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The terminology used to describe difficulties with learning varies according to the country in which the diagnosis is made.
Dyslexia* is viewed as a reading impairment (DSM 5/ICD 10), a learning ‘difficulty’ (UK) or a specific learning disability (USA). The latest edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM 5) uses the terminology Specific Learning Disorder in Reading, Writing or Mathematics. These are the conditions that have also been referred to as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia.
According to AUSPELD It is conservatively estimated that well over 20% of Australian children are currently struggling with learning difficulties and 3% to 5% of students are known to have a developmental learning disorder. Of those students identified with a learning disorder, four out of every five are assessed as having a reading disorder (or SLD with impairment in reading), commonly known as dyslexia*.
A learning disorder can co-exist with difficulties related to attention, working memory, developmental language disorder or other disabilities such as hearing impairment, autism spectrum disorders, dyspraxia or a traumatic brain injury.
A language disorder means difficulties with receptive language (understanding or comprehension of spoken language), expressive language (explaining or communicating and making yourself understood using spoken or oral language)or pragmatics (using language for social interactions). If there is no obvious cause of language disorder it will be called Developmental Language Disorder however if it is due to another condition or disability e.g. hearing loss, autism, brain injury it will just be referred to as a language disorder secondary to ….. (insert disability here).
Difficulties with language are known to co-exist with learning disorders. The presence of a language disorder can place a student at increased risk of difficulties with reading, spelling, writing, mathematics and learning across the curriculum. A language disorder is diagnosed by a Speech Pathologist who is also able to provide intervention for a Specific Learning Disorder.
A learning disorder will be specific to the learning of academic skills like reading, spelling, writing and mathematics. They are known as Specific Learning disorders in reading, writing or mathematics and may also be known as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. Specific Learning Disorders in Reading, Writing and mathematics are typically diagnosed by registered Psychologists (typically Clinical Psychologists and Educational Psychologists) according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5th Edition (DSM 5).
Each educational sector has a different approach to providing support in schools. For students with disabilities, the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data Census occurs annually and based on this information funding is allocated. In NSW DET and Catholic Schools, the funding is shared to schools via regional office. Whereas in independent schools, it is forwarded directly to the school.
With the shift towards data and research driven practice for early years reading instruction (science of reading), high quality instruction in the classroom with effective progress monitoring and use of decodable readers, many students are achieving good success and the need for additional small group or individual intervention is reduced.
Schools can be tricky to navigate due to a wide range of competing demands on staff. The first step in accessing support would be to contact the classroom teacher or alternatively, the school principal. Kathryn has extensive experience navigating the school pathway as a speech therapist, classroom teacher and parent of students with disabilities. She is always happy to be contacted to assist with navigation of support at school for both students, families and teaching staff.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) operates in all states and territories of Australia. There are two sections;
Kathryn has extensive experience navigating the NDIS journey as a therapist and parent of children with disabilities within both the ECEI and ongoing NDIS programs.
She is always happy to be contacted to assist with navigation of the NDIS journey and has particular experience with students who have language-based learning difficulties and other co-existing disabilities (traumatic brain injury, rare disease, autism spectrum disorder and hearing impairment).
The NDIS now incorporates Post School Supports (formerly funded by ADHC – Transition to Work and Community Participation) into the plan of students during the review prior to their completion of schooling. There is great value in having a planned approach to life after school to ensure that all required supports are in place to equip student independence.
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