Learning Disabilities in children are a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, analyze, or store information.
Learning Disabilities in children differ from one child to another. One child may struggle with reading or spellings, while another loves books, but can’t comprehend math skills. Thus, it interferes with reading, written expression, oral expression, or / and math. It also interferes with skills such as organization, time management, planning, attention, memory, analytical skills and social interaction. People with learning disabilities have intelligence that is average or superior.
The effects of learning disabilities in children are life-long. However, with appropriate help, individuals with learning disabilities can and do learn successfully. They can be distinguished achievers. There are plenty of successful public figures like Steven Spielberg, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Phelps, Richard Branson etc who have learning disabilities but have been productive individuals in society. People with learning disabilities just see, hear, or understand things differently.
Learning Disability – Identification:
If the child shows a number of problems related to learning given his or her intelligence and ability, then a possibility that a learning disability is present can be considered. It is then imperative to collect observations from school, parents and others who are in contact with that child and seek help by contacting a clinical psychologist / special educator for an evaluation.
Five Signs to check for Learning Disabilities in Children:
1. Learning Disability and Lack of Attention and Focus:
If you observe the following:
- Your child is unable to stay focused in completing a given task
- He gets restless and lacks attention to follow simple instructions, directions or learning routines
- He is unable to sit for a long period, keeps fidgeting and leaves tasks incomplete
- The school gives a similar feedback through observations
Then, it is time to seek intervention.
Academically, the child will struggle with reading, writing, math and other subjects due to lack of attention and focus. It causes problems in school and in everyday life. Simple examples would be inability to complete homework, assignments within the stipulated time.
The child may be considered lazy or defiant. He may be facing difficulties in concentrating on one activity at a time. The child can be tested for ADHD which is a common cause of focus problems.
2. Learning Disability and Difficulty with Motor Skills: If a child faces problems with movement, balance, posture, eye-hand coordination, processing, and some other cognitive skills, it is known as Dyspraxia. Here the child struggles with planning and completing tasks involving fine and gross motor skills.
The child may also have language problems. Tasks such as grooming (doing up buttons, tying shoelaces), handwriting (can’t hold a pencil with a good grip), jumping, catching a ball, using scissors, climbing up and down the stairs, spending a long time getting writing assignments done, remembering instructions and following them, clumsy movement and tendency to trip over, lack of rhythm when dancing or exercising.
However, these challenges do not exist in isolation. The child may have other challenges too. They may exist alongside ADHD, handwriting difficulties like Dysgraphia, Mental Health issues, like anxiety to name a few.
3. Learning Disability and Difficulty with Socializing: A child with learning challenges can also have social and communication problems. The child faces difficulty interacting and connecting with his or her peers. The child may play alongside others but not with them and may experience social anxiety. Children who have difficulty with socializing, think of themselves as weird and difficult to understand. Some miss out on social cues. They face difficulty in comprehending social information which is called as non-verbal learning disorder. Children with ADHD or Learning Disability or both try hard to hide their struggles. They have trouble interacting with their peers leading to lack of confidence and low self-esteem.
Also read: 10 things parents can do to help their kids with learning disabilities
4. Learning Disability involves Difficulty with Reading (Dyslexia), Writing (Dysgraphia) and Math (Dyscalculia):
Children with Dyslexia have trouble identifying and connecting letters and sounds, inability to associate letters with sounds, inability in breaking words into separate speech sounds, problems with reading that show no connection to the sound of the letters, inability to blend sounds to make words, difficulty with reading comprehension, exhibit dislike towards reading and writing. These children struggle with phonetic strategies, letter and word formation, spellings and organizing ideas.
They have difficulty with math problems, understanding time, using money, organization of numbers, sequencing while counting and simple mathematical operations.
5. Learning Disability and Memory:
Memory problems can lead to the following difficulties in learning:
- It can affect the child’s ability to follow directions
- Organize thoughts and ideas for writing and speaking
- Learn procedures involving multiple steps related to Math
The child may not show age appropriate ability to recall content, may know what he or she wants to say but struggles with organizing ideas, or communicating in a right manner. Thus, the child may experience anxiety due to incomplete tasks and his or her inability to recall information in writing or oral expression.
Remember, children with Learning Disabilities learn in different ways. Every child is unique. Love and support is what they need to help them become achievers of their dreams.
Author: Ms. Venetia Baptista
Teaching Faculty – Junior School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School