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Does Your Child Have a Learning Disability?

Updated on March 2, 2013
GarnetBird profile image

Gloria taught for many years, and also worked as a mental health group facilitator.

By Gloria Siess, {"Garnetbird"}

It is difficult to blossom in RSP without one on one help..
It is difficult to blossom in RSP without one on one help..

Too Often We Set our Children Up For Failure..

If your child has been diagnosed with a SLD (Single Learning Disability) chances are he or she will be placed in a Resource Specialist Program. The RSP Teacher will test your child to determine if he or she is a visual learner, auditory learner or even a hands-on Learner. Most single learning disabilities involve auditory processing disorders and require a skilled RSP Teacher who is comfortable with highly visual teaching methods. As a former RSP Teacher of three years standing, I can attest to the success of elementary RSP programs, which usually involve pulling the child out of the mainstream classroom and giving one on one help.

Sadly, once the child enters Middle School the program changes. In California Public Schools, most RSP Programs in Middle School become saturated and somewhat chaotic due to something teachers often refer to as Caseload Padding. While I felt very content with my position as an elementary RSP Teacher, once I took a Middle School position (7th and 8th Grade) I found that the placing of problem students into RSP classrooms created nothing but frustration.It was not the students' fault that they had been herded into an already saturated Special Education Classroom. Students do not run IEP Meetings and do not place themselves.

. To illustrate my point, I have to describe my own caseload. I had five sections of RSP a day to teach, which included language arts, Science and History. The majority of my students were quiet, somewhat in need of a confidence boost. My job was to teach them with appropriate methods geared towards their SLD. This would have been quite manageable, except for the problem that most Middle School Teachers all recognise and talk about in the lounge: inappropriate placement.

My district placed those with severe ongoing issues, such as violence towards peers and teachers, in with the SLD Students. These students had problems ranging from aggression, fire-setting, and stabbing to sexual acting out. Since they were inappropriately placed, their behavior often became, by default, the focus of the day. The quiet child sitting in the corner had no choice but to watch their teacher deal with violence, verbal abuse and other conduct disorders.At times, the typical RSP Student I served would seem to almost cower in the midst of the power struggles, becoming even more withdrawn. Unlike the highly effective Elementary RSP "pull-out" Program, this system offered them no one on one instruction. Overwhelmed by the severe problems of the other placements, I found myself feeling like a highly paid babysitter.

If your child has been placed in a RSP Program, I suggest that you take extra care to work with them in the Middle School Years. Never assume that their overworked teacher even has time to do so--if the district your child is in is  overwhelmed with "placements" from other programs into their classrooms, individual success will suffer. Some of these students would be better served by a school linked to a Therapy Center, specializing in the needs of those with psychiatric issues.

 Obviously these children need help, too. Yes, and that is my point. Instead of calling for more IEP Meetings, the overworked district will often float problem cases into the RSP caseload as an easy fix. Obviously these students need psychological help and perhaps the (Special Day Class) Program. Sadly, they often end up in RSP because there is no where else to put them without many extra hours of district politics.

The cost to your child is HIGH. The student who needs visual help will sit helplessly by, watching his or her classroom dissolve into chaos. Special Behavior contracts usually have to drafted by the teacher, at the expense of the true RSP Students. (I recall having to write a contract for a student from a Group Home who often would have bowel movements in his pants during class time. I had to train him to ask permission to use the bathroom. Obviously if a Teacher is having to babysit inappropriately placed students, he or she will have little time or energy to do RSP.)

The definition of a RSP student is a child with a Mild to Moderate Learning Disability, not a major conduct disorder. Yet time and time over, a district will sneak these students into a classroom where they will disrupt the program. (One of my 7th grade placements could not write a single sentence; he had been expelled from another district for attacking his teacher with a knife).At the risk of sounding heartless. the rights of students with severe issues should not victimize those with a learning disability.We are not doing these children a favor in the long run, nor their parents.

If your child is in Middle School RSP and is not experiencing some of these issues, count yourself blessed. I have worked in three districts in California, all middle School RSP Programs, and found the problem to be a common one in my state. (In one classroom I was threatened with assault so many times , the student had to frequently be escorted to a "time out" room. This student was a major Basketball Star and I was warned by other teachers if I wanted to be kept on permanently, I couldn't make a" big deal" out of it.)

RSP Classrooms should be kept free of such cases, so their teacher can focus on addressing the single learning disability--not becoming a classroom cop in the process. These RSP students can be very successful with proper nurturing and encouragement. The distraction of constant psychological outbursts creates a poor climate for learning indeed.


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    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 6 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you so much...I hope my experiences will not echo what your school district is doing..sometimes a creative approach works well, one on one..

    • cheatlierepeat profile image

      cheatlierepeat 6 years ago from Canada

      Very useful Information. My son has a LD and I am trying to learn all I can to see he gets the help needed.

    • susanlang profile image

      susanlang 7 years ago

      I have a brother who was born with down syndrome, it's quite a struggle for him.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      I have a young man with asd: aspergers syndrome. Been there, done that! Good hub:)

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for sharing this information. There has to be a better way to meet the needs of our children whether they have learning disabilities or not. It is a shame that so many children get lost within our school system simply because of rules and regulating that prevent them from being taught in a manner that they can learn. Congrats on being selected to this week's HubNuggets Wannabe nomination. :)

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you; I enjoyed your Hub on your own school experiences!

    • ramkkasturi profile image

      ramkkasturi 7 years ago from India

      It is very nicely written. I am interested in child welfare and have been writing on the exploitation of children for theft. I have written one or two on this subject in hub pages too. A child is very precious and we must see that they become good, healthy happy adults. Thanks for the hub Ramkkasturi

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      GarnetBird, I can understand the dilemma reading your hub as I am also involved with a preschool. It is already a challenge teaching SLD's and to contend with violence and other disruptive behaviors from other kids makes it more challenging. We can only hope that the situation can improve and solutions found.

      Congratulations for your Hubnugget Nomination! If you haven't received the official notification yet, drop by this hub and see it with your own eyes! :) Vote and promote okay? Enjoy the hubnuggets!

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Oh, Thank you! RSP is just a mess when the kids get into Middle School. I wanted parents out there to know what to expect. Hopefully, their experiences will be better than mine.

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 8 years ago from United States

      Good info very nice hub..