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Learning disabilities in campers.

How often do you see the following examples occur in campers? Kenny, a bright ten-year-old, focuses his attention on the counselor's directions during an activity. He appears attentive, but always needs to ask the counselor or a peer to repeat portions of the directions. Sue, an impressionable thirteen-year-old, likes to participate in sports activities, but finds constant misjudging of distances to catch or hit a ball is embarrassing. She slowly withdraws from these activities. And Bob, a competitive fellow, enjoys playing table games except for the ones that require him to spell. He is not going to show you his words or ask for help. If Bob doesn't have the slightest chance of winning, he's not going to play.

The examples describe characteristics of learning disabilities that can interfere with participation in recreation activities.

Most information available regarding learning disabilities focuses on educational intervention and language instruction, usually in a school setting. However, learning disabilities do not disappear when a student is on summer break. At camp, a child is required to read directions, write a letter, and remember important tasks or chores, just as in school. Just like teachers, camp directors and counselors should be familiar with learning disabilities and their characteristics.

Defining Learning Disabilities

The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (JCLD) defines learning disabilities as a "group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities." They are presumed to be due to a dysfunction of the central nervous system and may occur across a person's lifetime.

A person with a learning disability may also have problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction. People with other disabilities, such as sensory impairment, mental retardation mental retardation, below average level of intellectual functioning, usually defined by an IQ of below 70 to 75, combined with limitations in the skills necessary for daily living. , or serious emotional disturbances, or those with extrinsic EVIDENCE, EXTRINSIC. External evidence, or that which is not contained in the body of an agreement, contract, and the like.
     2. It is a general rule that extrinsic evidence cannot be admitted to contradict, explain, vary or change the terms of a contract or of a
 influences such as cultural differences or inappropriate instruction may have learning disabilities as well; however, the disability is not the resuit of those conditions or influences.

Once camp directors and counselors understand how learning disabilities affect a camper's recreation skills, they can assist in providing accommodations and/or modifications. They can also teach compensation strategies to improve the camper's success in camp activities.

Accommodations Level the Playing Field

What is meant by accommodation and why is it used? Accommodation means making some kind of arrangement or change for the person having learning disabilities, such as introducing materials, policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental , or equipment, so that the person has an equal opportunity to fully participate in the program.

Accommodations can be as simple as having a baseball catcher wear red gloves under his mitt for administering signals to a pitcher who has visual-perceptual learning disabilities. Audio recording the directions to a craft project for a camper who has dyslexia dyslexia (dĭslĕk`sēə), in psychology, a developmental disability in reading or spelling, generally becoming evident in early schooling. To a dyslexic, letters and words may appear reversed, e.g.  would be another example. Complex accommodations might consist of breaking down steps and rewriting the rules of a game. The revised game rules with additional steps would then be given to the camper to use as a reference guide to follow during participation in the game.

Modifications Enhance the Activity

What is a modification? This is where an agency reasonably modifies its policies, practices, or procedures to avoid discrimination, allowing equal access and participation to persons with disabilities. Unlike accommodation, modification affects others within the program. For example, Jane, a participant in a recreation exploration class, has a visual impairment Visual Impairment Definition

Total blindness is the inability to tell light from dark, or the total inability to see. Visual impairment or low vision is a severe reduction in vision that cannot be corrected with standard glasses or contact lenses and
 in addition to her learning disabilities. Slides are used to depict examples of recreation activities and equipment. Modifications to this program include moving the slide projector as far away from the screen as possible to create a larger image of the slide and employing sound effects sound effects
Noun, pl

sounds artificially produced to make a play, esp. a radio play, more realistic

sound effects nplefectos mpl sonoros

 of the game in play (e.g., bat striking a ball, racket hitting a shuttlecock, and cheers of the crowd). The latter modification introduces sensory awareness Sensory awareness
Bringing attention to the sensations of tension and/or release in the muscles.

Mentioned in: Alexander Technique
 of the activity to Jane and the other participants.

Modifications can serve as innovative teaching techniques for the entire group, not just for the person requiring a different presentation. Other kinds of modifications consist of allowing extra time in a timed word game, using bright green tape to create the boundaries of an inside foul line foul line
1. Baseball Either of two straight lines extending from the rear of home plate to the outer edge of the playing field and indicating the area in which a fair ball can be hit.

 on a volleyball court, or teaching all soccer players the following mnemonic Pronounced "ni-mon-ic." A memory aid. In programming, it is a name assigned to a machine function. For example, COM1 is the mnemonic assigned to serial port #1 on a PC. Programming languages are almost entirely mnemonics.  to remember a play sequence: PIFS PIFS Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
PIFS Priority Interframe Spacing
PIFS Point Inter Frame Space
 (Pass ball with Inside Foot to Stationary player) or PIF (Program Information File) A data file in Windows 3.x and NT that stores window settings for DOS applications. It allows screen size, fonts and other options to be selected in order to customize the way the DOS app appears under Windows.  SAMP (Pass ball with Inside Foot Slightly Ahead of Moving Player).

