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Learning disabilities, behavior & Art


Date: Tue Mar 09 2004 - 07:40:08 PST

From: Pam Whisenhunt (
   Hello, I am writing back to add a few more things I forgot when I sent
some basic suggestions culled from my 21 years of workings with LD kids. Also, to
respond to some of the mail today.

For extra art "fillers" - I keep a large stock of "How-to-DRAW' books on
hand; cars,animals, etc. Most of the kids enjoy the way the lessons are broken
down and sequenced for them.

       Re behavior: I still have kids who"goof off" and don't know what to do
with; sometimes they are just being obnoxious teenagers looking for
attention, sometimes they have been "dumped" in your class and have no interest in
being there. Sometimes they are truly severely emotionally disturbed Iand should
probably not be in your class. I am fortunate that I have great
administrative backup and
the disruptive students can be taken out for awhile to cool their jets.
Also, I can grade them down for not doing their work. I will also spend only so
much time trying to engage them; I don't want the other students to not get
what they need.

       I have to say, in general, putting more than 1 or 2 severely LD kids
in your class (unless they are particularly gifted in ARt) is against my
thinking. I have chosen to stay in level 5 schools - that means we
specialize in only LD all day long but are not boarding - because most of these kids
require one-on-one attention that is just not possible in the large
classroom. And I don't think the mainstream teacher should be expected to have to
meet all the IEP goals on top of all the work he or she has with 25 - 30some
other kids .
      Having gotten that off my chest. . . . .

     1. Most important; if you have an LD student who is either good at art
or really enjoys it, please
           be their champion - Art may be their only strength, or one of the
few. These kids have
           experienced mostly failure in their school lives, tend to have
very low self esteem and have
           at least some depresssion. Also, some of the LD kids are very
gifted in art and creative.

      2. Very important - if you are giving reading material to any of
these students, be sure they can
           read; quite a number are severely dyslexic, which means they may
be on a first or second
           reading level, also they may not be able to physically write more
than a few words at a time
           (dysgraphia) and they will be embarassed and angry if this is
shown in front of high school
           peers. Interestingly, some of the most severely dyslexic
students I've had have been very
           strong art students - really has made me a believer of the right
brain/left brain characteristics.
          - sorry this is so long! best wishes, Pam Whisenhunt, H.S. Art
                                                       The Kingsbury Day
                                                       5000 15th St., N.W.
                                                       Washington, D.C.