Learning disorders affect how a person understands, remembers and responds to new information. People with learning disorders may have problems
Listening or paying attention
Reading or writing
Although learning disorders occur in very young children, they are usually not recognized until the child reaches school age. About one-third of children who have learning disabilities also have ADHD, which makes it hard to focus. Evaluation and testing by a trained professional can help identify a learning disorder.
The next step is special education, which involves helping your child in the areas where he or she needs the most help. Sometimes tutors or speech or language therapists also work with the children. Learning disorders do not go away, but strategies to work around them can make them less of a problem. Learning disabilities are usually not diagnosed until students have been in school for about two years, but there are often early signs of disabilities that parents may notice. More importantly, there are also strategies and resources that can help.
What is a learning disability? A learning disability is a neurological condition that affects a child's brain and impairs his ability to carry out one or many specific tasks. These tasks include being able to read, write, speak, listen, and calculate. A learning disabled child is neither slow nor mentally retarded. An affected child can have normal or above average intelligence. This is why a child with a learning disability is often wrongly labelled as being smart but lazy. A learning disability can also be defined as a difference seen between a child's learning capacity and his actual learning ability This is because his brain finds it difficult to understand certain signals and prevents him from processing the information associated with those signals.
What causes a learning disability? There is no one common factor that causes a learning disability in a child. In most cases, it is inherited. A child with a learning disability most likely has a parent who also displayed difficulties with learning skills but may not have been diagnosed. Learning disabilities have also been associated with impaired brain development. This could be due to a variety of factors such as premature birth, infection, oxygen deprivation, and exposing the foetus to drugs or alcohol.
After-birth causes include physical injury to the head region, improper nutrition, and exposure to toxic substances, which interfere with normal brain development.
1. Early Signs of LD: Know the Risks and Contributors to Learning Disabilities. The presence of early risk factors does not conclusively cause a child to have learning disabilities, but it indicates a need to monitor for early intervention needs.
2. Early Childhood Delays Should be Monitored for Signs of LDs Developmental Delays in any of the following can suggest the potential for learning disabilities: Gross Motor - Large muscle movements such as standing, walking, or pulling up; Fine Motor - Small muscle movements such as grasping objects, moving fingers and toes; Communication - Ability to understand language or to use speech; Cognitive Skills - Ability to think and solve problems; and Social/Emotional - Ability to interact appropriately with others and show appropriate emotional responses.
3. Early Signs of Potential Learning Disabilities - When Delays are a Problem: Developmental milestones are reached at predictable rates, but mild differences in development among children are normal. Consequently, moderate delays do not always indicate a problem. It is important to be aware of typical development rates for infancy and early childhood so you can note when a possible delay may occur.
4. Routine Checkups can Detect Early Signs of Learning Disabilities and Delays: Your pediatrician will examine your baby at birth to check vital signs and your child's response to various stimuli. During regular checkups, throughout your child's early development, the doctor will check and monitor your child's physical development, cognitive functioning, vision, speech and language. Keep notes and questions to share your concerns. If there is evidence of a problem, referrals will be made at that time to early intervention specialists for evaluation and treatment if necessary.
5. Early Signs of Learning Disabilities can be Seen at School: After the first few months of preschool, schedule a meeting with your child's teacher. Share any concerns you have, and ask if your child is on track with development compared to other children. Public school districts provide screening and assessment to determine if developmental delays are present. If so, a school administrator will meet with you to discuss early intervention options available to you. An individual education plan, or similar family services, plan will be developed to address her needs.
6. Recognize Early Signs of Learning Disabilities as Basic Skills are Taught: Children continue to develop at different rates in primary school years. By the third year, children should be able to read simple chapter books at grade level, write simple sentences, add, subtract, and begin to multiply. Students may not perform these tasks with complete accuracy. It is normal for some letter reversals and mirror writing to appear in their work. Most students will learn to correct these errors with instruction.
7. Learning Disabilities Show Themselves in a Variety of Ways Does not connect letters and sounds. Cannot read grade-level text. Cannot understand what he reads. Cannot understand number concepts. Does not understand that numerals represent quantities. Cannot form letters or remember which letters stand for which sounds. Has difficulty following directions, even with help. Has poor memory. Has difficulty communicating with peers and adults. Cannot repeat information or copy items. Has difficulty following lines when cutting and Has difficulty with attention or behavior.
8. Is Your Child's Learning Problem Severe? Keep notes of your concerns to share with your child's teachers. Keep work samples, and go over these with the teacher. If you suspect your child has a disability, ask the teacher, principal, or counselor about assessment to determine if your child has a disability. They will help you through any screening activities, the process of assessment, and completing a referral for your child.