Specific Learning Disabilities is a group of disabling conditions that hampers a person’s ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. One or more of these abilities may be hampered.
Specific Learning Disability interferes with the normal learning process of the person. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.
While learning disability, learning disorder and learning difficulty are often used interchangeably, they differ in many ways. Disorder refers to significant learning problems in an academic area. These problems, however, are not enough to warrant an official diagnosis. Learning disability, on the other hand, is an official clinical diagnosis, whereby the individual meets certain criteria, as determined by a professional (psychologist,speech language pathologist, pediatrician, psychiatrist etc.). The difference is in degree, frequency, and intensity of reported symptoms and problems, and thus the two should not be confused. When the term "learning disorder" is used, it describes a group of disorders characterized by inadequate development of specific academic, language, and speech skills. Types of learning disorders include reading (dyslexia), arithmetic (dyscalculia) and writing (dysgraphia).
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act defines a specific learning disability as
A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. This term includes conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Specific learning disabilities are not primarily the result of visual, hearing, motor disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
TYPES OF SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITIES
“Specific learning disability” is an umbrella term that can describe many different types of learning issues. An educational evaluation may show that your child has a specific learning disability in a certain subject area.
Affects reading and related language-based processing skills.
Dyslexia is characterized by deficits in accurate and fluent word recognition. Individuals with dyslexia struggle with word recognition, decoding, and spelling. Reading comprehension is sometimes impaired due to very poor word reading skills.
Individuals with dyslexia often have deficits in phonemic and phonological awareness, which refer to the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the sound structure of a spoken word, including its phonemes, syllables, onsets and rimes. Individuals with dyslexia may also have impaired orthographic processing, which interferes with connecting letters and letter combinations with sounds accurately and fluently.
Symptoms of Dyslexia in School going Kids
Affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability which involves impaired ability to produce legible and automatic letter writing and often numeral writing, the latter of which may interfere with math. Dysgraphia is rooted in difficulty with storing and automatically retrieving letters and numerals. Individuals with dysgraphia often have difficulties in Executive Functions (e.g., planning and organizing).
Symptoms of Dysgraphia in School going Kids
Affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts.
Individuals with this type of learning disability demonstrate impaired math calculation skills and difficulty understanding numbers and math facts. Dyscalculia is associated with weaknesses in fundamental number representation and processing, which results in difficulties with quantifying sets without counting, using nonverbal processes to complete simple numerical operations, and estimating relative magnitudes of sets. Because these math skills are necessary for higher-level math problem solving, quantitative reasoning is likely impaired for these individuals.
The term acalculia is used for an acquired impairment in which people have difficulty in performing simple. Acalculia is distinguished from dyscalculia in that acalculia is acquired late in life due to neurological injury such as stroke, while dyscalculia is a specific developmental disorder first observed during the acquisition of mathematical knowledge.
Problems with movement and coordination, language and speech.
A disorder that is characterized by difficulty in muscle control, which causes problems with movement and coordination, language and speech, and can affect learning. Although not a learning disability, Dyspraxia often exists along with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or ADHD.
Signs and Symptoms
· Exhibits poor balance; may appear clumsy; may frequently stumble
· Shows difficulty with motor planning
· Demonstrates inability to coordinate both sides of the body
· Has poor hand-eye coordination
· Exhibits weakness in the ability to organize self and belongings
· Shows possible sensitivity to touch
· May be distressed by loud noises or constant noises like the ticking of a clock or someone tapping a pencil
· May break things or choose toys that do not require skilled manipulation
· Has difficulty with fine motor tasks such as coloring between the lines, putting puzzles together; cutting accurately or pasting neatly
· Irritated by scratchy, rough, tight or heavy clothing
5. Developmental Aphasia
Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as the result of a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders, such as dysarthria or apraxia of speech, which also result from brain damage.
There are two broad categories of aphasia: fluent and nonfluent, and there are several types within these groups.
Damage to the temporal lobe of the brain may result in Wernicke's aphasia, the most common type of fluent aphasia. People with Wernicke's aphasia may speak in long, complete sentences that have no meaning, adding unnecessary words and even creating made-up words.
The most common type of nonfluent aphasia is Broca's aphasia. People with Broca's aphasia have damage that primarily affects the frontal lobe of the brain. They often have right-sided weakness or paralysis of the arm and leg because the frontal lobe is also important for motor movements. People with Broca's aphasia may understand speech and know what they want to say, but they frequently speak in short phrases that are produced with great effort. They often omit small words, such as "is," "and" and "the."
