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Toronto Catholic District School Board

Learning Disabilities

Contact information:    

Dr. Maria Kokai, Chief Psychologist 
Toronto Catholic District School Board
80 Sheppard Ave. East
Toronto, ON M2N 6E8

 

 
October is Learning Disabilities (LD) Awareness Month
 
 
 
 
 
 
The TCDSB Psychology Department offers the following resources
Facts and Figures:
 
1.       About 10% of the population has LD (LDAC)
2.       Students with LD constitute the largest percentage (>40%) of students with special education needs in Ontario (Ministry of Education)
3.       By definition individuals with LDs have average to above average intelligence
4.       LDs affect certain skills areas, and most of them can be improved with the right supports
5.       Statistically, every teacher has one or more students with LD in his/her classroom
6.        All students identified with LD at TCDSB have been assessed and diagnosed, based on a thorough psychological assessment
7.       TCDSB psychology staff complete over 2000 psychology referrals every year.
8.       Psychological assessments are focused on students with the most significant needs due to communication and intellectual disabilities.
 
 
 
Resources:
 
LD@school: Resources on LD for Educators
LD@home: Resources on LD for Parents
Integra: Supporting children and youth with LD and mental health concerns
 
  

Did you know that the diagnosis of LD

1. is based on a thorough psychological assessment, that

2. indicates the underlying cause of the academic difficulties
3. helps us understand how the individual learns/processes information to inform intervention.
 
For ther recommended guidelines by the Association of Chief Psychologists with Ontario School Boards for LD assessment and diagnosis, see http://www.acposb.on.ca/

 

 

 
Educators can find valuable resources for better understanding, programming and meeting the needs of students with LD at LD@school
 
 To find programs and resources to address the social-emotional and mental health needs of children and youth with LD, check out the Integra Programs
 

What is a Learning Disability?

The Ministry of Education, in the 2014 Policy and Program Memorandum 8, defines learning disability as one of a number of neurodevelopmental disorders that persistently and significantly has an impact on the ability to learn and use academic and other skills and that:
 
  • affects the ability to perceive or process verbal or non-verbal information in an effective and accurate manner in students who have assessed intellectual abilities that are at least in the average range; 
  • results in (a) academic underachievement that is inconsistent with the intellectual abilities of the student (which are at least in the average range) and/or (b) academic achievement that can be maintained by the student only with extremely high levels of effort and/or with additional support; 
  • results in difficulties in the development and use of skills in one or more of the following areas: reading, writing, mathematics, and work habits and learning skills; 
  • may typically be associated with difficulties in one or more cognitive processes, such as phonological processing; memory and attention; processing speed; perceptual-motor processing; visual-spatial processing; executive functions); 
  • may be associated with difficulties in social interaction; with various other conditions or disorders, diagnosed or undiagnosed; or with other exceptionalities; 
  • is not the result of a lack of acuity in hearing and/or vision that has not been corrected; intellectual disabilities; socio-economic factors; cultural differences; lack of proficiency in the language of instruction; lack of motivation or effort; gaps in school attendance or inadequate opportunity to benefit from instruction.   
 
At TCDSB, the diagnosis of Learning Disability is used to describe the LD learning profile, which is based on the LD definition by the LDAO.
 
In general terms, “learning disabilities” (LD) refer to a range of difficulties that affect how easily someone can take in, retain, understand, organize, or use information.  These difficulties result from having impairments in one or more psychological processes, alongside otherwise average to above average intellectual abilities. A comprehensive psychological assessment indicating an LD diagnosis is necessary to confirm that a student has LD and can be identified by IPRC as an “exceptional” student with LD.
 

How are the needs of students with Learning Disabilities met at TCDSB?

 
Range of Placement Options and Program Resources:
 

Elementary Placements

Regular class with indirect support:  The student with LD is placed in a regular class for the entire day, and the teacher receives specialized consultative service*. The emphasis is on ensuring students have access to the Ontario curriculum through the application of appropriate accommodations, differentiated instruction, and the use of assistive technology. Accommodations, modifications and/or alternative programming are documented in the Individual Education Plan (IEP).
 
Regular class with resource support:  The student with LD is placed in a regular class for most or all of the school day and receives specialized instruction, individually or in a small group, within the regular classroom from a qualified Special Education teacher*. The emphasis is on ensuring students have access to the Ontario curriculum through the application of appropriate accommodations, differentiated instruction, and the use of assistive technology. Accommodations, modifications and/or alternative programming are documented in the IEP.
 
Regular class with withdrawal support: The student with LD is placed in a regular class and receives instruction outside the classroom for less than 50% of the school day, from a qualified Special Education teacher*. Students with LD leave the regular class for a period of time to receive specialized programming to meet their needs usually in Language Arts or Mathematics. Accommodations for other subjects are provided in the regular classroom. Accommodations, modifications and/or alternative programming are documented in the IEP.
 
Learning Disabilities Intensive Support Program (ISP) with partial integration in the regular class: The student with LD is placed by Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC)in a special education class for at least 50% of the school day, and is integrated with a regular class for the remainder of the day.*  The goal is to provide intensive, individualized educational programming for students with moderate/severe LD in their areas of need, as well as to apply appropriate accommodations in order to provide full access to the Ontario curriculum. Integration for the remainder of the day is scheduled in collaboration with the regular classroom teacher so that each student can benefit from the regular classroom program and from contact with peers. Accommodations, modifications and alternative programming are documented in the IEP.
Students may need to leave their local school to participate in such a program, and in most instances will be transported to the location of the ISP.
 

Secondary Placements

Regular class with indirect, resource and withdrawal support:  For secondary school students with LD, the main focus is on accumulation of credits necessary for a secondary school diploma, therefore the emphasis is on indirect support, differentiated instruction, the use of assistive technology, and implementation of appropriate accommodations. Withdrawal support is also available for students requiring direct specialized support from the Special Education Teacher. The degree and intensity of support is based on individual student needs. The subject specific teachers deliver accommodations and/or modifications as documented in the IEP.
 
A transition plan is outlined in the IEP, as per Ministry direction, to ensure appropriate programming, placement and supports especially between elementary and secondary and between secondary and post secondary transitions. All students identified with a Learning Disability are discussed at an exchange of information meeting between personnel of the elementary and secondary panels. Transition plans may support / supplement IPRC recommendations.
 

How are the social-emotional needs of students with LD supported?

Students with LD require support in understanding their own learning style, and in acquiring self-advocacy skills and social skills. Instruction for LD students in any of the placement/program options includes helping students understand their strengths and needs as learners, advocate for themselves and take responsibility for their own learning. Additional supports may be available from TCDSB psychology and social work staff through individual or small group intervention, as well as from teachers and other school staff.  Needs and programming in this area are documented in the IEP as alternative programming.
 

How do students access these programs?

The programs for students with learning disabilities are designed for students who meet criteria for the Ministry definition of a learning disability, confirmed by a comprehensive assessment and a diagnosis of a learning disability. The IEP for each student reflects the specific needs of students with this exceptionality. If required, the student is referred to an IPRC by the principal or at the request of the parent. The IPRC considers information from the school about the student’s history as a learner, all available assessment reports, and information that the parent and student wish to provide. Admission to Intensive Support Programs for students with learning disabilities is through identification and placement by IPRC. The IPRC will consider an educational assessment; a psychological and other assessments as needed; any information that the parent or student submits.
 
Supports for students with LD at TCDSB
 
 
Intensive Support Program for students with LD at TCDSB
 

 

 
 
 
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