Understanding Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are a term used to refer to a wide variety of learning problems. A learning disability should not be misinterpreted as a problem with intelligence or motivation. Children with learning disabilities are just as smart as everyone else. Their brains are simply wired differently and this affects how they receive and process information, thus affecting their learning. Children with learning disabilities see, hear, and understand things differently, which can lead to difficulties with learning new skills and putting them to use. While every kid has trouble with learning new things at school from time to time, but if a specific area of learning is consistently problematic, it might be a sign of a learning disorder.
Types of Learning Disabilities
The most common types of learning disabilities involve problems with reading, writing, math, reasoning, listening, and speaking. They can be categorized into the following:
- Dyslexia is a language-based disability in which the child has trouble understanding written words. It is also referred to as a reading disability or reading disorder.
- Dyscalculia is a mathematical disability in which a child has trouble solving arithmetic problems and grasping mathematic concepts.
- Dysgraphia is a writing disability in which a child finds it hard to form letters or write within a clearly defined space.
- Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders include sensory disabilities in which a child has difficulty interpreting language despite normal hearing and vision.
- Nonverbal Learning Disabilities include neurological disorders that originates in the right hemisphere of the brain, causing problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative, and holistic processing functions.
Diagnosing a Learning Disability Learning disabilities can often be hard to detect or diagnose, because there is no definitive list of symptoms that fit every child. Many children try to hide the problem with no obvious signs than complaints about homework or not wanting to go to school. However, the following may be signs of a learning disorder:
- Lack of interest or enthusiasm for reading or writing
- Trouble remembering things
- Working at a slower pace
- Trouble following instructions
- Trouble staying focused on a task
- Difficulty understanding abstract concepts
- Lack of attention or too much attention to detail
- Poor social skills
- Disruptive behaviour
Spotting the early signs of a possible learning disability can help parents get their child the help they need as soon as possible. That’s why it is important to pay attention to your child’s developmental milestones. Delays in reaching developmental milestones such as late walking or talking or difficulty with socialization can be signs of a learning disorder in younger children.
Intervention for Learning Disabilities
Special education is the most common intervention method for learning disorders. After conducting an assessment to pinpoint where your child is having problems in learning, a team of special educators will create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child that outlines what special support they need to keep up at school. Special educators will then help your child build on their strengths and teach learning strategies that work for them.
Many other resources are available to support your child, like:
- Inclusive private schools that specialize in working with children with learning disabilities
- After-school programs designed for children with learning disabilities
- Home tutoring and therapy services
It can be tough to face the possibility that your child has a learning disorder. No parent wants to see their children lag behind in school or feel insecure. You may wonder what it could mean for your child’s future, or worry if your child will make it through school. Perhaps you’re concerned that by calling attention to your child’s learning problems they might be labeled “slower” or assigned to a less challenging class.
But the important thing to keep in mind is that most children with learning disabilities just need to be taught in ways that are tailored to their unique learning styles. A learning disability doesn’t have to be a roadblock to success. With the right tools, people with learning disabilities can overcome any challenge.