Recognizing Various Learning Disabilities: Identifying Common Signs in Children
Addressing learning disabilities is challenging for both children and their parents. The key to addressing and managing these hurdles lies in personalized learning interventions. Before undertaking support programs, parents need to determine whether their child has a learning disability and, if so, identify the specific nature of the disability.
In this blog, we delve into the various types of learning disabilities and examine the common signs children exhibit in each disability.
What Are Learning Disabilities?
Learning disabilities are neurological challenges that affect a child’s ability to acquire specific academic and social skills. These skills can range from reading to writing and math.
The following are some distinctive characteristics of children with learning disabilities:
- Children with learning disabilities do not lack intelligence. However, they have difficulty interpreting certain information, as their brains process information differently.
- Learning disabilities are lifelong conditions. However, one can improve and manage their challenges via appropriate strategies.
- Most learning disabilities tend to run in families and are often diagnosed in childhood when gaps in skill development become apparent.
- Children with learning disabilities can achieve academic and career success comparable to their peers with the help of individualized teaching methods, assistive technologies, etc.
- Arrangements in school, work, and home settings are essential to foster independence and allow children with learning disabilities to demonstrate their abilities and thrive.
Types of Disabilities and Their Symptoms
Different types of learning disabilities have different symptoms. Symptoms can also vary from one child to another. Therefore, understanding these symptoms is crucial for successfully tutoring students with learning disabilities to provide each child with the most optimal recipe for success.
The most common learning disabilities are as follows:
Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes reading and spelling difficult for children. Children with this neurological condition find it hard to recognize speech sounds and relate them to letters and words in writing. Dyslexia causes slow, inaccurate, and laboured reading for children.
Signs of Dyslexia
Children with dyslexia may exhibit all or most of the following signs.
- Struggle to associate the sounds of letters, impacting reading and spelling abilities. Children also mispronounce words or have trouble decoding unfamiliar terms.
- Slow reading, full of hesitations and word repetitions.
- Difficulty in recognizing and remembering sight words, affecting overall reading speed and comprehension.
- Frequently misspelled words, even after repeated exposure.
- Struggles with consistent application of spelling rules and patterns.
- Confusion with letter reversals (e.g., “b” and “d”) or word order and difficulty in discriminating left from right, impacting writing and the directionality of text.
- Challenges remembering sequences and recalling the order of letters, numbers, or steps in a process.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability associated with writing. Children with dysgraphia have challenges with handwriting, spelling, organizing ideas, and composition. Although children with dysgraphia have average intelligence, they have below-average writing abilities.
Signs of Dysgraphia
The most common signs that children with dysgraphia exhibit are as follows:
- Illegible handwriting that is messy and difficult to read, with inconsistent letter sizes, irregular spacing, and poor penmanship.
- Difficulty putting thoughts into written words and organizing ideas on paper; sentences are usually incomplete or disjointed.
- Poor spelling skills based on the child’s age, education level, or verbal skills.
- Children with dysgraphia try to avoid activities that require writing or show reluctance to put enough effort into writing.
- Issues with fine motor skills for handwriting, such as improper grip on pens and odd wrist, body, or paper positioning. Handwriting appears very laborious.
- Struggle taking notes or copying materials accurately from a board, projector screen, or book.
- The writing rate is meagre compared to other children of the same age despite being equally or more intelligent.
Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects a child’s ability to understand numbers and mathematical concepts. Children with dyscalculia have trouble counting, performing calculations, measuring, and applying math strategies.
Signs of Dyscalculia
Persons with dyscalculia exhibit a wide range of signs and symptoms. Some of the most common signs of dyscalculia are as follows:
- Difficulty understanding number concepts and symbols.
- Struggle with counting objects, recognizing written numbers, etc.
- People with dyscalculia take more time when solving arithmetic problems.
- Challenges applying mathematical logic and issues comparing numbers, estimating quantity, telling time, and using money functionally.
- Trouble grasping the concepts of spatial relationships, measurement, data interpretation, etc.
- Difficulty memorizing and recalling math facts like addition/subtraction tables or formulas.
- Frequent calculation errors, even on simple problems.
- Children with dyscalculia may continue to find math challenging even after dyscalculia intervention programs and support.
Auditory Processing Disorders
Auditory processing disorders impact how the brain processes sounds entering a person’s ears, leading to various learning challenges. These disorders can cause a variety of learning challenges. The difficulties typically associated with auditory processing disorders include trouble understanding speech amidst background noise, following directions, reading, language acquisition, speaking, etc.
Signs of auditory processing disorders
While there are different signs and symptoms for auditory processing disorders, here are some of the most common:
- Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments like classrooms or public places.
- Frequently ask others to repeat themselves and may incorrectly hear words and phrases, leading to confusion.
