Dyslexia used to be thought of as a single disorder rather than a list of disorders that may or may not be present in the same child. It is used mostly as a blanket term to encompass learning disabilities in the form of writing, reading or spelling. In point of fact, Dyslexia actually shows itself as a difficulty in processing language. Dysgraphia is shown in difficulty in processing writing, spelling, reading, etc.
There are at least fifteen educational applications specifically geared towards children and adults for whom Assistive Technology could help bridge the gap between what they are not able to learn in school using traditional teaching methods, and what they do retain in a classroom environment.
There are at least three reasons why traditional teaching methods are less effective than educational applications for special needs students.
1) In a classroom setting, the teacher to student ratio tends to be 24 to 1, and the teacher will focus on teaching broadly the curriculum to the entire class as a whole rather than try to gear the lessons to each student individually. The teacher has a limited amount of time to get through the required material and get in as much material prior to the test. In traditional learning, it is the student’s responsibility to learn and pay attention and do their work. If a child does not do well on tests, homework, etc, the teacher points to the student and shrugs, often thinking to themselves, I cannot teach him, he will not learn, he does not want to learn. We know with special needs students this is not the case, they want to learn but they cannot process the information in the same way as it is disseminated in the classroom.
2) The inability to learn on the part of the student creates anxiety, fear and distress in the student, which makes learning that much harder. In a home or tutorial setting with an online educational application specifically geared towards students who have trouble processing language or math, there is no shame, there is no cause for anxiety because the student is one on one with a parent or tutor helping to walk the child through the educational exercise in a way that will help the student retain in the information as was not possible in the classroom.
3) Social stigma is attached to students who are behind in class. It’s a fact that kids are cruel and they pick on those they deem to be lesser or weaker than themselves. It hurts a child’s self- esteem to be behind the other kids, and those kids pick up on that and it does not end there. The more anxiety, fear or shame the child is made to experience in the classroom particularly at the hands of classmates or even the teacher themselves, the less likely it is the special needs child will even want to learn the material, let alone stay in school.
Assistive Technology can both bridge the gap and even completely replace traditional classroom learning in some areas. If your child has a learning disability, it will be best to meet with your child’s teachers, school principal, school psychologist, and any other professionals that your school district has in order to create a learning plan that does work for your child. Assistive Technology can be in the form of documentary videos, iPad applications, special software, or a combination of visual, verbal, and reading technology to make learning not only less intimidating but enjoyable.
Some areas of the country even offer Virtual School, such as the State of Florida. Florida offers up to 3,000 students a year the opportunity for Free public school education from the comfort of their homes. The classes are offered on a semester basis for grades K-12. It is necessary to register the child prior to the deadline in order for the registration to be accepted. There are other criteria that need to be met as well. For children whose traditional school experience has been tainted with negative experiences, Florida Virtual School is a viable option and preferable to the student just dropping out. There is no reason for children to give up if there are options, and there are.
For a full range of educational applications that suit your child’s learning plan, please refer to the site catalog for a list of available applications.