The reading and writing experiences of children with learning disabilities

by Stanley, Leonard D.

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this research was to explore the expenences of children with leamhg disabilities, with a focus on the day-to-day activities of reading and writing at school. Eight children, aged nine to thirteen were interviewed, from three to six sessions each. A phenomenologicai interviewing and interpretation process was undertaken, and comrnon experiences among the children were extracted from the interview transcripts. Their common experiences included feeling more sirnilar to than different from their peers, success in school subjects and other areas, progress in their literacy skills, enjoying literacy, teachers making a difference, not enough time, fnistration, confusion, and cornputers making a difference. Nine common experiences were combined into two general themes: "OK Experience" and "Impact of Teaching Style and Programme". In several respects the results echoed previous research concerning children and adolescents with learning disabilities. Familiar themes such as hstration and the importance of the relationship with teachers and peers emerged in this study as they have in the literature. However, unlike previous literature, the current study found that some children with learning disabilities have positive experiences in school, even in areas with which they struggle. Previous literature tends to emphasise the difficulties and the experience of difference and stigma, wIiile the participants in this study seemed to downplay the difflculties and differences between themselves and peers. The "learning disabilities " label did not seem to have as significant an impact as has been found in previous studies, and self-esteem did not appear to be a problem. Also uniike other studies, the current research found common themes in the experiences of enjoyment of reading and writing, not enough time, confusion, progress and the importance of computer technology- These findings were considered in fight of possible implications for fùrther research and practice. It was suggested that hture research might replicate andor extend this study to Mer explore the cornmon experiences of children and adolescents with Iearning disabilities. To the extent that the results would be supported by fùture research, they might contribute to practice in education and counselling. Something is evidently " working " in the way the participants are being supported, because they appear to be experiencing school as positively as the school system would hope. Perhaps early identification and intervention are effective. Perhaps the irnplementation of a demystification process is helping the children to feel good about themselves. There appears to be some room for improvement in specific cases, to help reduce confusion, hstration, and concerns about tirne lirnits, as well as increased attention to math and computer technology. The role of the counsellor as a proactive partner in the support of children with learnùig disabilities was discussed. To maintain the positive outcomes observed in this study will involve continued advocacy, support for families, case management, and liaison with other agencies. Counsellors cm also provide direct support in the fom of demystification and strategies to reduce confusion and fi-ustration. Target Population
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Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2001

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