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Learners with Mild Disabilities: A Characteristics Approach, 4th Edition

By Eileen B. Raymond

Published by Pearson

Published Date: Apr 1, 2011


A critical look at four high-prevalence mild disabilities as seen from several unique perspectives.   


Learners with Mild Disabilities focuses on four high-prevalence disorders: mild intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, and ADHD. The text also considers the Autism Spectrum Disorders, such as HFA and Asperger’s Syndrome, in addition to other mild conditions such as communication disorders.

This text looks first at the concept of disability from conventional categorical perspectives, and then shifts to focusing on learners from the perspective of alternative, non-categorical frameworks. It describes students with disabilities and related conditions with respect to a variety of individual strengths and needs, considering their cognitive, perceptual, language, academic learning, and social/emotional characteristics. The reader is encouraged to apply these conceptual frameworks through the analysis of numerous vignettes and extended case studies that are drawn from the experiences of real children and teachers throughout the text. Using this non-categorical framework best prepares special educators for the complex job of providing effective services to the full and unique spectrum of students with mild disabilities.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1        Perspectives on Disability

Meet Clarence

Studying High-Prevalence Disabilities

Mild Does Not Mean “Not Serious”

The Power of Language

Labeling, Classifying, and Identifying

        To Classify or Not to Classify

        Additional Thoughts on Labeling

The Historical Context of Disability

Early History of Disability

The Middle Ages, Renaissance and the Enlightenment

Disability Services in the United States (1800-1950)

        Eugenics in Europe and the United States

        The Testing Movement in Europe and the United States

        Serving Children Identified as Having Disabilities

Disabilities in the United States from 1950 to the Present

        Legislative and Legal Supports

        Overview of the IDEA Principles

        History of Rights Won in United States Courts

Trends in History


Ed Murphy: A Case Study


Chapter 2        Issues in Assessment and Identification

Meet Jeffrey

Assessment and Evaluation Requirements in IDEA

Purposes of Assessment of Students with Special Educational Needs

Types of Assessment Instruments and Techniques

        Norm-Referenced Assessment

        Criterion-Referenced and Curriculum-Based Assessment

        Performance Assessment

        Portfolio Assessment

        Functional Behavioral Assessment

Reporting on Student Progress: Grading

Best Practices in Assessment of Children and Youth with Disabilities

Issues in Identification

        Categories as Social Constructions

        Are Non-categorical Models of Service an Alternative?

Response to Intervention: A Non-Categorical Strategy for Assessment and Identification

A Prevention Framework as Support


Sharon: A Case Study


Chapter 3        Issues in Instruction and Placement

Meet Enrico

Curriculum and Learners with Mild Disabilities

Alternatives to Instructional Accommodations

Instructional Strategies to Enhance Curricular Access

        Explicit Teaching

        Peer Tutoring

        Cooperative Learning

        Cognitive Strategies

        Positive Behavioral Supports

Instruction and Individualized Education Program Planning

        Alternative Curricula and Assessments

IDEA 2004 and the Location of Services

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Models of Service Commonly Used for Students with Mild Disabilities

Inclusion: A Continuing Issue in Special Education


Angie: A Case Study




Chapter 4 Learners with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Meet Caroline

Naming this Group of Learners

Historical Foundations of Intellectual Disabilities

Development of the Definition of Intellectual Disabilities in the United States

IDEA Definition of Intellectual Disabilities

Additional Perspectives on Defining Intellectual Disabilities

        The New Generation of Other AAIDD/AAMR Definitions

        Developmental Disabilities and Delay

        An Alternative Definition with an Instructional Perspective

Levels of Severity

        Educational Terminology

        Supports and Intensity of Support Needs

Prevalence of Intellectual Disabilities

Conditions Associated with Risk of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

        Biomedical Risk Factors

        Environmental (Social, Behavioral, Educational) Risk Factors

        Nature or Nurture?

