Case Studies

Case Studies

Barbara Rissman (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9539-9.ch007


This chapter is taken from five illustrative case study reports resulting from doctoral research. Each case gave the researched a voice. The study selected five students at Level 1 risk of manifesting virtually all NLD assets and deficits as a consequence of shunted hydrocephalus related to spina bifida then spoke with their parents, teachers, aides and the students themselves. Each case begins with a brief description of the medical condition that predisposed each child to NLD followed by the contextual setting derived from family members. A snapshot of each student's life, classroom performance, psychological test results, teacher, aide, and parent perceptions of functional abilities, and the level of each participant's awareness of the NLD syndrome are then considered. Interpretative Discussions include teacher and aide understandings of the difficulties interspersed with those of the author. Practical help from teachers, aides, parents, and students is offered at the end of each case study. Case Studies conclude with a catalog of Key Terms and Definitions.
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Introduction To Case Studies

Hydrocephalus is a major complication of spina bifida, a neural tube defect that results from failure of the spine to close properly. Spina bifida is relatively common, “occurring 10 to 20 times per 1,000 births” (Mosby, Inc., 2013, p. 1671). Today, 95% of individuals with spina bifida have hydrocephalus that is treated with a shunting procedure (Lutkenhoff & Oppenheimer, 1997). A pre-selection interview with primary caregivers and review of existing psychometric data by a developmental pediatrician and neuropsychologist identified five students with a blueprint of NLD characteristics. Participating students were aged 9-16 years and all attended mainstream Australian schools. Nineteen teachers, six teacher aides, thirteen parents, two grandparents, and five students participated in two interview phases. A total of 43 interviews were conducted. Interview transcriptions were clarified and checked through the member checking process in a fair and unbiased way. Corroboration with each informant tested the accuracy of interview transcripts and provided opportunity for expansion before the data analysis phase. On completion of interviews, a psychological test battery designed for the study was administered to determine the NLD status of each student. The test battery was developed by a developmental pediatrician, neuropsychologist, psychologist, and speech language pathologist. All tests were listed in the university register of approved procedures. (For more details, see Chapter entitled The Road to Diagnosis and Post-School Life). Test results added to the richness of case study descriptions and provided a contextual background for case study reports. This sequence allowed exploration of perceptions without influence of researcher views derived from test findings.

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