LEARNING DISABILITY & ITS PREVELANCE: Dr. Surbhi Rathi

Surabhi Rathi

Does your child struggle with school? Does he or she dread reading out loud, writing an

Essay, or tackling a math problem? While every kid has trouble with homework from time to time, if a certain area of learning is consistently problematic, it might indicate a learning disorder. This child needs the right help to overcome classroom challenges and succeed in life.

It is time to undo certain myths about children with Learning Disabilities

Learning disability is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Kids with learning disabilities aren’t lazy or dumb. In fact, most are just as smart as everyone else. Their brains are simply wired differently. This difference affects how they receive and process information.

Simply put, children and adults with learning disabilities see, hear, and understand things differently. This can lead to trouble with learning new information and skills, and putting them to use. The most common types of learning disabilities involve problems with reading, writing, math, reasoning, listening, and speaking.

Learning disabilities look very different from one child to another. One child may struggle with reading and spelling, while another loves books but can’t understand math. Still another child may have difficulty understanding what others are saying or communicating out loud. The problems are very different, but they are all learning disorders.

It’s not always easy to identify learning disabilities. Because of the wide variations, there is no single symptom or profile that you can look to as proof of a problem. However, some warning signs are more common than others at different ages. If you’re aware of what they are, you’ll be able to catch a learning disorder early and quickly take steps to get your child help.

Most recent studies have shown their prevalence to range from 7 to 10 percent ,an amazingly high figure !!

Some common red flags for learning disorders:

 Preschool age:

Problems pronouncing words

Trouble finding the right word

Difficulty rhyming

Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, days of the week

Difficulty following directions or learning routines

Difficulty controlling crayons, pencils, and scissors, or coloring within the lines

Trouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, learning to tie shoes

Ages 5-9

Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds

Unable to blend sounds to make words

Confuses basic words when reading

Slow to learn new skills

Consistently misspells words and makes frequent errors

Trouble learning basic math concepts

Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences

Ages 10-13

Difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills

Trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems

Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud

Poor handwriting

Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and

disorganized)

Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud

Spells the same word differently in a single document

It’s is very important to remember that even children who don’t have learning disabilities may experience some of these difficulties at various times. The time for concern is when there is a consistent unevenness in your child’s ability to master certain skills.

Common types of learning disabilities:

 Dyslexia – Difficulty with reading

Problems reading, writing, spelling, speaking

 Dyscalculia – Difficulty with math

Problems doing math problems, understanding time, using money

 Dysgraphia – Difficulty with writing

Problems with handwriting, spelling, organizing ideas

 Dyspraxia (Sensory Integration Disorder) –  Difficulty with fine motor skills.

Problems with hand-eye coordination, balance, manual dexterity

Dysphasia/Aphasia – Difficulty with language .Problems understanding spoken language, poor reading comprehension

Auditory Processing Disorder – Difficulty hearing differences between sounds. Problems with reading, comprehension, language

Visual Processing Disorder – Difficulty interpreting visual information.

Problems with reading, math, maps, charts, symbols, pictures

Problems with reading, writing, and math:

Learning disabilities are often grouped by school-area skill set. If your child is in school,

the types of learning disorders that are most conspicuous usually revolve around reading, writing, or math.

Learning disabilities in Reading (dyslexia)

There are two types of learning disabilities in reading.

Basic reading problems occur when there is difficulty understanding the relationship between sounds, letters and words.

Reading comprehension problems occur when there is an inability to grasp the meaning ofwords, phrases, and paragraphs.

Signs of reading difficulty include problems with:

  • letter and word recognition
  • understanding words and ideas
  • reading speed and fluency
  • general vocabulary skills

Learning disabilities in Math (dyscalculia)

Learning disabilities in math vary greatly depending on the child’s other strengths and

weaknesses. A child’s ability to do math will be affected differently by a language learning disability, or a visual disorder or a difficulty with sequencing, memory or organization.

A child with a math-based learning disorder may struggle with memorization and organization of numbers, operation signs, and number “facts” (like 5+5=10 or 5×5=25).

Children with math learning disorders might also have trouble with counting principles (such as counting by twos or counting by fives) or have difficulty telling time.

Learning disabilities in writing (dysgraphia)

Learning disabilities in writing can involve the physical act of writing or the mental activity of comprehending and synthesizing information.

Basic writing disorder refers to physical difficulty forming words and letters.

Expressive writing disability indicates a struggle to organize thoughts on paper.

Symptoms of a written language learning disability revolve around the act of writing.

They include problems with:

  • neatness and consistency of writing
  • accurately copying letters and words
  • spelling consistency , writing organization and coherence

What adds to the Difficulty??

