Learning disorders affect children both academically and socially. Read on to determine if your child needs professional help.
Akanksha was exasperated with her six-year-old son Rahul. At school, all the teachers complained that Rahul was lazy and uninterested in studies. Even at home, he would throw temper tantrums when he was told to do his homework. Yet, Akanksha could not help feeling that there was something else behind her son's stubbornness and reluctance when it came to studies. Finally, Rahul was diagnosed as being learning disabled. Today, Rahul receives therapy to help him cope with his learning difficulties and does much better at school.
Learning disabilities in children may be detected only after a child begins school and faces difficulties in acquiring basic academic skills. However, there are a few things you can look out for to identify if your child needs help.
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a neurological condition that affects a child's brain and impairs his ability to carry out one or many specific tasks. These tasks include being able to read, write, speak, listen, and calculate. A learning disabled child is neither slow nor mentally retarded. An affected child can have normal or above average intelligence. This is why a child with a learning disability is often wrongly labelled as being smart but lazy.
A learning disability can also be defined as a difference seen between a child's learning capacity and his actual learning ability This is because his brain finds it difficult to understand certain signals and prevents him from processing the information associated with those signals.
What causes a learning disability?
There is no one common factor that causes a learning disability in a child. In most cases, it is inherited. A child with a learning disability most likely has a parent who also displayed difficulties with learning skills but may not have been diagnosed.
Learning disabilities have also been associated with impaired brain development. This could be due to a variety of factors such as premature birth, infection, oxygen deprivation, and exposing the foetus to drugs or alcohol. After-birth causes include physical injury to the head region, improper nutrition, and exposure to toxic substances, which interfere with normal brain development.
What are the signs of a possible learning disability?
The earliest indication of a learning disability in a child is if he has difficulties in reaching basic developmental milestones. Some children take a little time to begin walking or speaking, which is perfectly normal. However, if your child still cannot walk by the age of two, he may have a learning disability. Besides not walking, he may also display uncoordinated movements. As he grows, he may display difficulty performing acts like fastening buttons or tying shoelaces, and have an awkward grasp over objects.
Poor understanding of concepts
A child who is confused by regular actions like brushing his teeth, dressing himself, etc. may have a learning disability. He may not be able to understand certain concepts like colour, size, or shape. He may get mixed up between the previous day and the next, and also not be able to understand the concept of time.
Excessive energy which affects normal functioning
Most children are a bundle of energy. Sometimes, this energy can affect a child's ability to carry out assigned tasks and the child is perceived to be hyperactive. A hyperactive child has difficulty focussing on one task at a time. He cannot sit still and may also face difficulties in normal interactions with other children of his age. The child could also be prone to temper tantrums when he is forced to socialise and will prefer to play by himself.
Lack of attention
This usually occurs in tandem with hyperactivity. A child may appear not to listen when you speak to him directly and will ignore you. He will also not remember what he was doing a few minutes back and will tend to misplace things like books, pencils, toys, etc. He may also have problems following simple instructions like picking up his toys.
Differences in skill levels
A child with a disability in one learning area can sometimes have exceptional skills in other areas. For example, a child may be an advanced reader for his age but may not be able to solve simple maths problems like adding two numbers. He may read words or numbers backwards and not be able to distinguish between his left and right sides.
A learning disability cannot be diagnosed by a layperson. If you suspect that your child is facing difficulties with learning, talk to your child's school teachers and see if they confirm that your child is having difficulty at school. Take your child to a doctor who is professionally qualified to diagnose learning disabilities. Remember that a learning disability can be treated. A child can overcome a learning disability to have a normal academic life and can even go to college and study professional courses.
Which are the different types of learning disabilities in children? How to detect learning disabilities in children? How to help children with learning disabilities? Discuss here.
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