Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
Learning disabilities, or learning disorders, are an umbrella term for a wide variety of learning problems. A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence, motivation or laziness.
SLD is a type of Neurodevelopmental Disorder that impedes the ability to learn or use specific academic skills (e.g., reading, writing, or arithmetic), which is the foundation for other academic learning.
A child may be assessed as having a specific learning disability when their difficulties are very specific and are not due to other causes, such as their general ability being below average, sight or hearing difficulties, emotional factors, or a physical condition. Difficulties can range from mild to severe.
More common Specific Learning Disabilities include:
- Dyslexia which is a difficulty in learning to read. Children may find it hard to learn, to read words or to understand what is written.
- Dyscalculiawhich is a difficulty with numbers. Children may find it hard to learn, to count or add, subtract, multiply and divide or to understand how numbers work.
- Dysgraphiawhich is a difficulty with writing or spelling. Children may find it hard to write legibly and may have problems with spellings. They may find it hard to put their thoughts in order when writing a story or an essay.
Other types of learning difficulties are Dyspraxia, Apraxia of speech, Central auditory processing disorder, Nonverbal learning disorders, visual perceptual/visual motor deficit, Aphasia.
How can you recognize?
Learning disabilities look very different from one child to another. One child may struggle with reading and spelling, while another loves books but can’t understand math. Still, another child may have difficulty understanding what others are saying or communicating out loud. The problems are very different, but they are all learning disorders. Following is a list of common red flags for learning disorder:
At preschool age:
- Problems pronouncing words
- Trouble finding the right words
- Difficulty in rhyming
- Trouble learning the alphabets, numbers, colours, shapes, days of the week
- Difficulty in following directions or remembering routines
- Difficulty in controlling crayons, pencils, and scissors, or colouring within the lines
- The trouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, tieing shoelaces
Between ages 5-9:
- Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
- Unable to blend sounds to make words
- Confuse basic words while reading
- Slow to acquire new skills
- Consistently misspell words and make frequent errors
- Trouble learning basic math concepts
- Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences
Between ages 10-13:
- Difficulty reading comprehension or math skills
- The trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems
- Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud
- Poor handwriting
- Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized)
- Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud
- Spells the same word differently in a single document
Some possible causes include:
– Heredity (often, learning disabilities run in the family)
– Problems during pregnancy and at birth
– Illness or injury during or before birth (low birth weight, lack of oxygen, drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, and premature or prolonged labour)
– Head injuries, nutritional deprivation, and exposure to toxic substances (i.e. lead)
Learning disabilities are NOT caused by economic disadvantage, environmental factors, or cultural differences.
Diagnosing a learning disability is a process. It involves detailed history taking, assessment and observation by a Clinical Psychologist for learning disorders.
Is there any treatment for learning disabilities?
Multiple interventions that look at all relevant biological, psychological, and social factors are essential and comprise a general principle of treatment. While there is no cure for specific learning disorder; there are many ways to improve reading, writing, and math skills for a child. Treatment usually includes both strengthening the skills and developing a learning strategy tailored to take advantage of a child’s strengths. Early Identification and Early Intervention is key.
How UDGAM will help in the treatment:
After the assessment period, if your child is determined to have a disability, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is made. This personalized and written education plan –
- Lists individualized goals for the child
- Specifies the plan for services the child will receive
- Lists the specialists who will work with the child