What is a Learning Disability?
Does your child struggle with school? Does he or she get stressed when reading out loud, writing an essay, or solving a math problem? While every child is unwilling to do homework from time to time, if a certain area of learning is consistently problematic, it might indicate a learning disorder. By understanding all you can about learning disabilities, you can ensure your child gets the right help to overcome classroom challenges and succeed in life.
Learning disabilities are neurologically-based processing problems. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math. They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention.
It is important to realize that learning disabilities can affect an individual’s life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends and in the workplace.
Learning disabilities, or learning disorders, are both terms for a wide range of learning problems. A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Children with learning disabilities aren’t lazy or dumb nor lack motivation to study. 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.
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.
Red flags of learning disabilities
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.
It’s not always easy to identify learning disabilities. 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.
Ages 3-5 signs
- Problems pronouncing words
- Trouble finding the right word
- Difficulty rhyming words
- 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 zippers, buttons, snaps, learning to tie shoes
Ages 5-9 signs
- Difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds
- Unable to blend sounds to make words
- Confuses basic words when reading
- Consistently misspells words and makes frequent reading errors
- Trouble learning basic math concepts
- Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences
- Slow to learn new skills
Ages 10-13 signs
- Difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills
- Trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems
- Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud
- Spells the same word differently in a single document
- Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized)
- Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud
- Poor handwriting
How Can I Help?
It can be tough to face the possibility that your child has a learning disorder. No parents want to see their children suffer. You may wonder what it could mean for your child’s future, or worry about how your kid will make it through school. Perhaps you’re concerned that by calling attention to your child’s learning problems he or she might be labelled “slow” or assigned to a less challenging class.
But the important thing to remember is that most kids with learning disabilities are just as smart as everyone else. They just need to be taught in ways that are tailored to their unique learning styles. By learning more about learning disabilities in general, and your child’s learning difficulties in particular, you can help pave the way for success at school and beyond.
I am here to offer you support and assistance. The sooner you move forward, the better your child’s chances for reaching his or her full potential.
If you suspect that your child may have a learning disability, I can conduct an assessment that will provide information on your child’s overall abilities, particularly learning style, information processing abilities, and academic skills.
Don’t let anyone tell you to “wait and see” or “don’t worry about it” if you see your child struggling. Regardless of whether or not your child’s problems are due to a learning disability, intervention is needed. You can’t go wrong by looking into the issue and taking action.