Historical Blog: Laura Lehtinen

Danielle Gunderson

Brain Injuries and Learning Disabilities

I, Laura Lehtinen, believe that students with learning disabilities have some form of brain damage; however there are ways to effectively teach such students. I have done research alongside other psychopathologists to further explore this controversial topic to devise this belief. This is not as negative as it sounds though. I have found teaching tools, activities, and written books regarding the subject which cover effective ways of teaching certain topics. While science is clear and the relationship proven, there are effective teaching methods to help learning disabled children.

At Wayne County Training School, my colleagues and I studied mentally retarded children as well as those with brain injuries. Through these studies we did discover that there is a relationship between having brain damage and a disability that impairs learning ability. We found such disabilities to include hyperactivity, impulsivity and other such behavioral issues, trouble with conceptual thinking, perseveration, and perceptual disorders. This covers a very wide variety of disabilities, everywhere from behavioral to speech and cognitive. This is not the end though. For educators, there are ways to help these students.

Through our research we also developed ways to help students with brain injuries and such disabilities. We have collectively written numerous books filled with strategies and methods for helping with such disabilities. Vowel Diagraphs has approaches to help students with perseveration and speaking disabilities to help them reduce their symptoms. Psychopathology and Education of the Brain-Injured Child covers reducing the symptoms for students with perceptual and conceptual disabilities for students.  I also wrote a book titled The Other Child for the parents of students with brain injuries. Everyone in the team needs to be as educated as possible to help the student as much as possible.

If everyone works together and has the proper strategies, students with brain injuries can make great progress. There are ways to help students with brain injuries, regardless of their learning disabilities. A disability does not mean that they cannot be taught, it just means that they need extra assistance. Now that we know the biology behind learning disabilities, teachers can more effectively help the learning disabled student.

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