Learning Problems or Learning Disabilities are certain childhood disorders which affect the proper functioning of certain skills such as reading or writing in individuals with normal intelligence. Learning Problems are characterized by the inability to interpret what one sees and hears or the inability to link information from different parts of the brain. These inabilities can show up in many ways - as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control, or attention. Such difficulties extend to school work and can hamper learning to read or write, or to do maths. Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions and in certain cases, affect many parts of a person's life: school or work, daily routines, family life, and sometimes even friendships and play. In some kids, many overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Others may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their lives. Learning disabilities are more common in boys than girls, possibly because boys tend to mature more slowly.
LD's can be categorised generally as -
Dyslexia - Basic reading and reading comprehension are the two broad categories of reading disabilities. Dysgraphia - Problems in Basic writing and Expressive writing Dyscalculia - Problems in Basic Maths and Applied Maths Dysphasia/aphasia or Receptive Language Disability - Problems affecting the ability to understand spoken and sometimes written, language Dyspraxia -It refers to a variety of difficulties with motor skills. Dyspraxia can cause difficulty with single step tasks such as combing hair or waving goodbye, multi-step tasks like brushing teeth or getting dressed, or with establishing spatial relationships such as being able to accurately position one object in relation to another. Attention Deficit Disorders - Behavioural problems which affect Learning.
Causes of Learning Problems / Learning Disabilities
The causes of Learning Disabilities are not well understood. Sometimes there is no apparent cause for a learning problems. However most causes are linked with neurological damage or damages.
Hereditary - Learning disabilities often run in the family. Pregnancy and Birth Related - Learning disabilities can result from anomalies in the developing brain, illness or injury, foetal exposure to alcohol or drugs, low birth weight, oxygen deprivation, or by premature or prolonged labour. Accidents after birth - Learning disabilities can also be caused by head injuries, malnutrition, or by toxic exposure (such as heavy metals or pesticides). Behavioural Factors - Disabilities caused by behaviour pattern of a child Social environment factors - The surrounding environment in which a child grows up. Cognitive Factors - These are related to the connection between a person's biology and mental processes including the structure or chemistry of the brain
How to Identify it ? / Symptoms of Learning Problems
There are many signs which will indicate Learning Disabilities. The primary characteristic of a learning disability is a significant difference between a child's achievement in some areas and his or her overall intelligence. Parents need to keep an eye on the grades of their children. They should also observe their behaviour and look for any signs of change or abnormality in behaviour. Some of the common symptoms are :
Poor performance in group tests
Difficulty discriminating size, shape, colour
Difficulty with temporal (time) concepts
Distorted concept of body image
Reversals in writing and reading
Poor visual-motor coordination
Difficulty copying accurately from a model
Slowness in completing work
Poor organizational skills
Easily confused by instructions
Difficulty with abstract reasoning and/or problem solving
Often obsesses on one topic or idea
Poor short-term or long-term memory
Impulsive behaviour; lack of reflective thought prior to action
Low tolerance for frustration
Excessive movement during sleep
Poor peer relationships
Overly excitable during group play
Poor social judgement
Inappropriate, unselective, and often excessive display of affection
Lags in developmental milestones (e.g. motor, language)
Behaviour often inappropriate for situation
Failure to see consequences for his actions
Overly gullible; easily led by peers
Excessive variation in mood and responsiveness
Poor adjustment to environmental changes
Overly distractable; difficulty concentrating
Difficulty making decisions
Lack of hand preference or mixed dominance
Difficulty with tasks requiring sequencing
How to Deal with it ?
Consult with your doctor and ask for a referral. Sometimes a sight or hearing problem, family stress, worry, or communication problems can affect a child's ability to learn well.
Parents should contact the child's school and arrange for testing and evaluation. If these tests indicate that the child requires special educational services then it is a wise thing to do.
Parents should take the child to the family paediatrician for a complete physical examination. The child should be examined for correctable problems (e.g. poor vision or hearing loss) that may cause difficulty in school.
Parents should learn as much as they can about their child's LD. Find out How your child learns best or What works best for your child? What are his/her special skills, talents, and interests? This information can help you motivate and foster your child's learning. Be open to other ways of learning. The senses, movement, and listening are all ways of gathering information.
Encouragement towards his/her special talent can make really shine in that area and it helps them feel like a success.
Give your child unconditional love and support.
Accepting your own mistakes and showing that that mistakes can be useful and lead to solutions will make him understand that mistakes do not equal failure
Help your child understand their learning problems and talk about them. Focus on coping skills.
Provide good food, enough rest, play, and family outings so that your child stays strong in body and mind.
Join a support group for parents of kids with LDs. A support group can help you feel less alone, get information, and learn strategies from other parents.
Get involved in your child's education and stay in close touch with your child's school.
Teachers should be consulted to provide consistency and reinforcing and expanding on what's taught in the classroom.
Discuss homework strategies with your child's teacher and learn how to be an efficient homework helper at home.
Provide an organized home with time and a place for study.