By Melody O’Neil
In part one of the five-part series, What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?, Bob Broudo talks about the early awareness of and research into Language-Based Learning Disabilities (LBLDs). This is part two. Part three will discuss remediation, four early intervention, and five a day-in-the-life of a family with children with LBLD.
Language-Based Learning Disabilities (LBLDs) refer to an array of difficulties related to the understanding or processing of both spoken and written language. The number and severity of language difficulties can vary widely from person to person. LBLDs can affect the following areas:
- listening (auditory processing)
- oral expression/word retrieval (expressive language)
- oral comprehension (receptive language)
- written expression (spelling, grammar, and mechanics)
LBLD, Dyslexia, and Related Disabilities
An individual diagnosed with an LBLD often has the specific diagnosis of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a phonologically-based reading disability that results in difficulty decoding words accurately, which affects reading fluency and then reading comprehension.
Not all people diagnosed with an LBLD have dyslexia, although the majority will. It may be that their basic decoding and reading skills are intact; however, they may struggle with other areas of language processing and written or verbal expression. These difficulties may include:
- dysgraphia, a disorder that affects spelling, punctuation, and handwriting
- dyscalculia, a disorder that affects someone’s number sense, math reasoning, and ability to process math facts
- executive functioning, which limits one’s capacity to initiate and complete tasks, stay organized, manage time, and plan
- a language disorder (formerly called mixed receptive-expressive language disorder) that affects written and oral comprehension and expression
Understanding the Cognitive Profile
An extremely important piece in defining and diagnosing an LBLD includes looking carefully at the individual’s cognitive profile. A person with an LBLD is going to have difficulties in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, despite having average to above-average cognitive ability, specifically in the areas of verbal comprehension, visual-spatial abilities, and fluid reasoning or problem solving.
Although the LBLD individual may have somewhat lower working memory and/or processing speed, they have an overall strong ability for reasoning, problem solving, and “big-picture thinking.” They are bright, visual, and hands-on kinesthetic learners who tend to struggle more auditorily (listening).
If you feel that your child/student is struggling at school and suspect that they may have an LBLD, the first step to take is to have either psycho-educational testing (done through the public school system) or neuropsychological testing (done privately). Testing will provide information regarding current levels of cognitive, academic, and language functioning. This will also help with making recommendations regarding possible next steps to take and services that may be needed.
Most importantly, continue to encourage your child/student, understand they are struggling, and remember that support is available for all types of learners.
Stay tuned for part three of our series, Help Your Struggling Learner: Remediation Is a Key to Success.
Through Landmark School’s blog, Landmark360.org, we launched the five-part series What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability? in conjunction with Dyslexia Awareness Month. This is the second article in the series. Other articles will address assessment of LBLD, remediation of LBLD, early intervention, and a case study of a family with two children with LBLDs.
Melody O’Neil is Associate Director of Admission at Landmark School