Learning disabilities are when people have trouble processing what their brain takes in. The brain takes in sensory information in the forms of sight, smell, hearing, and by touch. Children and adults who have learning disabilities see, hear, and understand things differently than the rest of the world. This does not mean that this person is not intelligent. People with learning disabilities normally have IQ scores that fall into the normal range.
Learning disabilities are often misunderstood and frequently children are not diagnosed or treated quickly or properly due to this. Children who have learning disabilities cannot overcome them by trying to concentrate harder or pay more attention to things. They have what is equivalent to a short circuit in an area of their brain where their learning centers are located. They need special help in order to learn how to compensate for the disorder that they have as well as find a way that they can learn the information needed for their education.
There are several different types of learning disabilities that have been recognized and identified to date. These include reading disorders and disorders of written expression. This disorder affects learning by causing reading comprehension and decoding to be difficult. Communication disorders include stuttering, expressive language disorder, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, and phonological disorder. This disorder affects speaking, listening, and understanding verbal language. There is also a mathematical disorder and a developmental and coordination disorder. The mathematical disorder affects computation and problem solving.
Some of the early warning signs of learning disabilities that may show up in preschoolers include not being able to understand verbal commands or when being spoken to. The child may have difficulty in drawing or coloring and may also have problems with coordination. Children with learning disabilities may have short attention spans and may take a long time when naming simple objects.
Signs and symptoms of learning disorders in the school age child include trouble remembering what they have been just been told, having problems distinguishing between left and right, tendencies to reverse numbers or letters, has a lot of difficulty understanding and following instructions, has no real concept of time and has trouble keeping up with their homework and books.
There are certain diseases and disorders that can cause problems and make it very hard for a child to concentrate as well as their ability to learn. Some of these disorders include auditory and visual processing disorders such as dyslexia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, disorders such as Autism and Asperger’s, and sensory integration dysfunction. There are some environmental or emotional factors that can cause issues such as anxiety, depression, emotional trauma and stressful events. These can cause problems with learning as well. It is important to have a child evaluated by a professional such as a school psychologist if they start to exhibit any of the behaviors listed above.
If a child has exhibited these behaviors then a consultation should be set up with a psychologist and testing should be done to find what the underlying cause is for the delays in learning. Once testing is done an IEP or individual evaluation and plan should be put into place. Parents, teachers, the principal, and the psychologist should sit down together to work out a future plan to give the child the best individual educational plan possible to work with their learning disorder if applicable.
There are some things that parents can do at home for their children who have learning disorders. For children who have problems with reading try larger print books with vivid pictures. Use a piece of construction paper with a rectangular cut out to show only the sentence that is being read to keep the child on track when reading. Consult with the child’s teacher for any additional tips or tricks that might help the child with homework or teaching aids that can be used at home.