to young people
exhibiting such deficits
in the latter 1880s, Broca described the inability of his adult patients to express
themselves verbally while maintaining the capacity to comprehend what other said
soon after, Wernicke documented brain lesions in patients who had problems in
understanding language but otherwise did not exhibit language and cognitive
brain damage in adults was linked to behavioural symptoms such as specific speech
problems, learning difficulties, and inattention
mid-1900s, several kinds of interventions were recommended
1963 - representatives from several organizations met at a symposium sponsored by
the Fund for Perceptually Handicapped Children.
the children of their concern exhibited a variety of deficiencies that were related to
neurological dysfunction
conferees organized into what is today called the Learning Disabilities Association
of America
Definitional Concerns
to understand the problems of definition we turns to the Education for All
Handicapped Children Act of 1975
this has been reentitled the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
definition: 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, in which the disorder may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen,
think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.
the term includes conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain
dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia
the term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily
the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, or mental retardation, or
emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage
general definition that refers to disorder in basic psychological processes

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the definition excludes children whose disabilities are due to several factors that could
be expected to cause learning problems.
may be also difficult to establish underachievement due to emotional disturbance, lack
of motivation or cultural/economic disadvantage.
definitional problems of learning/language disabilities have led to different prevalence
rates, incomparability of groups chosen for research purposes, and varying standards
to determine whether children will receive special education services.
Identifying Specific Disabilities
there is a lack of agreed-upon criteria to identify learning disabilities
most often they have not targeted underlying psychological processes
IQ-achievement discrepancy
common way to identify disabilities has been by a discrepancy between the
individualʼs intellectual ability and specific achievement level
assumed that when a specific disability exists, performance of measures of
general ability (IQ tests) will exceed performance of achievement tests of the
hypothesized specific impairment
a discrepancy of two or more standard deviations between IQ scores and
achievement test scores often is employed. (small differences have been
Below average achievement
one way of identifying a youth with a disability is that they are performing below
the expected grade level in at least one academic area
general problem with this method of identification is that a large discrepancy is
more serious for a younger than an older child: being 2 years behind is more
serious for a 3rd grader than a 6th grader
poor achievement can also be identified by comparing the childʼs performance
with those peers of the same age on standardized tests of language, reading,
writing, and arithmetic (this varies from school districts and researchers)
criterion is usually set to the range of one to two standard deviations below
the mean on standardized tests
IQ achievement discrepancy have been challenged in numerous ways
argued that IQ tests rely strongly on language abilities, so that overall
intelligence may be underestimated in children with language or learning
no way to discriminate between deficits of a child and of poor instruction
question about exclusion of children considered to be ʻslow learnersʼ, that is,
for whom a discrepancy is not found
nonetheless, intelligence often is considered by requiring that the child with low
achievement also exhibits average intelligence, or an IQ that does not fall
below the score that typically defines mental retardation (about 70)
Response to Intervention (RTI)
an approach in determining disability depends on exposing children to
intervention prior to diagnosing them with a disability
rationale is that children whose response to valid intervention is poorer than
that of their peers can be identified as having a learning disability

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this approach includes all children and eliminates poor instruction as a cause of
the childʼs performance
RTI approach moves children though a series of interventions of increasing
those children who do not respond to the more intensive interventions can
be labelled with learning disabilities can is eligible for special educational
limitations of RTI: some view it as replacing identification of learning disabilities
by IQ-achievement discrepancy; others see it as only one component of a
broader evaluation
concern that including all students shifts the conceptualization of LD as a
specific disability to a more general disability of low achievement.
Language Disabilities
study and treatment of language impairments has been both independent and
integrated with the study and treatment of ʻlearning disabilitiesʼ - reading, writing, and
language disabilities have historically been known as aphasia, a term that means loss
of language due to brain damage or dysfunction
but when the disability is a developmental matter, aphasia, does not really fit
terms have been used such as specific language impairment (LI/SLI), specific
language disabilities, or language disorders
Normal Language Development
is a system of communication based on sounds that are combined into words and
sentences to represent experience and carry meaning
basic components of language include
phonology - sounds of language and combining them (basic sounds are called
alphabet has 26 letters, which singly or in combinations are called
morphology - formation of words with prefixes and suffixes to give meaning
syntax - grammar; grammar is composed of morphology and syntax
semantics - meanings in language
pragmatics - use of language in specific contexts
Receptive language has to do with the comprehension of messages sent by
others - this is usually acquired earlier than expression
Expressive language concerns the production of language, that is, sending
during the first year, infants can distinguish and produce sounds that are not part of
the native language that surrounds them
innate ability to process language sounds is shaped through experience
by 2 years of age, most children have gone from saying single words to two-word
utterances, to longer strings of words set in meaningful phrases or sentences
parents of 3 year olds perceive that they are talking with someone who is no longer
a ʻbabyʼ - infancy as ʻincapable of speechʼ, usually over by age 2
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