“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is incapable.” Learning disabilities in children is something which needs to be addressed at a very initial stage.
These words are true for every child facing any form of disability. Children with disabilities are differently-abled and hence it is important to understand challenges they may face.
Learning disabilities in children are ones that get highlighted in the earlier stages through their academic and non-academic interactions. These disabilities may show signs at a very early age – as early as preschool – where children may face difficulties in pronouncing words, learning routines or may even find it difficult to use crayons or tie shoe laces. Children who do not have disabilities too may experience these difficulties later on in their lives.
However, it is the consistent lack to master a certain skill that acts as a red flag. Let us try to gain an insight about these disabilities.
Try reading the text given in the image below:
Learning Disabilities in Children
(It says ‘This typography is not designed to recreate what it would be like to read if you were a dyslexic, it is designed to stimulate the feeling of reading with a dyslexic by slowing the reading time of viewer to a speed of which someone who has dyslexia would read’)
Dyslexia is one of the learning disabilities in children that affects reading and related language-based processing skills.
Signs to lookout for:
- Letter and word recognition
- Reading speed and fluency
- Understanding words and ideas (comprehension)
- General vocabulary skills
Also read: 5 Effective ways for Educators to manage Dyslexia
Quite a few children dread mathematics. Some even tend to get anxious while dealing with mathematical concepts. However, for a child with dyscalculia, these difficulties are severe and disable them when working with the subject.
A child with math-based disability will:
- Struggle with memorization and organization of numbers
- Have trouble identifying and using mathematical symbols
- Face difficulty in understanding and manipulating relationship between numbers
- Have trouble with counting principles and telling time.
It affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills. Basic writing disability involves physical difficulty in forming letters and words. Expressive writing disability refers to trouble organizing thoughts on paper.
Manifestations of dysgraphia can be seen through:
- Tight awkward pencil grip and body position
- Difficulties with spelling
- Poor handwriting and thus lack of neatness in work
- Aversion to tasks that require the child to write or draw
- Large gap between written expression as opposed to understanding demonstrated through verbal expression
Learning Disabilities in Children
Overlaps between two forms of learning disabilities have also been noticed. For example, a child dealing with dyslexia and dysgraphia. These overlaps make the task of comprehension even more difficult. The example below illustrates the same:
Disabilities and conditions that affect learning
Dyspraxia and Dysphasia are terms that are often used in the context of learning disabilities in children. Let us understand what each of these terms mean and how they affect learning.
Dyspraxia is not considered to be a learning disability. However, it is a disability that can impact learning. Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to plan and process motor movements.
Motor difficulties include gross and fine motor skills. Children with dyspraxia find it difficult to join in playground games which require them to catch a ball, run and maintain body balance. These children may find it difficult to concentrate and or perform tasks such as using scissors, solving a jigsaw puzzle or copying things from the blackboard. It even hampers judgement, processing, memory and some of the other cognitive skills required for learning.
Dysphasia is a condition that can affect a child’s ability to produce and understand spoken language. Dysphasia can cause reading, writing and gesturing impairments. It may be expressive or receptive in nature. In expressive dysphasia, the child will have difficulty producing speech, though they may understand the meaning of what is being spoken to them. Receptive dysphasia, on the other hand, is a condition where the child is often able to speak, but without the comprehension of meaning.
Children with expressive dysphasia will struggle to find words. They will speak slowly, may omit words or use smaller words. Children with receptive dysphasia, however, will struggle or take extra time to understand speech. They may struggle to understand simple questions or misinterpret their meaning. All of these factors act as roadblocks to learning.
The link below will help us understand the difficulties faced by children with speech, language and communication difficulties:
They Way We Talk
As we gain a brief understanding of what each of these learning disabilities in children mean and how they may affect children, it is equally important to realize that each of these children will have certain strengths that will help them deal with these gaps. Strategies that enhance and further build on these strengths need to be formulated and used. Awareness will help in creating an inclusive environment. So let’s give the fish a beautiful pool while it learns to glide beautifully!
Image source is Pexels
Author: Ms. Akshada Kulkarni
Teaching Faculty – Junior School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School