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The identification of learning disabilities (LD) in preschoolers in inclusive settings presents a number of obstacles related to the federal definition in the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This definition appears to emphasize school performance, which is not an appropriate measure for preschool-age children because of natural variability in development and the lack of formal school learning. This paper identifies possible precursors and characteristics of preschool children which can predict learning problems at school age, techniques of functional assessment for busy teachers of inclusive classes, and relevant interventions. The paper asserts that rather than focusing on academic performance, evaluation should determine whether there are specific delays or deviations in the developmental domains which include the social-emotional, adaptive, motor, communication, and cognitive areas. The most common characteristics of LD at preschool age are: age inappropriate hyperactivity, impulsivity, distractibility, inattention, disinhibition, disorganization, speech/language delays, auditory processing delay, visual processing difficulties, short- and long-term memory delays, social-emotional problems, and awkwardness in gross and fine motor skills. Assessment of such behavior by teachers should be functional, able to be performed during daily routines. Such assessment includes curriculum based measurements, play assessment, and portfolios. The paper concludes by describing interventions in the developmental domains of behavior, speech and language, auditory and visual processing, cognitive, motor-adaptive, and social-emotional. Contains 46 references. (EV)

Descriptors: Child Development, Classroom Techniques, Cognitive Development, Curriculum Based Assessment, Developmental Delays, Emotional Development, Evaluation Criteria, Inclusive Schools, Intervention, Language Acquisition, Learning Disabilities, Motor Development, Play, Portfolio Assessment, Preschool Children, Preschool Education, Social Development, Student Evaluation

Autor: Lowenthal, Barbara


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