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Raising a child with a learning disability

17 Sep 2020

Learning disorders present themselves as a wide range of developmental problems in children. It’s very important to realise that kids with learning disabilities are neither dumb nor lazy. Their problem is not a lack of intelligence or motivation. In fact most of them are as smart as or even smarter than everyone else.

Learning disorders present themselves as a wide range of developmental problems in children. It’s very important to realise that kids with learning disabilities are neither dumb nor lazy. Their problem is not a lack of intelligence or motivation. In fact most of them are as smart as or even smarter than everyone else. It’s just that their brains don’t receive and process information in the same way the rest of us do, which makes it difficult for them to
accomplish certain things that may seem straight forward to me and you. The most prevalent kinds of learning disabilities involve problems with speaking, listening,reading, writing, spelling, understanding, mathematics and reasoning. The earlier you spot such learning disorders, the easier it is to provide the necessary support

they require.
How to spot the symptoms
Many unfortunate people struggle with undiagnosed learning problems for all of their lives and are frequently disadvantaged by them. By realising that your child has a learning disability early on, you can help them overcome such a long-lasting handicap. Keep a close eye on the normal developmental milestones for toddlers and pre-schoolers. If your little one is lagging behind at an early age, you may be able to intervene in order to
minimise difficulties at a later stage. Speak to your paediatrician or GP about the milestones – from sitting and crawling to talking – which your child should achieve at different ages. If you are concerned that your kid might have a problem, don’t ignore the situation hoping that it will somehow magically sort itself out. Seek professional help to assess and remedy the problem.
What are the symptoms?
Learning disorders differ widely from person to person. Your child may excel at maths, but really struggle to express themselves verbally, or they may love reading books while having trouble following a conversation between a group of people. Because of this range in potential problems it isn’t always easy to identify specific learning difficulties. There is no single symptom that applies in each case, but there are a number of warning signs that should raise a red flag if they occur regularly in children who consistently struggle to master certain skills. At various stages of development, these include the following:
For pre-school kids:
● trouble with learning colours, numbers, the alphabet, the days of the week and shapes;
● problems pronouncing words;
● an inability to make up simply rhymes;
● difficulties in handling pencils, scissors and crayons and colouring-in shapes within the
lines;
● poor concentration;
● difficulties in following directions; and
● difficulties with doing up zips, tying shoe laces and fastening buttons.
For primary school kids:
● frequently making reading and spelling errors;
● confusing basic words when reading;
● difficulties in learning new skills; and
● difficulties with basic maths concepts.
For middle and high school kids:
● a dislike of reading and writing;
● poor handwriting;
● messy and disorganised bedrooms, desks and homework;
● difficulties in comprehending passages of text and exam questions;
● difficulties expressing thoughts aloud;
● finding it challenging to follow a conversation involving several people; and
● misspelling the same word in different ways in the same document.
Problem areas
Signs of disabilities involving reading skills (dyslexia) may include problems with recognising letters and words, reading fluency and speed, as well as understanding words and ideas. Children with maths-based learning disorders (dyscalculia) may have trouble with memorisation, counting and telling the time. If your child struggles to accurately copy letters and words and finds it hard to express his or her thoughts on paper, they may suffer from a learning disorder centred around writing (dysgraphia). Other recognised learning disabilities involve motor skills (manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, balance and so on), language and communication, or auditory and
visual processing (i.e. the use of the ears and eyes, respectively). There are a number of additional medical and psychological disorders that can result in learning difficulties, including depression, anxiety, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
How you can help
It can be tough to come to grips with the fact that your child has a learning disorder, but you need to realise that with the right kind of assistance, children with such disabilities can lead perfectly normal lives. If you’ve observed some of the symptoms in your kid, speak to their teachers, make an appointment with your paediatrician or GP and ask them to recommend a specialist who can formally assess your child. A range of tests can be carried out to evaluate the situation, but a diagnosis may not always be simple, so be patient and consult more than one expert. The types of specialists who may be able to assess and treat learning difficulties include school counsellors,
clinical or developmental psychologists, child psychiatrists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists.

Source: Rosebank Killarney Gazette
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