All children have the potential to learn. However, children’s minds work in different ways. For some children, learning to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations is extremely difficult due to a learning disability. Despite a child having average or above average intelligence, these learning disabilities may have an effect on making friendships, on concentrating, on being able to remember and on the ability to understand and use language. A child may have difficulty processing information in sequential order; therefore, experiencing difficulty with organizing ideas and materials. Another child may have difficulty processing information simultaneously, which may result in being unable to perceive a shape and/or a concept as a whole. Some learning disorders can have an effect on how the brain processes information that comes in visually, or processing information that comes in aurally.
Another kind of learning disorder makes it difficult for a child to solve problems and reason with abstract information. Some learning disorders affect the way the child’s muscles work. Messages that are not being sent clearly from the brain to the muscles can make writing difficult and also cause the child a great deal of difficulty with certain sports and activities in social situations.
All too often students have more than one kind of learning disorder. Therefore, careful screening through formal evaluations and continual on-going classroom observations must occur to determine a child’s strengths and weaknesses and how the child processes information. In other words, it must be determined where the child is stuck and what is successfully working for that child.
What are the causes of Learning Disorders?
We are not sure what causes learning disabilities. We do know that it frequently has to do with differences in the way a person’s brain works. Often when speaking to parents of children with learning disorders we find that these disorders seem to be prevalent in families. A brother or sister, father, mother, cousin or uncle and aunt may have also experienced learning disorders. An accident or illness earlier in life may have caused the difficulty, but it is quite difficult to pinpoint that as being the cause of the learning disorder.
What are the emotional and behavioral aspects of a learning disability?
From the time a child emerges from under the covers in the morning until he returns to that same security at night, he strives to be successful and to avoid humiliation at all costs, especially with peers. If a child learns easily and is successful in the eyes of his peers, his teachers and his parents, then school is an enjoyable experience. If the child does not learn easily and is not successful, he or she may suffer a loss of self-esteem, self-worth, confidence and motivation to learn. Sometimes these children then put on disguises, hoping that other kids will not find out they are having learning difficulties. These disguises might include being very cool, becoming a class clown, acting tough and getting into fights, pretending not to care about school, criticizing school (saying it’s useless or dumb) or becoming very quiet in order not to be noticed (Levine, 1993).
Helping the parent and child to understand and accept not only the learning disorder, but also the strengths of the child, is the beginning of knowing that learning disorders can be worked on and compensations can be made.
Where can a parent get help?
You first need to recognize the problem and then overcome any embarrassment or guilt you might have about the problem. That can take a great deal of courage on your part. But remember, the beginning of improvement is acceptance and getting help from the experts. The following is a list of professionals who can help you and your child understand the learning disorders:
- Tutors (Educational Therapists) – They can help you and your child understand the learning problems and develop strategies to deal with them.
- Remedial Reading Specialists – They can help improve your child’s reading skills.
- Classroom Teacher – By working with the teacher, you and the teacher, can develop an understanding of the learning problems your child may be experiencing.
- Educational Diagnostician – They can help develop a learning profile that describes your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Psychologists – They can help you understand your child’s learning problems as well as personal problems.
- Psychiatrists – They can help deal with family problems and with the child’s feelings. They can also prescribe medicine.
- Speech/Language Pathologists – They can help diagnose and improve a child’s language skills.
- Occupational Therapists – They can evaluate and remediate sensory integration and motor skill disorders.
- Neurologists – They, along with pediatricians, can take a closer look at how your child’s nervous system is working and any problems related to it.
- Pediatricians and Family Doctors – They can often help you in understanding your child’s learning problems or refer you to a professional who can help you. Developmental pediatricians specialize in children with learning disorders.
Check the following for more information about learning disabilities:
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