Specific learning disorders: Handbook for educators

Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) are life-long neurodevelopmental disorders that affect approximately 5 to 12 percent of the European population. They are often referred to as “Dys” disorders, for example, Dyslexia, Dysphasia, Dysorthographia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia. To assist educators in their work and provide them with a comprehensive tool with theories and study content on Learning disorders, a handbook on inclusive tools for educators is being developed by the partners of the project Tofie, and translated into Finnish, Spanish, French and Romanian.

This Handbook is a comprehensive collection of good practises, techniques and tools that are aimed at supporting the inclusion and participation of students with learning disorders.

 

The first module is an overview of the basic Information about Specific Learning Disorders: definitions, types and characteristics and it briefly explains the characteristics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Asperger’s syndrome. This first module is also aimed at raising awareness upon the importance of debunking the myths surrounding the SLDs.

The second module delves into the teaching strategies for higher education: pedagogical framework for online studying tackling issues that arose with the COVID19 pandemic that exposed the education shortcomings in terms of inclusion in the online context.

 

The third module focuses directly on the pedagogical tools for inclusiveness in higher education. This module offers different teaching approaches that can help remove barriers for students with learning disorders in different contexts, for example the Universal Design for Learning which constitutes an approach that is flexible with three main principles: engagement, representation, and action & expression. It looks for ways to motivate learners and sustain their interest, it offers information in different formats, and it gives learners more than one way to interact with the material and to show what they know.

 

There is special focus on inclusive education for foreign students with SLD, ADHD, & Asperger’s syndrome on the fourth module giving a broad perspective on immigrants with learning disorders and diversity in higher education. This issue is often overlooked: “Inclusive Education for Foreign Students with ADHD, ADD and Asperger’s Syndrome” is an important topic, because there is an increasing number of immigrant students with unidentified learning disabilities at HE. The phenomenon seems to be under-researched. That can be because of a variety of reasons. Firstly, because there are students who don’t have a diagnosed learning disorder. Secondly, dyslexia tests are done in a student’s mother language, and it can be difficult to find an expert to take and analyse the test results professionally. Thirdly, it can be because of students’ socio-economic reasons.   (EUROSTUDENT VII Flexible Pathways into and within Higher Education 2021.)

 

Finally, the fifth module gives an overview on the well-being and mental health support for learners with SLD, ADHD and Asperger’s. Stress and anxiety often comorbid students with learning disorders due to numerous difficulties in general in the learning process that can be frustrating in over time. When students do not feel capable anymore of managing stress and anxiety, it can negatively impact their learning capacities, creating a vicious cycle. For this reason, well-being and mental health are central issues when dealing with learning disorders.

 

This handbook will be available soon on the project website, stay tuned for more!

Related projects:

First European bank of free educational resources for dyspraxic children,
from 6 to 15 years old.

Foster student’s memory anchoring and inclusive learning by creating learning paths adapted to their profile and needs, with interactive contents and use of flashcards.

Create a methodology to use comics as a pedagogical tool for inclusive English language learning.