Interestingly, there is no clear and widely accepted definition of "learning disabilities." 1. The learning disabled have difficulties with academic achievement and progress. Discrepancies exist between a person's potential for learning and what he actually learns. 2. The learning disabled show an uneven pattern of development (language development, physical development, academic development and/or perceptual development). Prevalence of learning disabilities Experts estimate that 6 to 10 percent of the school-aged population suffers from a learning disability. Causes Some general observations are: • Learning disabilities tend to run in families, so some learning disabilities may be inherited. Learning disabilities are more common in boys than girls, possibly because boys tend to mature more slowly. • Some learning disabilities appear to be linked to the irregular spelling, pronunciation, and structure of the English language. The incidence of learning disabilities is lower in Spanish or Italian speaking countries. • Some children develop and mature at a slower rate than others in the same age group. As a result, they may not be able to do the expected school work. This kind of learning disability is called "maturational lag." • Some children with normal vision and hearing may misinterpret everyday sights and sounds because of some unexplained disorder of the nervous system. • Injuries before birth or in early childhood probably account for some later learning problems. • Children born prematurely and children who had medical problems soon after birth sometimes have learning disabilities.
The following are some of the symptoms of Learning disability: "Early warning signs" • Problems with reading • Mathematics • Comprehension • Writing • Spoken language • Reasoning abilities • Hyperactivity • Inattention • Perceptual coordination The primary characteristic of a learning disability is a significant difference between a child's achievement in some areas and his or her overall intelligence. Learning disabilities typically affect five general areas: 1. Spoken language: delays, disorders, and deviations in listening and speaking. 2. Written language: difficulties with reading, writing and spelling. 3. Arithmetic: difficulty in performing arithmetic operations or in understanding basic concepts. 4. Reasoning: difficulty in organizing and integrating thoughts. 5. Memory: difficulty in remembering information and instructions. Among the symptoms commonly related to learning disabilities are: • impulsive behavior; lack of reflective thought prior to action • low tolerance for frustration • excessive movement during sleep • poor peer relationships • overly excitable during group play • poor social judgment • inappropriate, unselective, and often excessive display of affection • lags in developmental milestones (e.g. motor, language) • poor visual-motor coordination • hyperactivity • difficulty copying accurately from a model • slowness in completing work • poor organizational skills • easily confused by instructions • difficulty with abstract reasoning and/or problem solving • disorganized thinking • often obsesses on one topic or idea • poor performance on group tests • difficulty discriminating size, shape, color • difficulty with temporal (time) concepts • distorted concept of body image • reversals in writing and reading • general awkwardness • poor short-term or long-term memory • behavior often inappropriate for situation • failure to see consequences for his actions • overly gullible; easily led by peers • excessive variation in mood and responsiveness • poor adjustment to environmental changes • overly distractible; difficulty concentrating • difficulty making decisions • lack of hand preference or mixed dominance • difficulty with tasks requiring sequencing Facts to remember: 1. The number of symptoms seen in a particular child does not give an indication as whether the disability is mild or severe. 2. No one will have all these symptoms. 3. Among LD populations, some symptoms are more common than others. 4. All people have at least two or three of these problems to some degree. 5. Some of these symptoms may indicate dyslexia. 6. Some of these symptoms may indicate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. What should a parent do if it is suspected that a child has a learning disability? The parent should contact the child's school and arrange for testing and evaluation. Federal law requires that public school districts provide special education and related services to children who need them. If these tests indicate that the child requires special educational services, the school evaluation team (planning and placement team) will meet to develop an individual educational plan (IEP) geared to the child's needs. The IEP describes in detail an educational plan designed to remediate and compensate for the child's difficulties. Simultaneously, the parent should take the child to the family pediatrician for a complete physical examination. The child should be examined for correctable problems (e.g. poor vision or hearing loss) that may cause difficulty in school. These stages of parental feeling: • DENIAL: There is really nothing wrong. • BLAME: You expect too much of him. FEAR: Will he ever marry? Education ? • ENVY: Why can't he be like other peers? • MOURNING: what will be his future? • BARGAINING Maybe the problem will improve someday • ANGER: I hate this neighborhood, this school...this teacher. • GUILT: I shouldn't have worked during his first year • ISOLATION: Nobody cares about my child • FLIGHT: Let's try new therapy
Pointers for parents of children with learning disabilities: • Take the time to listen to your children . • Love them by touching them, hugging them, tickling them, wrestling with them • Look for and encourage their strengths, interests, and abilities. • Don't hesitate to consult with teachers or other specialists whenever you feel it to be necessary in order to better understand what might be done to help your child learn. • Reward them with praise, good words, smiles, and pat on the back as often as you can. • Accept them for what they are and for their human potential • Be realistic in your expectations and demands. • Read enjoyable stories to them and with them. Encourage them to ask questions, discuss stories, tell the story, and to reread stories. • Further their ability to concentrate by reducing distractions. • Don't get hung up on traditional school grades • Take them to libraries and encourage them to select and check out books of interest. • Help them to develop self-esteem and to compete with self rather than with others. • Insist that they cooperate socially by playing, helping, and serving others in the family and the community. • Serve as a model to them by reading and discussing material of personal interest. • Involve them in establishing rules and regulations, schedules, and family activities. • Tell them when they misbehave and explain how you feel about their behavior • Help them to correct their errors and mistakes by showing or demonstrating • Don't nag! • Give them regular family work responsibility whenever possible. • Give them an allowance as early as possible • Provide toys, games, motor activities and opportunities that will stimulate them in their development. • Homeopathy has very good medicines which can give nice results.