Every child is different and most of us are familiar with this intriguing fact of life. Well then, why do we expect our children to have the same abilities and needs as other children? In this article we will look at the four most common learning difficulties and explore the ways in which you can help your child.
While school (and other learning activities) do form an important part of your child’s development, it’s important to remember that academic success isn’t necessarily the end
goal for all children. Your child is an individual with his/her own strengths and weaknesses. They should not be defined by a learning disability. Isn’t the best thing really to make sure your youngster has a happy life doing the things that he/she truly enjoys?
What is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability represents a single area of weakness in your child’s learning abilities. Difficulties with reading, writing, calculating and other learning skills are normally not a
cause for concern as children develop at different speeds and each child has a unique skill set.
A child with a learning disability also has several additional signs that don’t improve over time. These could include problems in some of the following areas: 1
- Reading or writing
- Remembering things
- Understanding words or concepts
- Paying attention
- Following instructions
- Telling time
- Staying organised
- Behavioural problems
There are different specific types of learning disabilities which each have their own signs. Let’s explore.
Simply put, dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty with reading comprehension. Children with reading disabilities may also have trouble writing, speaking
and spelling. A child who has dyslexia might have trouble connecting letters and words with sounds or recognising specific words or grasping the meaning of certain words or phrases.
Other signs that are associated with dyslexia could include things like slow reading, poor general vocabulary skills, speech delay, difficulty expressing thoughts, difficulty learning songs or rhymes and issues with spelling.
If your child has difficulty with math they might have a specific learning disability known as dyscalculia. The signs of dyscalculia may include anything from memorising and organising numbers or mathematical signs to calculating change or calculating the solutions to math problems. Youngsters with dyscalculia may also have problems using money and understanding time.
The term “dysgraphia” refers to a difficulty with writing. Youngsters with this learning disorder might have issues with spelling, handwriting and organising ideas on paper.
The signs of this learning disability could include any of the following:
- An inability to write neatly
- The inaccurate copying of letters and words
- Inconsistencies with spelling
- Trouble keeping writing organised and coherent
- Not wanting to write or disliking it
Some children with dysgraphia might even seem tense while writing.
Another condition that can make learning a larger challenge for some kids is ADHD (or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Children with this disorder generally have problems staying focused, paying attention, sitting still, staying organised and following instructions. These kids usually also have trouble completing their schoolwork or homework.
What Can You Do to Help?
There is hope for children with learning disabilities. Moreover, with lots of encouragement and support, you can help your child to gain greater self-confidence as a foundation for
future success. Under the correct learning conditions, your child’s brain can reorganise itself as it has the opportunity to form new neural connections.
These new connections can make it possible for the youngster to learn skills such as reading or writing that may have been hard using other learning strategies. A professional can help to pinpoint what the exact problem is, and while this is extremely important, there’s also a lot that you can do.
- Keep things in perspective by realising that a learning disability is not an
- Get yourself informed by looking into the options that are available and by learning
about some of the newer treatment options and services.
- Take charge and become an advocate for your child. Speak up to make sure your
child’s needs are understood.
- Help your child to develop his/her passion and nurture their strengths. Learning
might not be their strong suit, but they might excel at something else.
- Teach your child the emotional skills needed to deal with criticism.
- Your child needs to know that you believe in them. Children value their parent’s
opinion of them and they are much more likely to succeed if they can count on your
Look at the Big Picture
With learning disabilities, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Your child needs your love and support more than anything else. Keep in mind that you are essentially helping
your child by teaching them ways to help themselves.
This article has been contributed by Dr. Lisa Lim Su Li Clinical Director and Senior Speech Language Pathologist, The Speech Practice Pte Ltd