Typical Characteristics of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities


Jennie: A Case Study




Chapter 5   Learners with Learning Disabilities

Meet Peter

Naming this Group of Learners

Historical Development of the Concept of Learning Disabilities

IDEA Definition of Specific Learning Disabilities

Assessment and Identification Issues

        Discrepancy Determination Issues

        IDEA 2004 and Changes in Identification Procedures

        Response to Intervention as an Identification Process

        An Alternative Definition of Learning Disabilities

Prevalence of Learning Disabilities

Conditions Associated with Learning Disabilities

Characteristics of Students with Learning Disabilities


Bobby: A Case Study


Chapter 6  Learners with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders

Meet Nicki

Terms to Refer to This Group of Learners

Historical Foundations of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

IDEA Definition of Emotional Disturbance

        Social Maladjustment: Definition and Exclusion

An Alternative Definition of Emotional or Behavioral Disorders

Assessment and Identification Issues

        Response to Intervention

Levels of Severity

Prevalence of Emotional or Behavioral Disorders

Conditions Associated with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders

        Biological Factors

        Family Factors

        Environmental, Social, and School Factors

Types of Emotional or Behavioral Disorders


Carter: A Case Study


Chapter 7     Learners with ADHD and Other Disorders and Conditions

Meet Nancy

Learners with Attention Problems

        Naming this Group of Learners

        ADHD and the IDEA

        Current ADHD Definition in the DSM-IV-TR

        Identification of Learners with ADHD

        Types of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

        Levels of Severity

        Prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

        Conditions Associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

        Characteristics of Individuals with ADHD

        Should ADHD Be a Separate Category in IDEA?

Physical and Sensory Disabilities

        Physical and Health Disabilities

        Sensory Disabilities

        Traumatic Brain Injury

Communication Disorders

Medication: A Persistent Issue


Frank: A Case Study


Chapter 8    Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Meet Jacob

Naming this Group of Learners

Historical Development of the concept of Autism Spectrum Disorders

IDEA Definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders

        The Psychiatric/Medical Definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the DSM

Assessment and Identification Issues

Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Levels of Severity

Conditions Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Characteristics of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

            Reciprocal Social Interactions and Relationships


            Restricted Interests

            Other Related Characteristics and Behaviors

            Characteristics Descriptive of Specific Conditions on the Spectrum


Sara: A Case Study



Chapter 9     Cognitive and Perceptual Characteristics

Meet Robert

Cognitive Theory and Approaches to Mild Disabilities

Constructivist Perspectives

        Piaget and Biological Constructivism

        Vygotsky and Social Constructivism

Cognitive Styles Research

        Field Dependence/Field Independence

        Impulsivity and Reflectivity

Information-Processing Approaches

        Structural Storage Components

        Strategic Control Components

        Executive Functions


Charlene: A Case Study


Chapter 10      Language Characteristics

Meet Tom

Definition of Language

Which Learners Have Language Difficulties/Disorders?

Language Components and Skills






Receptive and Expressive Language

Language Functions





Common Language Characteristics of Learners with Mild Disabilities

Language Difference or Disability?

Implications of Language Characteristics for Thinking and Learning


Clark: A Case Study


Chapter 11      Academic Learning Characteristics

Meet Barbara

What Is Learning?

Stages of Learning

        Acquisition and Reversion

        Proficiency and Automaticity




Critical Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities

The Role of Motivation

        Extrinsic Motivation

        Intrinsic Motivation

Locus of Control and Attribution of Success or Failure

        External Causal Attributions and Locus of Control

        Internal Causal Attributions and Locus of Control

        Spirals of Failure or Success

        Learned Helplessness

Adolescents with Disabilities in Behavior and Learning

            Self Determination

Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences

        Learning Styles

        Multiple Intelligences

        Universal Design for Learning

Instructional Needs of Learners with Disabilities

        Time Allowed for Instruction

        Persistence or Motivation

        Pupils’ Aptitude for Instruction

        Ability to Understand Instruction

        Quality of Instruction


Allison: A Case Study


Chapter 12      Social—Emotional Characteristics

Meet Eddie

Perspectives on Social—Emotional Characteristics

Developmental Perspectives

        Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

        Emotional Development

        Development of Social Perspective Taking

Social Competence and Cognitive Development

        Social Intelligence

        Emotional Competence

        Social Cognitive Delay

The Relationship Between Problems in Behavior and Problems in Learning

Behavior from an Ecological Perspective

        Risk and Resilience

Maladaptive Behavior

        Patterns of Maladaptive Behavior

IDEA 2004 and Serious Discipline Problems


Sammy: A Case Study



Council for Exceptional Children

        Labeling and Categorizing of Children

        Inclusive Schools and Community Settings

National Association of School Psychologists