Function-based interventions for LD?

Most readers are likely familiar with the idea that one can, by carefully assessing the antecedents and consequences of a problem behavior, essentially determine what is causing that problem behavior to occur. Given that at least some—many?—students with Learning Disabilities (LD) have some problem-some behaviors, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an evidence base about using functional analysis techniques to document development of procedures for addressing the problem behaviors of students with LD?

In “A Systematic Review of Function-Based Interventions for Students with Learning Disabilities,” Professor John McKenna and his colleagues examined the research literature in search of that very evidence base. They were able to locate only a few studies that met the most rigorous standards, but those studies allowed them to conclude that this idea is a promising one. Here’s the source and the abstract with a hot DOI. I think the publisher (Wiley) may be allowing public access to the entire article, so try clicking on the PDF to download it. (I can’t tell, ’cause I’m working from my office, which has free access anyway; drop a comment to let me know.)

McKenna, J. W., Flower, A., Kim, M. K., Ciullo, S., & Haring, C. (2015). A systematic review of function-based interventions for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 30, 15-28. DOI:10.1111/ldrp.12049

Students with learning disabilities (LD) experience pervasive academic deficits requiring extensive academic intervention; however, they may also engage in problem behaviors that adversely affect teaching and learning, thus lessening the potential impact of specialized instruction and supports. The learning deficits of students with LD are prevalent in the extant research, but behavioral needs appear to receive less attention. The authors report the results of a systematic review investigating the evidence-base for function-based interventions for students with LD using the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) criteria for evaluating single-case studies. Fourteen studies with 17 participants met inclusion criteria, with the majority occurring in elementary settings. Although interventions tended to be effective, few included maintenance and generalization measures. Because of the small number of studies (n = 4) that met WWC design and effectiveness standards, the authors conclude that function-based interventions, although promising, cannot currently be considered an evidence-based practice for students with LD. Implications for practice, areas for future research, and study limitations are reported.

What supports do parents of students with LD consider important?

Linsey Silverstein, who is a doctoral student at Alliant International University in San Diego (CA, US), is hoping parents of children with learning disabilities can help her to ascertain what type support parents need from professionals, whether they’re interested in support groups, and what difficulties they encounter. Ms. Silverstein is inviting parents to participate in an anonymous, on-line survey that she estimates will require 15-30 minutes and has been approved by her institutions research review board.

People interested in learning more may download an accompanying flyer or go directly to the survey Web site.

Could digital devices make attention worse?

Ever wondered if using digital devices is harmful to kids?

For those who just popped into this century, it is obvious that the education press is ripe with discussion of digital devices in classrooms. For the rest of us, the number of stories about the promise of tablets, games, and all their brothers, sisters, and cousins has just grown greater every year.

All this growth of technology has led people to voice reservations about technology in education, including education for students with learning disabilities. Some people probably needlessly fret that digital devices might deter children from learning to read and write (as noted at # 10 in “10 Big Concerns about Tablets in the Classroom”), and common complaints are that the devices are inherently distracting, that multi-tasking will reduce productivity, and that students will use them to do things other than assigned tasks (e.g., messaging each other). Probably most of these are overstated.

In fact, psychologist (and friend of LD Blog) Dan Willingham published an opinion piece in the New York (NY, US) Times entitled “Smartphones Don’t Make Us Dumb” that debunked the idea that devices disrupt attention, if not promoting inattention.

AS much as we love our digital devices, many of us have an uneasy sense that they are destroying our attention spans. We skitter from app to app, seldom alighting for long. Our ability to concentrate is shot, right?

Research shows that our intuition is wrong.

You should read Dan’s entire column (see link at the title), however, to get his full take on these ideas. You’ll have to concentrate, of course. (Also, watch for his forthcoming book, Raising Kids Who Read. I bet it’s going to be a good one.)

Ensley on LD

In a post on her blog that was also carried by the Huffington Post, Karem Ensley discussed “3 Things You Should Know About Learning Disabilities.” I don’t want to steal her content (better that one read it in its original form), but suffice it to say that she focused on foundational points (e.g., having LD does not mean one is dumb) and avoided falling into popular traps (e.g., she addressed “learning differently” without going for learning styles).

