Learning disabilities/difficulties/differences, whatever suffix we think best describes the child that has difficulties coping with learning. When a child struggles with school no matter how hard he/she tries or has a hard time deciphering letters in a book or on the board, that child needs to see a professional who can through an assessment determine what the real issues are.
Learning difficulties should not be mixed up with motivational or situational factors that could affect a child’s interest to learn, children experience this at some point or the other while growing up. Learning disability is a neurological condition that affects the way a child/person receives and processes information that could affect the person’s skills in reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information.
In which case these children may find it difficult to learn in conventional classroom settings or will be unable to manage given information without appropriate support.
Some common forms of learning disability include;
Dyslexia: a language based disability in which a person has difficulties understanding written words. It may also be referred to as a reading disorder.
Dyscalculia: a mathematical disorder in which a person has problems doing arithmetic and grasping maths.
Dysgraphia: a writing disorder in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.
Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders: when a child has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF LEARNING DISABILITIES
Learning disability looks different from one child to the other. One child may struggle with reading and spelling, while another loves book but cannot understand math. Still another child may have difficulty understanding what others are saying or communicating out loud. The problems vary from one child to the next but they are all learning disorders.
Again it may be sometimes difficult to identify a learning disorder particularly when there could be other factors responsible for a child’s presentation, hence the need to seek professional help when you suspect that your child could be having difficulties with learning. However the following red flags should help;
• Problems pronouncing words
• Trouble finding the right words to express self
• Trouble learning the alphabets, numbers, colours, e.t.c as a preschooler
• Confusing basic words when reading
• Consistently misspelling words or making reading errors
• Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences
• Trouble with open ended test questions
• Poor organisational skills
• Poor handwriting
• Inability to understand or narrate regular routines sequentially
• Difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills
• Slow in learning new skills
The list could be endless depending on the child’s peculiar challenges. This however does not mean the child cannot learn or would not succeed. It only means the child would require some extra support and that instructional materials have to be prepared and presented in a way that best suits the child’s learning style.
As parents it is not for us to despair as this would only reduce our ability to effectively cope with the situation. If your child is showing any of these signs there are 3 important things you can do:
• Get professional advise
• Seek out a school that has the right staff and resources to support your child
• Never stop believing in and, encouraging your child to be the best he/she can be
Remember there is potential in every child, we only have to look deep enough to unlock it.
Children Developmental Centre, Surulere, Lagos state.