LEARNING DISABILITY
                                                       Complied by: Neetika Seth
                                               Counseling Psychologist (AmityCARE)

Learning disability is an unexpected & unexplained condition occurring in a child of average or above average intelligence characterized by significant delays in one or more areas of learning.

Children with learning disabilities exhibit a wide range of symptoms. These include problems with reading, mathematics, comprehension, writing, spoken language, or reasoning abilities. Hyperactivity, inattention and perceptual coordination may also be associated with learning disabilities but are not learning disabilities themselves. 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.

Among the symptoms commonly related to learning disabilities are:

  1. Any delay in language development
  2. Any speech disorder
  3. Coordination disorders
  4. Attention deficits & hyperactivity
  5. Undetermined hand preference
  6. Carrying out more than one instruction at a time
  7. Poor writing reversals
  8. Remembering sequences

When considering these symptoms , it is important to remain mindful of the following:

  No one will have all these symptoms.
  The number of symptoms seen in a particular child does not give an indication as to whether the disability is mild or severe. It is important to consider if the behaviors are chronic and appear in clusters.

Areas of learning involve

  Basic academic areas
Reading , writing, spelling, arithmetic, language expression & comprehension, ability to focus attention, visual perception.

  Non verbal areas
Persistence, organization, impulse control, social competence, coordination of movements, flexibility.

Specific Learning Disability

    1. Spelling- Dysorthographia
    2. Handwriting- Dysgraphia
    3. Arithmetic-Dyscalculia
    4. Comprehension- Dyssymbolia
    5. Speech- Dysphasia
    6. Reading- Dyslexia

Abnormal brain structure or function causes learning disabilities. These neurological abnormalities in the brain can result from:

  Genetics
  Factors Before Birth Or During Delivery
  Factors In Early Childhood
  Brain Trauma Or Tumors

The specialist will assess the child's strengths and weaknesses by administering tests. Some of the tests are written tests, and some are oral questions. In addition, the specialist will interview the parent about the history and details of the problems that are encountered.

The specialist who can do testing and make a diagnosis can be a:

  Clinical Psychologist
  School Psychologist
  Educational Psychologist
  Neuropsychologist
  Psychometrist
  Occupational Therapist
  Speech And Language Therapist

Early diagnosis of learning disabilities is very important. The earlier you catch the problem, the more available it is for correction. Some types of learning disabilities, if caught early, have very good prognoses.

A learning disability affects a person in all facets of life:

  School/Work
  Social/ Personal Relationships.
  Emotions
  Free time, etc

Both the person with the learning disability and other people around the individual must adjust to the challenges that the learning disability presents.

The student with learning disabilities often feels like a failure in school when compared to other students in some skill areas. Peers may ridicule the student with learning disabilities. Teachers may misunderstand the reason for the student's poor performance and tell the student to try harder. Siblings may be resentful or jealous of the attention given to the child with the learning disability

In addition, the learning-disabled individual may have social problems in the workplace, school, and home that result from poor self-esteem or from an inability to read social cues and thus show poor social skills and inability to initiate and maintain relationships.

The good news is that with proper help, most LD children can make excellent progress. There are many successful adults such as attorneys, business executives, physicians, teachers, etc. who had learning disabilities but overcame them and became successful.

Some tips for managing learning difficulties in the classroom:

  Seat the child near the teacher, away from the door and windows to minimize distraction.
  Use simple, brief, single-concept directions.
  Give instructions in a logical, sequential manner, using words that make the sequence clear (e.g. first,
    next, finally).
  Use visual aids or demonstrations to reinforce verbal instructions.
  When the child fails to understand an instruction, do not merely repeat it. Rephrase and simplify the    instruction.
  Do not demand that the child write and listen at the same time.
  Use the strategy of 'over learning' with the child. Insist on recapitulation of previously learnt concepts     before starting a new topic.
  Use colored chalk to color code questions from answers while writing on the blackboard.
  Allow the use of a table chart or calculator.