LD misrepresented again

In a recent installment of “Stephanie’s Heroes,” Stephanie Satchell, a local TV reporter, tells the story of Lauren Baetsen, Emily Nemec, and Amanda Halacy who are undergraduates at the University of Virginia and who will spend their summer working with children who have moderate to severe intellectual disabilities and other disabilities in Lusaka, Zambia. The effort by these young women makes for a marvelous story, and I’m very glad Ms. Stachell covered it. It’s too bad she does not know “learning disabilities” from this host of other problems, though.
Continue reading ‘LD misrepresented again’

Virginia CEC for 2014 to feature Lavoie

When the Virginia Federation of the Council for Exceptional Children holds its annual conference in the fall of 2014, it will feature widely known speaker Rick Lavoie. The conference, which will be held in Virginia Beach at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel, is slated for 17 and 18 October 2014. Learn more by visiting the Virginia Federation’s Web page.

ResearchILD conference 2014

The annual conference of the Research Institute for Learning and Development (ResearchILD) will be held 14 and 15 March 2014. The theme of the conference for this year is “Myths and Realities in Education: Executive Function, Attention, and Learning Differences.”

Ably led for many years by Lynn Meltzer and held at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the conference features an extensive series of sessions. Go to the ResearchILD Website to learn more or simply download a PDF copy of the brochure.

The House should support Resolution 456

U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, with the support of Representative Julia Brownley of California, introduced a resolution to the U.S. House of Representatives 10 January 2014 calling on “State and local educational agencies to recognize that dyslexia has significant educational implications that must be addressed.” The resolution, which was foreshadowed by a kick-off event by the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus in November of 2013, is drawing support around the Internet, as it should, from diverse sources:

  • Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, noted advocates and researchers on dyslexia, posted a notice on their site, Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, and published a guest editorial in the influential political news source, The Hill calling for support of the resolution.
  • Pete and Pam Wright of Wrightslaw, the widely esteemed site for legal information about students with disabilities, lent their support to the effort, recommending constituents contact their representatives.
  • Over on Barto’s World (long-time connection with LD Blog), Amy Barto posted an entry pointing to the Yale Center’s and Wrightslaw’s pages.
  • Over on High Expectations Advocacy, Sandra Fitzpatrick posted a blog entry pointing to the Yale Center post and recommending that people contact their own representatives to encourage those legislators to support the resolution.
  • Joan Brennan, at Help for Struggling Readers provided a message of support including some useful links (along with some links to her own product).

Dyslexia is the most common reason that students are identified as having learning disabilities in the US. It is, indeed, a problem that deserves very careful consideration and systematic, evidence-based treatment. Even though some may glamorize it and others may ignore it, I agree that the most appropriate course of action is to recognize it and empower schools (and others) to address it effectively and humanely.

Readers interested in obtaining a PDF copy of the full resolution can download one.

Got LD? Tell what it’s like!

Elizabeth Geiger, who is a masters student in the Counseling Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University (NY, US), is soliciting participation in a survey by students in higher education who have LD. If you qualify or you know someone who does, consider enrolling in the study.

Here’s what she has to say:

I am looking for individuals who would like to participate in my research study exploring the life experiences of students diagnosed with a learning disability/disabilities. This survey should only take about 20 minutes of your time.

If you are willing and eligible to participate, please click on the link provided below. Thank you in advance for your time and input. Also, I would really appreciate it if you could pass this message along to anyone else that you think may be eligible and willing to participate.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must reside in the U.S.
  • Must be diagnosed with a learning disability/disabilities.
  • Must be currently enrolled in college or graduate school.

If you meet the above eligibility criteria and are interested in participating, please click on the link below to take you to the survey:

https://tccolumbia.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_d0jhAN1g2dXayP3

This study has been approved by the Teachers College, Columbia University Institutional Review Board: (Protocal #14-020).

Oopsie. Not quite LD

According to Samantha White, a reporter for the Burns (OR, US) Times-Herald, a local advocate for individuals with disabilities had a dream of promoting longer periods of schooling for students with disabilities. “That dream was to provide more opportunities for her son, Nicholas, and other people in Harney County who have developmental disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome, and other learning disabilities.”

Ooops! Is this a case of using LD as a generic? Did Ms. White mean to write “developmental disabilities, autism, Down syndrome, learning disabilities, and other problems?” What do you think?

Later in her article, entitled “A ‘Desert Dream’ come true,” Ms. White revealed that she had searched a popular Website (Autism Speaks) for data about about autism. She apparently passed on the chance to search any of several reasonably authoritative sources about LD such as LD Online, TeachingLD, CLD International, the LD Association of America, NJCLD, and the non-governmental National Center on LD. Sigh.