Learning Disabilities are caused by differences in the brain. They are present at birth or shortly after and affect how the brain handles information. A learning disability is not related to how smart the child is. The disability can cause problems with reading, writing and math.
A child with a disability in reading (Dyslexia) may have trouble reading quickly, recognizing common words and spelling. It is characterized by difficulty identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. With a writing disability (dysgraphia), a child may have poor hand writing and write slowly. A child may have trouble organizing their thoughts and putting them down on paper. It is believed to result from weak motor skills and difficulties remembering sequencing. With Dyscalculia (math disability) a child may show difficulty understanding concepts of place value, quantity, number lines, and positive and negative value. A child with a math disabilityhas difficulty understanding and solving word problems and sequencing information or events.
If a child is struggling, parents and teachers may request that the school system test the child at no cost to the parents. The school system, by law, must provide services to support children with learning disabilities. If is important to note that not all learners who are struggling have a learning disability. There are many factors that affect a child’s ability to learn. Some students may just learn slowly or need more practice than their same-aged peers. Poor vision or hearing can cause a child to miss what is being taught. Poor nutrition or exposure to toxins early in life can also cause difficulties in learning.
Most students with a learning disability can develop strategies to compensate their disorder. Teachers and learning specialists can assist students in learning these skills. If interventions are implemented the effects of the disability can be minimized.
A child with a learning disability may have low self-esteem, lack of confidence and inevitable frustration. For example, with math, anxiety may worsen math abilities. A guidance counselor might help the child use coping skills and build a positive attitude about their ability to learn. Parents can play an important role by having a positive attitude which may lessen the child’s math anxiety. Teachers and learning specialist can advise parents on how to help their child with homework. The parents can also help their children develop the necessary skills to help lessen the effects of their disability.
Although a learning disability cannot be “cured” early intervention is crucial so that the student can be successful at school. A great resource is the Learning Disabilities Association of Montgomery County. Their helpline is 301-933-1076.