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Case Study – Mathew, a 4-year-old Male African American Student with a Learning Disability

Case Study – Mathew, a 4-year-old Male African American Student with a Learning Disability

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  • Who is the Child: A Case Study on Mathew, a 4-year-old male African American elementary school student with a Learning disability.
  • Areas of exceptionality: Learning Disabilities due to delays in speech acquisition

Objectives (What is it I want to know about the child? Why am I choosing the child?)

  • To study learning disabilities in elementary school students and how this type of disability is a hindrance to achieving the child’s academic goals.
  • To understand how lack of parent awareness and denial about children having a learning disability can influence their child’s school life
  • I chose Mathew because he represents children with learning disabilities who lack the necessary support from parents and caregivers, hence transitioning to adulthood without these problems being identified and addressed.

Content Data of the Child(Ethnicity, race, primary and secondary languages, any special needs)

  • Mathew is a 4-year-old elementary school student with a learning disability.
  • He represents students of African-American descent with learning disabilities.
  • His significant language is English.
  • Mathew’s parent’s attitudes and practices are a threat to addressing the child’s needs because they seem to be in denial about their child’s condition.

The Child’s Special Needs

  • He has learning disabilities due to speech acquisition problems
  • Mathew does not understand simple teacher instructions, like grabbing a book when asked.
  • Mathew is unable to respond to questions when given by teachers
  • Mathew does not know how to feed himself unless when supported
  • Despite having IEP support with specific resources to support his reading, his academic achievement is still a concern
  • Mathew has problematic behavior, such as randomly running around the classroom when the teacher is teaching
  • Mathew’s only area of interest is TV movie shows, and the teacher believes his parents allow the child to spend too much time with the tablet.
  • Mathew is unable to do anything on his own compared to other children his age.
  • Mathew’s teachers are concerned about her academic progress

Family and Community Information

Mathew comes from an African-American family and is the last child in a family of three siblings. Mathew’s family resides in a residential area dominated by an African-American community. His parents, David and Sharice, are casual workers in a recently established industry and seem to be struggling financially. Mathew’s elder sister is an honor roll high school student. Consistently, Mathew is not the only child with disabilities in his family, as his elder brother was diagnosed with learning disabilities that primarily affected his language in middle school. He seems to disengage mentally, physically, and emotionally in the classroom. Coming from a marginalized African-American community, Mathew has faced many challenges accessing the required facilities to help him in his academic work. According to research by Tatum (2000), the concept of identity is shaped by individual characteristics of dynamics of historical factors and social and political contexts. Most learners from minority communities are likely to face challenges that go unidentified or unaddressed due to the nature of the society they live in. Due to the denial of Mathew’s parents, it appears that his learning problems are not being addressed, and as a result, this issue may continue as the child gets older. Consequently, there is a need for teacher-parent collaboration to dig out these issues when the child is still young. Despite the teacher having a hard time contacting Mathew’s parents, the school should plan a visit to Mathew’s home and have an impromptu meeting with Mathew’s parents to share information and create awareness about the child’s problem.

Context of the Child

  • Mathew comes from a disadvantaged social group, and his problems could persist during adolescence and even continue throughout his life.
  • Despite having supportive resources such as IEP and a social worker to support him in the learning process, the school should;
  • Collaborate with Mathew’s parents to provide the child with speech therapy sessions to ensure Mathew receives appropriate emotional support to address his frustrations, especially when he finds tasks hard for him to handle.
  • Implement programs that support racially segregated communities with children with disabilities (McIntosh,1989)


  • Observing is a way or attitude of looking and attending to children with care, and both parents and teachers should collaborate in this process.
  • During the process of collecting data, I will prefer following a method of asking teachers, parents, and children close to them about the needs of students living with learning disabilities.
  • To successfully carry out this process, I recommend casting an inner eye on the particular child.
  • There is a need to engage parents and the community through outdoor outreach to study the home surroundings of the student.


McIntosh, P. (1989). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack – UMBC.

Tatum, B. D. (2000). The complexity of identity: Who am I. Readings for diversity and social justice2, 5-8


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Mathew, a 4-year-old Male African American Student with a Learning Disability

Mathew, a 4-year-old Male African American Student with a Learning Disability

Professor instruction: You will work on your own this week. Start your Carini work. Take time to think about and then submit your thoughts about the following:
• Who is your child?  Decide who your study will focus on.
• Decide on the question(s) driving your Case Study. What is it you want to know about this child? Why are you choosing this child to study?
• Collect content data on the child, ethnicity, race, and primary and secondary language special needs. Include any information that will paint a picture of the child-ex. include family and community information.
• Write up a draft of the background material and submit it using the link provided.
• The Carini work folder and the Carini letter are posted here for you to review again and reflect on the nature of this study. A PowerPoint is included to help explain where you are headed with all the data you are preparing. The guided writing information is to guide you as you write up the case study. It will help you to know your destination as you observe the child’s strengths in each of the categories in the Descriptive Review Process.
• What is the context for this child?

Okay, so this is the first part of my case study for my fieldwork, which is just collecting data by answering the questions above. You can use the resources of Carini ONLY; no outside resources. I will upload everything my class has read so far from Carini. I’ll also be adding a video link that we watched of Carini so you can use those resources to answer the questions. I have also uploaded some of my observation notes.

Carini video link:

Professor instruction: Carini Draft
Place your random or not-so-random thoughts here. Where are you in your observations and guided writings that will become the data you use to write up your case study?

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