On Friday, May 21st, 2021, a workshop for the tutors was conducted by Suzan Ngowi from BCC (Building a Caring Community).  The topic was Learning Disability and Intellectual Disability.  The workshop began at 1pm, and Suzan began by welcoming all the attendees, and the tutors each introduced themselves.

Then, Suzan introduced the topic of the workshop called “Learning Disability and Intellectual Disability” and the method she used in presenting the topic was the participatory method.  She then provided questions to the tutors to share their ideas such as:

  • What is a learning disability?
  • What is an intellectual disability?
  • How do tutors help students with such disability?

The tutors shared their ideas as they discussed, and then the facilitator began her presentation by explaining the difference between a learning disability and an intellectual disability in the areas of dysfunction, typical features, classification, impact of normal functions, and treatments.

DYSFUNCTION: Suzan explained that an individual with an IQ below 70 is said to be a person with an intellectual disability which mostly affects self-help skills, academic achievements, memory, and emotional skills.  In learning disabilities, the disorder affects the ability to understand, use spoken or written language, do mathematics, and coordinate movements or direct attention.  Learning disabilities occur in very young children, but the disorders are usually not recognized until the child reaches school age.

TYPICAL FEATURES: Suzan talked about differential criteria for intellectual disability, namely a deficit in intellectual functions like reasoning, problem solving, abstract thinking, and academic and social learning.  There are also deficits in adaptive functioning: difficulty in adjusting to the environment and conforming to developmental standards for age and culture, the onset of which occur in childhood or adolescence.  Meanwhile, differential criteria for learning disability include: poor reading, writing, comprehension, mathematical skills, and decoding fluency; inability to compose complete and organized written information; poor handwriting and spelling; and difficulty memorizing and retaining information.

CLASSIFICATION: Intellectual disability is divided into different subtypes such as mild intellectual disability of IQ levels 50-70, moderate intellectual disability of IQ levels 35-49, severe intellectual disability of IQ levels 20-34, and profound intellectual disability of IQ levels less than 20.  Learning disability, on the other hand, is classified on the basis of areas of difficulty with the subtypes of learning disability being Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, and Aphasia/dysphasia.  Suzan explained each subtype with examples.

IMPACT OF NORMAL FUNCTIONS: Students with intellectual disability get difficulty in doing normal activities like other children of the same age such as in communication, social skills, and academic performance while students with learning disability are also affected in social life and development.

TREATMENTS: For intellectual disability, treatments may include speech therapy, communication intervention, behavior therapy, and/or medication.  Treatments differ according to the severity of the disability.  Since learning disability is manifested in certain specific areas like reading, writing, math, or spelling, the treatments of learning-disabled students focus on improving only the specific area and an overall therapy for communication or life skills.  The special education techniques include: classroom modification catering to meet individual needs, using technology like listening to books on tape or using computerized spell-check software, special teaching techniques providing multi-sensory experiences feedback, special tools like oral exams instead of written ones, using an audio-visual mode of teaching, and using memory aids and computers for solving problems.

Lastly, Suzan explained about autism and how tutors can communicate with parents on a child’s problem if they suspect the child is on the spectrum.  Then she gave a chance to the tutors to ask questions and ended up the session.

Suzan’s objectives of the workshop were for the tutors to be able to differentiate students with learning disability and students with intellectual disability as well as to be aware of different strategies on how to help children with these disabilities.  She also wanted the tutors to know how to be very sensitive when communicating with parents on their children’s issues.  Her closing recommendation was that the tutors use the strategies taught on how to support children with different difficulties in the classroom and outside the class.