- Delayed spoken language and speech development compared to peers.
- Poor listening skills and an inability to follow multi-step directions in sequence.
- Difficulty locating the sources of sounds.
- Listening fatigue in loud places, as APD requires effort and mental energy, which makes children tired.
Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder (SDP) is a group of conditions that affect how the brain interprets and processes sensory inputs. People with SPD usually have trouble appropriately modulating, discriminating, coordinating, or processing sensory information received from a person’s five senses, also potentially leading to severe executive functioning disorders in the future.
Signs of sensory processing disorders
Children with sensory processing disorders may exhibit diverse signs and symptoms. Here are a few common signs to be aware of:
- Extreme sensitivity to the touch or texture of clothes, etc. Often a dislike towards cuddling.
- High pain tolerance sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. This also may lead to self-inflicted injuries.
- The exertion of too little/too much pressure while holding objects, pencil grip, slamming doors, etc.
- The ability to endure many spinning motions without dizziness or nausea.
- Limited body awareness, leading to frequent tripping, poor coordination, difficulty navigating surroundings, etc.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Children are unable to pay attention and control impulsive actions.
Signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
There are several signs that a child with ADHD may display. Some of the most common symptoms are as follows:
- Children with ADHD are easily distracted. They are also forgetful and find it hard to remain seated or focus on single tasks for long.
- People with ADHD are unable to stick to routines and are often late or forgetful regarding appointments. ADHD affects time management, organization skills, etc.
- Frequent hot temper, mood swings, and poor frustration tolerance, mainly when accomplishing tasks that demand consistent, focused mental effort.
- Children with ADHD make careless, silly mistakes. These mistakes can often continue even after being corrected.
- ADHD may also affect executive functioning skills, which can further complicate the issue and make treatments challenging.
How to Treat Learning Disabilities in Children
Providing adequate support and learning opportunities is crucial to help children with learning disabilities. Focused interventions are necessary to meet the specific needs of the children as per the nature of the disability.
Children with dyscalculia require programs focusing on math abilities, while children with dyslexia need reading programs.
Here are some of the most effective ways to help children with learning disabilities:
Identify the Child’s Learning Style
When a child has a learning disability, they usually have their own methods or style of learning. First, work to understand their learning modes to help improve their learning.
When setting up a child at a tutoring center for additional learning support, share these details with the teachers for a better learning experience.
Create Suitable Educational Therapy
The first step to helping children with learning disabilities is understanding their challenges. Once understood, work with professionals, including special education teachers, therapists, or tutoring centers, to develop individualized education programs.
These programs must have customized learning plans, tools, goals, and adaptations for the children.
Ensuring plenty of explicit learning instruction tailored to the child’s strengths is essential to compensate for weak areas.
Incorporate Behavioral Treatment
A considerable challenge most students face along with learning disabilities is the changes in their behaviour. Helping children manage and organize better will allow them to become more successful.
Use positive reinforcements to shape behaviour. Help children set routines, use visual cues, and eliminate unnecessary distractions.
Monitor any changes and use methods that work more efficiently and effectively.
Adaptive Skill Building
Supporting children with learning disabilities to build the skills they lack is an effective way to help them face their challenges.
For example, if a child lacks reading skills, create reading programs for kids to help them improve their skills. Often, it is necessary to break skills like reading and writing into multiple steps– teach them phonics and word patterns and help translate symbols.
These step-by-step processes will gradually improve children’s skills. Instead of building several skills simultaneously, tackle various skills separately and progressively.
Treat Any Issues Promptly
Children with learning challenges struggle to build social relations and interact with their peers. The life of a child with learning disabilities is tricky and could lead to mental distress, anxiety, depression, etc.
In such situations, seek professional medical attention. Take the child to counseling to help motivate and boost their confidence.
Depending on each situation, certain medications can help children stay focused and attentive longer to improve the quality of their learning.
Provide Unlimited Home Support
The best place to help a child with a learning disability become confident and motivated to learn is in their own home. Offer lots of positive support.
Coordinate efforts with educational therapists, learning experts at your child’s tutoring center, etc., to chart the child’s learning at home.
Show plenty of love, understanding, and patience. Keep clear communication with the child.
Ensure Personalized Support with Strategic Learning
One of the most promising ways to treat learning disabilities is to identify them as early as possible. Once correctly identified and diagnosed, the next step is to create a suitable learning environment and system to enable the children to overcome these challenges. A crucial element to remember is to develop highly tailored learning systems and intervention programs for each child unique to their learning challenges.
Strategic Learning ensures different types of assisted learning and intervention techniques for children with learning disabilities. With experienced and qualified professionals to help any child, Strategic Learning provides holistic growth for children.
Strategic Learning Clinic has worked with numerous children and parents to help overcome learning limitations using various processes and learning systems tailored to each child.