Difficulty in school doesn’t always stem from a learning disability. Anxiety, depression,

stressful events, emotional trauma, and other conditions affecting concentration make

learning more of a challenge. In addition, ADHD and autism sometimes co-occur or are

confused with learning disabilities.

ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) while not considered a learning disability, it certainly disrupts learning. Children with ADHD often have problems sitting still, staying focused, following instructions, staying organized, and completing homework.

Autism – Difficulty mastering certain academic skills can stem from pervasive

developmental disorders such as autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Children with Autism may have trouble communicating, reading body language, learning basic skills, making friends, and making

eye contact.

The diagnosis and testing process for learning disabilities:

Diagnosing a learning disability is a process. It involves testing, history taking, and

observation by a trained specialist. Finding a reputable referral is important.

Start with your child’s school, and if they are unable to help you, ask your Pediatrician.

Several professionals coordinate services as a team to obtain an accurate

Diagnosis such as Clinical psychologists, Educational psychologists. Developmental Pediatrician ,Neuropsychologist, Occupational therapist (tests sensory disorders that can lead to learning problems).,Speech and language therapist

They may ask for input from your child’s teachers. Recommendations can then

be made for special education services or speech-language therapy within the school

system.

Getting help for children with learning disabilities:

When it comes to learning disabilities, it’s not always easy to know what to do and where to find help. Turning to specialists who can pinpoint and diagnose the problem is, of course, important. You will also want to work with your child’s school to make

accommodations for your child and get specialized academic help. But don’t overlook your own role. You know your child better than anyone else, so take the lead in looking into your options, learning about new treatments and services, and overseeing your child’s education.

 Integration, sequencing and abstraction: Technical terms for how a professional learning disorders specialist (Special educator) might refer to the importance of “integration” to learning. Integration refers to the understanding of information that has

been delivered to the brain, and it includes three steps: sequencing, which means

putting information in the right order; abstraction, which is making sense of the

information; and organization, which refers to the brains ability to use the information

to form complete thoughts

Learn the specifics about your child’s learning disability. Read and learn about your child’s type of learning disability. Find out how the disability affects the learning process and what cognitive skills are involved. It’s easier to evaluate learning techniques if you understand how the learning disability affects your child.

Research treatments, services, and new theories: Along with knowing about the type of learning disability your child has, educate yourself about the most effective treatment

options available. This can help you advocate for your child at school and pursue

treatment at home.

Pursue treatment and services at home. Even if the school doesn’t have the resources to treat your child’s learning disability optimally, you can pursue these options on your own at home or with a therapist or tutor.

Nurture your child’s strengths. Even though children with learning disabilities struggle in one area of learning, they may excel in another. Pay attention to your child’s interests and passions. Helping children with learning disorders develop their passions and strengths will probably help them with the areas of difficulty as well.

Social and emotional skills:

Learning disabilities can be extremely frustrating for children. Imagine having trouble with a skill all of your friends are tackling with ease, worrying about embarrassing yourself in front of the class, or struggling to express yourself. Things can be doubly frustrating for exceptionally bright children with learning disabilities–a scenario that’s not uncommon.

Kids with learning disabilities may have trouble expressing their feelings, calming

themselves down, and reading nonverbal cues from others. This can lead to difficulty in

the classroom and with their peers.

As a parent, you can have a huge impact in these areas. Social and emotional skills are the most consistent indicators of success for all children—and that includes kids with learning disorders. They outweigh everything else, including academic skills, in predicting lifelong achievement and happiness.

Learning disabilities, and their accompanying academic challenges, can lead to low self esteem, isolation, and behavior problems, but they don’t have to. You can counter these things by creating a strong support system for children with learning disabilities and helping them learn to express themselves, deal with frustration, and work through

challenges. By focusing on your child’s growth as a person, and not just on academic

achievements, you’ll help him or her learn good emotional habits that set the stage for

success throughout life.

Dr. Surbhi Rathi: Professor of Pediatrics at T.N.Medical Collegeand B.Y.L.Nair Hospital

After 12 years of having worked as part of the Team at the Life centre for Learning Disbilities in children, Dr Surbhi Rathi ,Professor of Pediatrics at T.N.Medical College and B.Y.L.Nair Hospital  has shared her wisdom with parents with regards to Learning Disbilities in children. The main focus of the article here is to empower each parent to know that it is not the end of your childs world if he or she is diagnosed to have LD and there is so much that can be done  as a team  to improve the ease with which the child can learn ….. If I cannot Learn the way you Teach then teach the way I can Learn  !!!

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