Another type of aphasia, global aphasia, results from damage to extensive portions of the language areas of the brain. Individuals with global aphasia have severe communication difficulties and may be extremely limited in their ability to speak or comprehend language. They may be unable to say even a few words or may repeat the same words or phrases over and over again. They may have trouble understanding even simple words and sentences.
There are other types of aphasia, each of which results from damage to different language areas in the brain. Some people may have difficulty repeating words and sentences even though they understand them and can speak fluently (conduction aphasia). Others may have difficulty naming objects even though they know what the object is and what it may be used for (anomic aphasia).
NON-VERBAL LEARNING DISABILITIES
Has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language and may have poor coordination.
Currently non-verbal learning disabilities are not listed in IDEA or the DSM-5 as a specific type of learning disability. There is a developing body of research that indicates approximately 5 percent of individuals with learning disabilities display the cognitive and academic difficulties that are associated with nonverbal learning disabilities. Research indicates that nonverbal learning disabilities are associated with impairment in three broad areas, including motoric skills, visual-spatial organizational memory, and social abilities. Individuals with this type of learning disability have a well-developed vocabulary, as well as strong reading recognition ability and rote language skills. A child with a learning disorder in nonverbal skills may have trouble with the following skills:
· Interpreting facial expressions and nonverbal cues in social interactions
· Using language appropriately in social situations
· Physical coordination
· Fine motor skills, such as writing
· Attention, planning and organizing
· Higher-level reading comprehension or written expression, usually appearing in later grade school
Factors that might influence the development of learning disorders include:
· Family history and genetics. A family history of learning disorders increases the risk of a child developing a disorder.
· Prenatal and neonatal risks. Poor growth in the uterus (severe intrauterine growth restriction), exposure to alcohol or drugs before being born, premature birth, and very low birthweight have been linked with learning disorders.
· Psychological trauma. Psychological trauma or abuse in early childhood may affect brain development and increase the risk of learning disorders.
· Physical trauma. Head injuries or nervous system infections might play a role in the development of learning disorders.
· Environmental exposure. Exposure to high levels of toxins, such as lead, has been linked to an increased risk of learning disorders.
Learning disorder can only be diagnosed after formal education starts. To be diagnosed with a specific learning disorder, a person must meet four criteria.
1) Have difficulties in at least one of the following areas for at least six months despite targeted help:
ü Difficulty reading (e.g., inaccurate, slow and only with much effort)
ü Difficulty understanding the meaning of what is read
ü Difficulty with spelling
ü Difficulty with written expression (e.g., problems with grammar, punctuation or organization)
ü Difficulty understanding number concepts, number facts or calculation
ü Difficulty with mathematical reasoning (e.g., applying math concepts or solving math problems)
2) Have academic skills that are substantially below what is expected for the child’s age and cause problems in school, work or everyday activities.
3) The difficulties start during school-age even if in some people don’t experience significant problems until adulthood (when academic, work and day-to-day demands are greater).
4) Learning difficulties are not due to other conditions, such as intellectual disability, vision or hearing problems, a neurological condition (e.g., pediatric stroke), adverse conditions such as economic or environmental disadvantage, lack of instruction, or difficulties speaking/understanding the language.
A diagnosis is made through a combination of observation, interviews, family history and school reports. Neuropsychological testing may be used to help find the best way to help the individual with specific learning disorder.
Though there is no “cure,” specific learning disorder can be successfully managed throughout one’s life. People with specific learning disorder can go on to become skilled learners and may be able to build on strengths that often are associated with their learning differences. People with dyslexia, for example, are often particularly creative and able to think outside-of-the-box. Having a learning disorder does not mean a person is limited in their choice of career or the opportunities for success.
· Early intervention is key for people with learning disorder. If problems are identified early, intervention can be more effective, and children can avoid going through extended problems with schoolwork and related low self-esteem.
· Extra help. A reading specialist, math tutor or other trained professional can teach your child techniques to improve his or her academic, organizational and study skills.
· Individualized education program (IEP). Public schools in the United States are mandated to provide an individual education program for students who meet certain criteria for a learning disorder. The IEP sets learning goals and determines strategies and services to support the child's learning in school.
· Accommodations. Classroom accommodations might include more time to complete assignments or tests, being seated near the teacher to promote attention, use of computer applications that support writing, including fewer math problems in assignments, or providing audiobooks to supplement reading.
· Therapy. Some children benefit from therapy. Occupational therapy might improve the motor skills of a child who has writing problems. A speech-language therapist can help address language skills.
· Medication. Your child's doctor might recommend medication to manage depression or severe anxiety. Medications for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may improve a child's ability to concentrate in school.
· Complementary and alternative medicine. Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of alternative treatments, such as dietary changes, use of vitamins, eye exercises, neurofeedback and use of technological devices.