Bi-Lingual children with learning disabilities

Learning disabilities in bi-lingual children can be the result of what languages children are speaking at home and at school. Expert Jerome Schultz, PhD, explains how these scenarios can arise.
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Bi-Lingual children with learning disabilities

Some teachers have the mistaken perception that kids who speak two languages are equally skilled in both those languages. And it's really important to understand that some kids who have a home language and a school language speak or use neither of those languages very well. So if you have a child sitting in your class who comes from a different language background, and whose family speaks another language other than English, which is the primary language of instruction in the United States, he or she may be having a lot of anxiety and difficulty because he or she is trying to translate what's going on in the classroom to a home language that may not be fully developed. Think about it. If parents at home are speaking in two languages in order to get their child skilled in both the languages, those parents may come from a non-English background. They may not be great English language teachers. And the teachers at school may not know the home language. And they don't talk to the child in that language. So you're really not getting enough intensity. When little kids learn two languages when they're young, and they learn them well, and they have consistent instruction in both of those languages, the young brain picks up language skill quite easily and quite well. And that's a real gift to have. But we're talking about kids who may be because of a learning disability have not learned either language well and they're doubly disabled if you will.

Learning disabilities in bi-lingual children can be the result of what languages children are speaking at home and at school. Expert Jerome Schultz, PhD, explains how these scenarios can arise.


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Jerome Schultz, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is a former middle school special education teacher. He is currently in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  For over three decades, he has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs. He was on the faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge MA for almost 30 years, and served there as the Founding Director of a diagnostic clinic called the Learning Lab. Before returning to private practice, Dr. Schultz served as the Co-Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Schultz received both his undergraduate and Master’s degree from The Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of a journal called Academic Psychiatry, and is on the Professional Advisory Boards of a website called Inside, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

In addition to his clinical and educational work, Dr. Schultz serves as an international consultant on issues related to the neuropsychology and appropriate education of children and young adults with ADHD & LD and other special needs. In his current role as neuropsychological consultant to several large school districts in the Boston area, he is on the ground, in schools and working with kids and their teachers several days each week.

Dr. Schultz created an award-winning video called “Einstein and Me” about living successfully with a learning disability, and has written extensively about children with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. He has a special education and psychology blog on the Huffington Post. His book, called Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) which examines the role of stress in learning, has received international acclaim.


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