Students With Reading Disabilities Term Paper

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Disabilities

Students With Reading Disabilities

Learning disabilities (LD) are a group of varying disorders that have a negative impact on learning. They may affect one's ability to speak, listen, think, read, write, spell, or compute. Insomuch, the most prevalent LD is in the area of reading in which close to half of secondary students with LD perform more than three grade levels below their enrolled grade in essential academic skills (45% in reading, 44% in math) (NCLD, 2009). Currently, 2.4 million students are diagnosed with LD, and they receive special education services in schools, thus representing 41% of all students receiving special education. Chiefly, reading disabilities are life long; however, the effects may be mitigated to support learning, living, and earning, particularly when identified early and dealt with effectively (NCLD, 2009).

High School: Developmental Stage

Adolescent years are fraught with many hormonal changes that affect behaviors, attitudes, and academics. As noted in Exhibit A, high school students progress through primarily three developmental stages between the ages of 12-19 years of age. Such dynamic variables present greater challenges when the adolescent has a learning disability in reading. Reading literacy is derived from success language acquisition that occurs from birth. This language acquisition process sets the stage for reading success. Insomuch, a child's environment, whether internal or external, is not conducive for the process to occur, a learning disability will occur.

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TOPIC: Term Paper on Students With Reading Disabilities Assignment

Children must learn basic phonemes, graphemes, and morphemes as a basis for reading application. Phonemes are sounds; graphemes are symbols; and morphemes are meaningful word units. Therefore, phonographic (or graphophonic) refers to the sound-symbol system of the English language. In spoken language, sounds blend in what the ancient Greeks called a "river of sound" (Savage, 2007). Hence, this river of sound flourishes during the language acquisition process, thus embedding contextual clues to develop reading comprehension. Savage (2007) posits, "A child's level of phonemic awareness on entering school is widely held to be the strongest single determinant of the success that she or he will experience in learning to read -- or conversely, the likelihood that she or he will fail." Therefore, research demonstrates that language acquisition with phonemic awareness is highly related to learning to read and an accurate predictor of reading success.

If children do not learn to understand and use language, to read and write, to calculate and reason mathematically, to solve problems, and to communicate their ideas and perspectives, their opportunities for a fulfilling and rewarding life are seriously compromised. Hence, learning to read is a relatively lengthy process that begins before children enter formal schooling. Children who receive stimulating oral language and literacy experiences from birth onward appear to have an edge when it comes to vocabulary development, developing a general awareness of print and literacy concepts, understanding and the goals of reading. If young children are read to, they become exposed in interesting and entertaining ways to the sounds of our language. Oral language and literacy interactions open the doors to the concepts of rhyming and alliteration and to word and language play that builds the foundation for phonemic awareness -- the critical understanding that the syllables and words that are spoken are made up of small segments of sound (phonemes). Vocabulary and oral comprehension abilities are facilitated substantially by rich oral language interactions with adults that might occur spontaneously in conversations and in shared picture book reading (Hock, 2003).

However, the experiences that help develop vocabulary and general language and conceptual skills in preschoolers are different from the experiences that develop specific types of knowledge necessary to read, including knowledge about print, phonemic awareness, and spelling. Moreover, such skills need to be systematically, depending upon the level of the child's background knowledge, and explicitly taught. Preschool children who can recognize and discriminate letters of the alphabet are typically from homes in which materials such as magnetized letters and alphabet name books are present and are the source of teaching interactions with parents (Horowitz, 2006). Clearly, these children will have less to learn when they enter kindergarten. The learning of letter names is also important because the names of many letters contain the sounds they most often represent. With this knowledge, the child is oriented to what is termed "the alphabetic principle" -- a principle that explains how sounds of speech (phonemes) become associated with letters of the alphabet (phonics) (Savage, 2007). This principle stands at the core of learning and applying phonics skills to print.

Ultimately, children's ability to comprehend what they listen to and what they read is inextricably linked to the depth of their background knowledge. Very young children who are provided opportunities to learn, think, and talk about new areas of knowledge will gain much more from the reading process. With understanding comes the desire to read more. Thus, ensuring that reading practice and the development of new vocabulary takes place. Through these early interactions and the systematic exposure to language and literacy concepts provided by parents, caregivers, and teachers, skilled readers learn to apply phonemic and phonics skills rapidly and accurately (Hock, 2003). Children that practice reading develop fluency, automaticity, and the ability to read with expression, and to apply comprehension strategies to what they are reading to facilitate understanding. It all starts very early, with those initial language and literacy interactions that expose the child to the structure of language and how print works.

In essence, children who are likely to have difficulties learning to read can be readily observed in the initial stages of their literacy development. The average middle class child is exposed to approximately 500,000 words by kindergarten; an economically disadvantaged child is exposed to half as many, at best (Horowitz, 2006). Insomuch, students with reading disabilities approach the reading of words and text in a laborious manner, demonstrating difficulties linking sounds (phonemes) to letters and letter patterns. Their reading is hesitant and characterized by frequent starts, stops, and mispronunciations. Comprehension of the material being read is usually extremely poor.

However, it is often not because he or she is not smart enough. In fact, many children who have difficulty learning to read are bright and motivated to learn to read, at least initially. Their difficulties understanding what they have read occur because it takes far too long to read words, leaving little energy for remembering and comprehending what was read (Hock, 2003). Unfortunately, the slow and inaccurate reading of words cannot be improved in any appreciable way by using the context of what is read to help pronounce the words correctly. Consequently, while the fundamental purpose of reading is to derive meaning from print, the key to comprehension starts with the rapid and accurate reading of words. In fact, difficulties in decoding unfamiliar words and learning to recognize words rapidly are at the core of most reading difficulties. These difficulties can be traced systematically to initial difficulties in understanding that the language that is heard by the ear is actually composed of smaller segments of sound (e.g., phonemic awareness) (Savage, 2007). Therefore, many of these early difficulties in developing phonemic awareness are due to a lack of literacy and oral language interactions with adults during infancy and early childhood. Oftentimes, such interactions are those characterized by poverty in which the cycle continues.

Disability Concerns

A reading disability has developmental, educational, and social concerns related to the disability. Studies show that IEPs written for high school students with reading disabilities failed to specify any objectives regarding their acute difficulties with basic skills (Cantone & Brady, 2005). In essence, reading disabilities are not effectively addressed. For high school students, transitioning into post secondary education or into the workplace presents challenges because the development of reading skills serves as the major foundational academic ability for all school-based learning. Without the ability to read, the opportunities for academic and occupational success are limited. Moreover, because of its importance, difficulty in learning to read crushes the excitement and love for learning, which most children have when they enter school. The majority of children who enter kindergarten and elementary school at-risk for reading failure can learn to read at average or above levels, but only if they are identified early and provided with systematic, explicit, and intensive instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension strategies (Hock, 2003).

Horowitz (2006) purports that research shows clearly that without systematic, focused, and intensive interventions, the majority of children rarely "catch up." Failure to develop basic reading skills by age nine predicts a lifetime of illiteracy. Unless these children receive the appropriate instruction, more than 74% of the children entering first grade who are at-risk for reading failure will continue to have reading problems into adulthood (Hock, 2003). On the other hand, the early identification of children at risk for reading failure coupled with the provision of comprehensive early reading interventions can reduce the percentage of children reading below the basic level in the fourth grade (i.e., 38%) to six percent or less (Horowitz, 2006).

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