learning disability

February 7, 2019

What are learning disabilities?

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Learning disabilities are known as “Hidden Disabilities” where children face challenges in various areas especially academics and in implementing certain skills which includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, math, reasoning etc. Person may suffer from learning disability in any one area or together more.

Learning disabilities are not same as intellectual disabilities. Learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages. Researchers found that learning disabilities are caused by differences in how a person’s brain works and how it processes information. Children with learning disabilities are not “dumb” or “lazy.” In fact, they usually have average or above average intelligence. Their brains just process information differently.

Discrepancy is the corner stone of assessment and diagnosis. There is no “cure” for learning disabilities. They are life-long. However, children with learning disabilities can be high achievers and can be taught ways to get around the learning disability. With the right help, children with learning disabilities can and do learn successfully.

 

What are The Common Types????

           

  1. Dyslexia: A specific learning disability that affects reading fluency, reading comprehension, recall, writing, spelling, sometimes speech and related language based processing skills. Dyslexia is sometimes referred to as a Language-Based Learning Disability. Dyslexia afflicts 80% among all learning disabilities.
  2. Dyscalculia: This affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts. Individuals with this type of LD may also have poor comprehension of math symbols, may struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, have difficulty telling time, or have trouble with counting.
  3. Dysgraphia: Persons having this faces problems in written expression. Children with dysgraphia struggle with various aspects of written output, including handwriting, fine motor skills, spatial organization, spelling, and written language.
  4. Language Learning Disorder (LLD): A specific type of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) in which there is difficulty attaching meaning to sound groups that form words, sentences and stories. Difficulties in processing these sounds undermine the development of spoken and written language. . It should be noted that males are more likely to present with problems than females.
  5. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD): Individuals with APD do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. They can also find it difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, to make sense of the order of sounds, or to block out competing background noises.
  6. Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities: Persons belong to this type show a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual-spatial and social skills. Typically, have trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language, and may have poor coordination.
  7. Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit: Persons having this face difficulties in finding subtle differences in shapes or printed letters, losing place frequently, struggles with cutting, holding pencil too tightly, or poor eye/hand coordination.

Most co-morbid condition:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty in controlling behaviour and restlessness/ hyperactivity and impulsivity. Research indicates that from 30-50 percent of children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability, and that the two conditions can interact to make learning extremely challenging.

What are the signs?

Signs of learning disabilities are not limited to one; persons may have more signs together. Professionals look various areas in order to find out the accurate diagnosis. They see the differences between what is the ability of the child to perform and how well the present performance. Since children experience difficulties in their academics, it tends to be more identifiable in elementary schools.

Early signs:

  • Reads very slowly
  • Difficulty with basic letter-sound associations (phonics)
  • Has trouble decoding, order of letters become mixed up (reversals)
  • Marked discrepancy between listening comprehension and reading comprehension
  • Difficulty with sequencing
  • Delays in arithmetic procedures, including adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing
  • Difficulty with quantitative concepts, e.g., money, time
  • Awkward pencil/pen grip
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Frustration with writing thoughts on paper
  • Marked discrepancy between oral and written expression
  • Academic delay – particularly poor comprehension, reading and writing affecting subjects across the curriculum
  • competence in some practical aspects of development (for example, sport or graphics),but less competence in other areas
  • Distracted by background noises
  • Lack of awareness of nonverbal cues such as facial expressions
  • Associated with social skills deficits
  • Weak fine and gross motor skills
  • Discrepancy between measures of verbal and non-verbal ability
  • Has difficulty following directions
  • Has trouble following conversations
  • Lack of awareness of nonverbal cues such as facial expressions
  • May have trouble understanding jokes, comic strips and sarcasm
  • Associated with social skills deficits
  • Weak fine and gross motor skills
  • Discrepancy between measures of verbal and non-verbal ability

A child probably won’t show all of these signs, or even most of them. However, if a child shows a number of these problems and then parents and the teacher should consider the possibility that the child has a learning disability and should seek clinical help within concerned professionals.

How prevalent are these?

About 5-15% of school-going children have this disability. Dyslexia (reading difficulties) is the most common and most studied one, affecting 80% of all those identified as learning-disabled. There are significant gender differences: boys are more often affected in developmental dyslexia than girls (4:1). However, in developmental dyscalculia and language difficulties, there are no noticeable differences. Considering Indian scenario, information about SLD is sparse. The incidence of dyslexia in Indian primary school children has been reported to be 2-18%, dysgraphia 14%, and dyscalculia 5.5%. However, its awareness as a significant cause of academic underachievement has recently increased.

How to assess?

If a child has unexpected problems learning to read, write, listen, speak, or do math, then teachers and parents may want to investigate more. The same is true if the child is struggling to do any one of these skills. The child may need to be evaluated to see if he or she has a learning disability. The professionals use appropriate test materials to investigate more which aim in management as well.

Treatment

 

Though learning disability cannot be cured, it can be managed effectively by proper treatment methods used by clinical psychologists and other concerned professionals like special educators, audiologist and speech language pathologists and so on.

Additionally, parents training and teachers training are essential to manage learning disabilities.

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