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Citrus clouds on planet goofy : the reported experiences of children with learning disability.

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The purpose of this study is to illuminate the lived experiences of children with specific learning disability in an attempt to move beyond the deficit and reductionist models of theorizing learning disabilities that currently inform our understanding. A paradigm shift is proposed, a shift in focus towards a holistic or comprehensive view of the person with learning disability. By viewing the phenomenon from the inside, as it were, I shift my focus from “what it is” to “how it is experienced” (Hall, 1998). It is suggested that a change in focus from the deficit to the whole child in his context will better inform practice This research follows the empirical phenomenological tradition, a qualitative analysis of everyday accounts of living with LD. Justification is given for using life history methodology in order to garner insights into the experiences of a child with learning disability. Five informants between the ages of 12 and 14 years were selected to participate in this study. A multi-method approach to data collection was used. Data were collected from a number of sources, including audio journals kept by participants, guided conversations typical of life history research and visual representations such as collages or life maps submitted by the participants. Data, interpreted on multiple levels, are represented in narrative form. Findings challenge current thinking around inclusive education by suggesting that learners with LD experience exclusion in a system meant to create a sense of inclusion. It is in the mainstream that the “identity as LD” is constructed because of the comparison to the performance of peers who do not have LD. However in a specialised educational environment where peers all presented with the same learning differences, difficulties and styles, instead of comparison there is a sameness. I suggest that this leads to the development of an “identity as capable.” Finally there is much we can learn about pedagogical intervention or management from these informants’ experience of LD.


Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2009.


Learning disabled children--Education., Theses--Education.