Adapting Activities

The following are guidelines to consider when looking at adapting an activity to the needs of campers having disabilities:

* adapt only if essential for participation, success, enjoyment, or to reduce failure and frustration.

* adaptations should be considered temporary or transitional if possible.

* adapt on an individual need and age-appropriate basis.

* adapt for normalization In relational database management, a process that breaks down data into record groups for efficient processing. There are six stages. By the third stage (third normal form), data are identified only by the key field in their record.  by keeping the activity as close to the standard version as possible.

* adapt considering availability and cost in the agency.

* ask participant, family member, and other camp professionals for adaptation suggestions.

Various parts of an activity, from equipment to rules, can be adapted to improve a learning disabled camper's success. Primary types of adaptations include:

* Materials: the weight and size of equipment can be altered, target size increased, ball resiliency changed.

* Procedural: expectations can be altered, rules can be modified, and choices reduced.

* Space: distance from the target or between bases, height of targets, etc.

* Force: force or speed required for activity slowed or substituted.

* Skill sequence: use of task analysis to illustrate steps.

* Lead-up activities: tasks, exercises, or games that are prerequisites to activity.

* Communication: taped message, magnification of volume or print, other audio or visual needs.

The use of accommodations and modifications through adaptive measures are helpful in improving a person with learning disabilities' success in recreation pursuits, but another important factor is the use of compensation strategies to refine recreation skills.

Compensation Strategies

Compensation strategies are useful techniques or methods to effectively solve problems, approach mastering a task efficiently, learn procedures within an activity more elaborately, and understand a concept when integration and assimilation are required. Some individuals learn these strategies through life experience (the school of hard knocks The School of Hard Knocks is an idiomatic phrase meaning the (sometimes painful) education one gets from life, often contrasted with formal education. It is a phrase which is most typically used by a person to claim a level of wisdom imparted by life experience, which they consider ), while others are fortunate enough to have someone provide them with guidance. It does not matter how compensation strategies are obtained, as long as they are mastered and utilized to render effective participation in an activity of choice. Some examples of self-learned compensation strategies in children and youth include:

* Learn from doing

Jim cannot understand the chalkboard plays in football so his mind frequently "fades out" during chalk talk sessions. Jim asks the coach if he could first watch the play in action and then run the play a few times. Jim feels confident of learning the play since he will run it at least three times out on the field.

* Observe what others do

Sally is always one step behind when the counselor verbally explains a series of activities for the relay race relay race

Race between teams in which each team member successively covers a specified portion of the course. In track events, such as the 4 × 100-m and 4 × 400-m relays, the runner finishing one leg passes a baton to the next runner while both are running within
. Sally chooses to stand near the end of her relay team line so she can watch her teammates in action. By the time her turn comes, she can successfully perform the tasks just like everyone else in her group.

* Develop a buddy system buddy system
An arrangement in which persons are paired, as for mutual safety or assistance.

Noun 1. buddy system

Keith has a problem interpreting what his camp computer instructor says during class. During the weekly viewing of computer instruction videos and demonstrations, Keith may catch only about a third of what is explained. Keith develops a close friendship with George, a camper from his leatherwork leath·er·work  
1. Decorative work crafted in leather.

2. Articles made of leather.

 class. Keith and George get together for about a half an hour after class to discuss what the computer instructor wants the class to accomplish for the next assignment.

* Awareness of instructors' expectations

Often in group activities one person's wrongdoings or mistakes can jeopardize the entire group. April is often tardy tar·dy  
adj. tar·di·er, tar·di·est
1. Occurring, arriving, acting, or done after the scheduled, expected, or usual time; late.

2. Moving slowly; sluggish.
 to her gymnastics class. When she is late, her coach makes April and her teammates run laps around the gym. She immediately becomes aware of timeliness because she knows her coach expects her to arrive on time.

