Technology at school is a very delicate topic, arousing diametrically opposed opinions. Our everyday life is filled with technology everywhere, from our connected devices at home to our workplaces. Technology has positive outcomes in many fields, such as in formative initiatives regarding cognitive disorders such as Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia in particular.
What are specific learning disorders?
According to the European Dyslexia Association, the 8% of the European population is affected by this learning disorder. The American Psychiatric Association has placed specific learning disorders between those usually diagnosed in the time of infancy, childhood or adolescence. In the international classification of syndromes and behavioural disorders (ICD-10), prepared by the World Health Organization, in fact, LD fall under the heading ‘developmental disorders specific to scholastic skills‘ and are defined as disorders that present themselves already in the early stages of development.
Learning Disorders are defined as disorders that affect specific skill sets such as reading, spelling, writing, and mathematics significantly but circumscribed, leaving intact the general cognitive functioning. Dyslexia symptoms are visible when the child:
- confuses the letters that are similar graphically (m/n, b/d/q/p, a/s);
- confuses the letters that sound similar in the point and manner of articulation, but which differ in the start time of the vibration of the vocal cords (t / d, f / v, p / b, etc.);
- reverses letters (reads “dog” for “god”), omits some, or adds some;
- reads a word correctly at the beginning of the page, but can read it in different ways before he/she gets to the end of the text;
- commits errors of anticipation, that is he/she reads the first or first few letters and “guesses” the word, sometimes getting it wrong;
- skips lines and/or words;
- reads slowly, sometimes separating into syllables.
This makes clear that dyslexia is not to be understood as a disease, but as a congenital disorder. Kids affected by dyslexia can be supported through methods for learning facilitation. There are many technologies specifically designed for these profiles, and they all may be seen as an alternative or integration with the study of traditional tools to compensate for reading and/or writing disorders.
How technology can bring benefits to students with learning disorders
The need for specialized personnel able to take care of learning disorders is very strong. In recent years, speech therapists and European psychiatrists have laboured in the search for habilitative lessons, characterized by the use such compensatory tools as intuitive, fast and exciting. Educational apps are specifically designed to generate faster learning and positively interact with the conceptual breakdown that is typical of the perception of children with learning disorders.
Assistive technology – such as voice recognition, text-to-speech and mind-mapping software – opens up a wide range of possibilities for children with dyslexia. Research has shown numerous advantages to using the PC with dyslexic children. Here’s an abstract:
- visual sense is enhanced, learning through pictures is more intuitive and faster than verbal (eg. Using maps, simulations, animations)
- high interactivity allows you to change the unilateral mode of the person-to-person communication process, creating a dynamic and challenging experience
- the logical search of connections helps to increase information by gradually going more deeply into its meaning.
Connections help stimulate teamwork, developing the individual in synergy with other elements. With training and continuous assessments, children affected by specific learning disorders will benefit from technology for their learning.