Learning Disabilities Anniversary
Fifty years ago, on April 6, 1963, a group of concerned parents held a conference in Chicago to discuss a shared frustration: they all had children who were struggling in school. They had been told that their children were lazy, lacked intelligence, or experienced bad parenting. This group of parents knew better. They knew that their children were bright and eager to learn, but that they needed help and alternative teaching approaches to succeed in school.
One of the speakers at that conference was Dr. Samuel Kirk, a respected psychologist and pioneer in the field of special education. Dr. Kirk used the term “learning disabilities,” which he had coined a few months earlier, to describe the problems these children faced.
According to Jim Baucom, professor of education at Landmark College, the speech had a profound effect on the parents. They asked Dr. Kirk if they could adopt the term “learning disabilities,” not only to describe their children but to give a name to a national organization they wanted to form. A few months later, they formed the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities. This group, now known as the Learning Disabilities Association of America, is the largest and most influential organization of its kind.
Instead of hibernating during this long cold winter, the level of activity inside and outside the LDC has increased. New students are being welcomed to the clinic. Referrals have come from current clients, schools districts, Michigan Department of Rehabilitation, and parents. The ages of these students range from 5 to 55.
In addition to the activity within the LDC, the various outreach programs developed and staffed by LDC teachers has increased. Currently four LDC outreach programs are located in Detroit, providing services that include staff for speech and language, social work and psychology, after school tutoring, and math push-in programs for middle and high school students.
Be on the lookout for our newly designed awning and lobby!
Did you know:
… one of the surcharges listed on your phone bill, the Federal Universal Service Fee, is used to subsidize basic Internet connections for schools and libraries (www.nytimes.com/technology).
… between 1998 and 2008 public school teachers salaries declined 1% while the increase in inflation was 31.4% (www.huffingtonpost.com).
… students who read a statement or were told prior to a test that “people who feel anxious during a test might actually do better”, did in fact, do better on their tests (http://parenting.nytimes.com).
Ask most elementary school age children what is their favorite part of the day and they will probably answer “recess.” In January 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with a statement that seems to agree with the children. Their policy statement titled “The Crucial Role of Recess in School” states that “recess is necessary for the health and development of children and should never be withheld for punishment or for academic reasons.”
Recess is seen as a critical part of a child’s day because:
When children get breaks, they are better able to learn.
Through play, children learn to communicate, negotiate, and cooperate.
Children need exercise for physical and mental well-being. An hour a day is recommended and recess helps meet that goal.
Children need to play “for the sheer joy of it”.
Claire McCarthy, M.D. notes that as teachers struggle to fit all the academic requirements into the school day, it is tempting to eliminate 15–20 minutes of recess. Schools are asked to do a better job of educating children, teaching social skills, and keeping them mentally and physically healthy. Eliminating recess would be a mistake. Just as adults need periodic breaks from their work tasks, so do children. They need recess “as much as anything else they get in school.”