Children with learning difficulties require special attention from caregivers and teachers. Understanding the particular needs of these children is imperative to ensure that they achieve academic and social success. Memory and language are two separate elements of cognitive developmentthat influence the overall well-being of a child. Research has shown that deficits in these two domains can overlap, creating an even more complicated framework in which these children must be taught. Lisa Archibald, of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department of the University of Western Ontario at Elborn College in London, led a study in an attempt to identify how teachers address these issues, separately and collectively, in the classroom.
Archibald examined teacher reports from six sets of children with impairments, two of whom had specific language impairments (SLI), two with specific working memory impairments (SWMI), and two with mixed language and memory deficits. The average age of the children was 8 years, and each of the children was paired with a child who had no learning challenges to serve as a control. The teachers assessed the children’s behaviors, communication styles, attention, and memory skills as well as their language abilities and reported their findings via questionnaires supplied by Archibald and her colleagues.
The results revealed that, with the exception of one child, all of the children in the study exhibited challenges across the areas of math, spelling, and reading. Additionally, all of the children also displayed behavior and attention problems. The children with language deficits were especially prone to problems and had to receive cues to keep them on task with memory issues. Archibald believes that these findings underscore the importance of teaching specifically to the special needs of these children. Archibald added, “It is clear that these tentative findings of specific and cross-domain impacts of developmental language and working memory impairments on school learning warrant further investigation.”
Archibald, L., Joanisse, M., Edmunds, A. “Specific Language or Working Memory Impairments: A Small Scale Observational Study.” Child Language Teaching and Therapy 27.3 (2011): 294-312. Print.
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