Learning disability in children
What is a learning disability?
- Learning disabilities are neurological (brain) disorders that make it hard for a person to store, understand, or produce information.
- A learning disability is like having a physical disability. But, instead of having difficulty walking or talking, children with learning disabilities have difficulty learning.
- Since you can't see that a person has a learning disability, sometimes it is left unnoticed and untreated.
- Children with learning disabilities may do well in one subject at school but have problems with another. Your child may be great at math but be unable to write a complete sentence.
What are the different kinds?
There are different kinds of learning disabilities. A child may have more than one. There are 3 main types:
- A child with a reading disability probably reads below grade level. He may have problems reading aloud and often mix up letters and sounds.
- A child with a writing disability has trouble with spelling, punctuation, and handwriting.
- A child with dyslexia has trouble with both reading and writing.
- A child with a math disability has problems with numbers and math symbols.
Speech and Language
- A child with an articulation disorder has problems speaking. He may speak too fast or slow and have a hard time with certain letters (saying "wabbit" instead of "rabbit.")
- A child with an expressive disorder can speak well but has problems using speech. He may call things by the wrong name or have problems responding to people.
- A child with a receptive disorder has problems understanding speech. He can hear fine but has a hard time making sense of what he hears.
- A child with attention disorder often daydreams, has a short attention span, is unable to concentrate, or may be overly active. He may be impulsive (acting out before he thinks).
- Two kinds are Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
What causes a learning disability?
- Learning disabilities may be caused by a problem with the nervous system or brain.
- They tend to run in families. A child is more likely to have a learning disability if someone else in the family has one, too.
- They could be caused by drug use during pregnancy.
- Learning disabilities are not caused by teachers, schoolwork, culture, or family.
Who can get a learning disability?
- Learning disabilities affect at least 1 in 10 schoolchildren.
- Boys tend to be diagnosed more often than girls. This may be due to the fact that boys usually get more attention at school for misbehaving than girls.
What are some signs of a learning disability?
- All children may have the problems listed below from time to time. This is normal.
- It is normal for children to have problems learning things at certain ages. It takes time for children to learn.
- A child with a learning disability has these problems more often or even all the time. He has problems doing the same things that other children his age have already learned.
- A child with a learning disability may:
- have a hard time understanding and following instructions.
- have a hard time remembering things he was told.
- have problems in reading, spelling, writing, and/or math. He may be "behind" in school.
- have a hard time telling right from left.
- reverse letters, words, or numbers ("d" for "b", 35 for 53, or "was" for "saw").
- have poor coordination. He may have a hard time tying his shoes, holding a pencil, or walking.
- lose things a lot, like books and homework.
- be confused about time. He may not understand "yesterday," "today," or "tomorrow."
Do children with learning disabilities have other problems?
- Children with learning disabilities usually have normal intelligence.
- The disability creates a "gap" between a person's ability and his performance.
- A child may have more than one disorder. For example, a child who has one language disorder commonly has another.
- Children may have problems related to their disability. For example:
- People may not understand your child's disability. They may say he is lazy, retarded, slow, or "bad."
- This can make your child feel frustrated. He may think he is stupid and feel bad about himself.
- Your child may misbehave because he feels frustrated or because he would rather people notice him for being bad than notice that he is "stupid."
What can I do to help my child?
- It is best if problems are treated beginning at a young age.
- If problems are not treated, the child may fall behind in school.
- If you think your child has a learning disability, a doctor should test him as soon as possible.
- Also, contact your child's school. He will need to be tested by teachers, too.
- Your child can get the best help when a group of people works together. This is often called a multi-disciplinary team. It can be made up of:
- Family doctor.
- Learning disability experts.
- Child or adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist.
- Teachers, counselors, child care staff.
- School professionals.
- Parents and family members.