In Pursuit of Having a Good Time

When camp professionals learn the characteristics of learning disabilities, recognize these behaviors in campers, acknowledge the need for accommodations or modifications, and deliver those services in an efficient matter, then campers can enjoy a quality camp experience. It may take extra work and special effort to ensure that the Kennys, Sues, and Bobs at camp can enjoy activities as much as their non-disabled peers, but their smiles and laugher will tell you it is all worthwhile.

Types of Learning Disabilities

Following are several types of learning disabilities that can affect performance in camp activities.

Auditory Acuity Difficulties involve problems with taking in information through the sense of hearing and/ or processing that information.

Auditory-Vocal Association Problems can cause a person who hears what was said and is subsequently able to acknowledge the auditory stimuli auditory stimuli, in dentistry, the irregularities or deposits on the surface of a tooth that may be detected by ear of both patient and clinician during examination and probing.
 in a correct manner to perform an incorrect or inappropriate action.

Auditory Memory auditory memory The ability to remember words and sounds. See Memory.  Deficit causes a camper to have difficulty remembering directions or instructions that have been previously explained.

Auditory Sequencing Problem affects a camper who is unable to recall a series of auditory instructions.

Catastrophic Response occurs anytime when an individual is overloaded with too much visual and/or auditory stimuli, which causes the person to shut down for approximately one minute.

Cognitive Disorganization disorganization /dis·or·gan·iza·tion/ (-or?gan-i-za´shun) the process of destruction of any organic tissue; any profound change in the tissues of an organ or structure which causes the loss of most or all of its proper characters.  causes a camper to miss or forget steps in a sequence.

Crossing the Midline mid·line
A medial line, especially the medial line or plane of the body.

n the line equidistant from bilateral features of the head.
 and Directional Problems become quite apparent during aerobic exercise aerobic exercise,
n sustained repetitive physical activity, such as walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming, that elevates the heart rate and increases oxygen consumption resulting in improved functioning of cardio-vascular and respiratory systems.
, dance class, or in-line skating or while driving go-karts or bumper cars or locating buildings or rooms. The camper is unable to smoothly mimic the movements of the instructor and has difficulty mirroring responses. Controlling the steering wheel, judging of turns on a course, and going in the correct direction may require many practice runs before exhibiting adequate skills.

Disinhibition dis·in·hi·bi·tion
1. A loss of inhibition, as through the influence of drugs or alcohol.

2. A temporary loss of an inhibition caused by an unrelated stimulus, such as a loud noise.
 often complicates a camper's ability to fit in a group, especially in team recreation activities. A camper may laugh when teammates drop a ball, retrieve shots within someone else's playing zone, or talk loudly when low speech is expected.

Dyscalculia dys·cal·cu·li·a
Impairment of the ability to solve mathematical problems, usually resulting from brain dysfunction.
 can cause one to produce a sum that is incorrect resulting in losing game or misplacing a ranking in golf. This also can cause difficulty in playing certain board or card games.

Dyslexia, a poor ability to understand written language, poses a problem when reading craft instructions, theater programs, movie subtitles, travel itineraries, and interpreting the directions of a new game.

Intersensory Problem creates a difficulty with using two senses at once. For example, a camper may be unable to complete an arts and crafts arts and crafts, term for that general field of applied design in which hand fabrication is dominant. The term was coined in England in the late 19th cent. as a label for the then-current movement directed toward the revivifying of the decorative arts.  project because he is trying to hold a conversation with a person sitting beside him.

Short-Term Memory short-term memory
Abbr. STM The phase of the memory process in which stimuli that have been recognized and registered are stored briefly.
 Problem causes a camper not to remember the sequence of turns taken during a table game or to forget rules just explained or a task just completed.

Visual Acuity visual acuity
Sharpness of vision, especially as tested with a Snellen chart. Normal visual acuity based on the Snellen chart is 20/20.

Visual acuity
The ability to distinguish details and shapes of objects.
 Problem affects a camper who cannot see clearly and differentiate objects in the visual field.

Poor Visual Coordination and Pursuit involves difficulties following and tracking objects, for example, catching a Frisbee.

Visual Figure-Ground Differentiation Problem causes the inability to distinguish objects in the foreground and background.

Visual-Motor/Spatial-Form Manipulation Problems cause complications in successfully moving in space and manipulating three-dimensional objects.

Lorraine C. Peniston is a learning disabilities specialist at the University of New Mexico The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public university in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was founded in 1889. It also offers multiple bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degree programs in all areas of the arts, sciences, and engineering. . She is also a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and certified leisure professional. She has eighteen years' experience working with special populations in clinical and community recreation settings.
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on types of learning disabilities
Author:Peniston, Lorraine C.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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