When Learning Gets Tough

Children are all blessed with the innate ability to learn. However, for some, it is a bigger challenge than you would think. Learning disability describes one that has difficulty with learning, in which the individual has a neurological disorder that affects how information is received, processed and/or communicated in the brain, making it difficult for them to acquire and retain knowledge.

Contrary to popular belief, a learning disability is not indicative of an individual’s intelligence level. They merely have trouble expressing their abilities and the information that they hold in their brain.

Symptoms and Types

Learning disabilities may begin to occur in very young children, but this may not be apparent until the child starts formal education. They may manifest differently in individuals, showing different combinations and degree of difficulties. Reading, writing and mathematics are the most commonly diagnosed areas of difficulty.

Types Definition Symptoms
Reading Disability (Dyslexia) The process in which meaning from a written text is extracted is impaired.
  • Difficulty recognising or pronouncing written words.
  • Confuse letters (e.g b and d).
  • Limited vocabulary.
  • Remember little of what was read.
Writing Disability (Dysgraphia) Difficulty in putting ideas into written form.
  • Writings are filled with mistakes.
  • Writings have irregular shapes and sizes.
  • Writings show poor spatial planning.
Mathematics Disability (Dyscalculia) Difficulty understanding numbers and mathematical concepts.
  • Difficulty performing simple addition and subtraction.
  • Weakness memorising mathematical facts.
  • Inability to understand arithmetic terms and symbols.

As Parents, What Role do You Play?

A learning disability is a lifelong challenge that cannot be cured, but the individual eventually learns to adapt to their disability. Besides early intervention, how parents approach this situation may also be vital to success in managing their child’s learning disability. Read on to see how parents can make all the difference.

  1. Get an expert opinion.
    Once your child’s diagnosis has been confirmed, talk to your clinician to find the most suitable intervention programme. Be informed on new developments, intervention programmes and techniques that may benefit your child. Your knowledge will enable you to work effectively with your child’s therapist, tutor or school to guarantee the best outcome for your child.
  2. Encourage healthy emotional habits.
    Children with learning disabilities often feel powerless, inadequate and frustrated. Provide a positive medium for them to express themselves. Listen to them when they talk and provide them with the social support they need.
  3. Promote self-esteem.
    Enhance your child’s self-esteem by focusing on the positives. Work with them to develop their strengths and passions as it may help them feel confident about what they can do.
  4. Stay optimistic.
    Do not feel discouraged by your child’s condition as it distracts you from providing your child with the best care possible. Additionally, children tend to follow their parents’ lead and learn to embrace all the challenges with a positive outlook.

Parents should not be disheartened over the fact that their child has a learning disability. Though their child may struggle in one area of learning, this should not be generalised as they may excel in other skills or areas. Always remember that life success is more important than school success.

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