What is a Learning Disability?
LD, i.e, Learning Disability, or Learning Disorder is technically a neurological Disorder. Having a learning disability means that the person’s brain functions or perceives things a bit differently than it is conventionally expected to.
A person with a learning disability may have difficulty in basic skills like reading, writing, mathematics, listening, language comprehension, and/or speaking. Now, this has been little to do with the intellectual ability of the person. A person with a learning disability can be as smart or smarter than a person not having one. In fact, to be diagnosed with a learning disability, a person needs to have an IQ over 85.
Since a learning disability is not necessarily an intellectual disability, a person can cope with everyday life just fine with the appropriate guidance and education. One thing to be noted is that a learning disability cannot be cured or corrected. A learning disability generally results from the connection of genes which cannot be changed. Hence, a person with a learning disability has to find ways to cope with it as it is an everlasting condition for them.
The term ‘learning disability’ is an umbrella term that signifies a variety of disorders related to learning. These learning disorders and broadly classified into three categories- Reading Disability, Writing Disability, and Mathematical Disability.
Reading Disability which is also known as Dyslexia, is probably the most common and one of the most recognizable learning disorders. It affects the person’s ability to process the written language. It causes problems in a person’s understanding of grammar and reading comprehension. Children may have difficulty in verbal communication and articulate their thoughts in words properly.
Writing Disability, also called Dysgraphia, is a learning disability that affects the person’s ability to articulate their thoughts in writing. Dysgraphia can be Basic or Expressive. A person suffering from basic dysgraphia would face physical difficulty in forming words or letters on paper. Whereas, a person with expressive dysgraphia would face difficulty in organizing thoughts mentally to put them on paper.
Mathematical Disability is also known as Dyscalculia which includes many different kinds of Mathematical difficulty or disorder. A person suffering from the mathematical disorder may face difficulty in recalling number sequences, computing math problems, problems with time concepts,s and/or difficulty in executing mental calculation. They are slow to develop counting and math problem-solving skills.
Some other kinds of Learning Disorders that are not very common to hear are-
Dyspraxia– This learning disorder interferes with the person’s motor skills. Since motor skills are related to movement and coordination, a learning person suffering from dyspraxia will develop sensitivity to light, touch, taste it smell,s and have difficulty with eye movements.
Auditory processing disorder– It refers to learning disorders in which a person is unable to differentiate among different sounds or hear sounds at the right time.
Visual processing disorder– A person suffering from visual processing disorder would fail to grasp the difference in shapes, reversed letters or numbers. He or she would skip words or lines and misperceive depth or distance.
Since there are no fixed symptoms of any of the learning disorders it becomes difficult to diagnose such disorder very easily. Sometimes, these disorders are diagnosed as late as during high school or even go undiagnosed.
Although it is overwhelmingly difficult for any parent to accept that their child is suffering from a certain kind of learning disorder. But at the same time, it is extremely important to acknowledge it as it is the only way to make the child’s life a bit easier.
It is not easy to diagnose or determine the kind of learning disorder due to lack of proper symptoms but there are certain observations you can make to know that there is a problem.
In general, if your child is extremely disinterested in reading or writing, has trouble memorizing things, seems to be slower than other children, has poor social skills or lacks concentration, you may need to give a thought regarding your child’s learning abilities or disabilities.
If your child is having trouble associating sounds that go with letters, has difficulty pronouncing the words, or doesn’t seem to understand grammar and proper use of words, he or she might be suffering from dyslexia
If you see your child holding the pencil a little too tightly, having bad handwriting, speaking out words while writing, or having difficulty with grammar and syntax, these may be the signs of dysgraphia.
If your child claims to have understood a mathematical problem one day and still struggles with it the next day or has trouble solving mathematical problems and calculations in general, it might be because of dyscalculia.
If you see your child bumping into things more often than usually other children do, they have trouble using a spoon or tying their shoelaces, these may be the signs of dyspraxia in the early stage.
Parents are often seen to be embarrassed, frustrated, or sad when they come to know of their child’s disability. However, we all need to realize that this not the end of the world. It does not hinder their way to success. If your child wants to do something, he or she will do it with or without the learning disorder. You just need to be supportive and understand your child’s brain.
If you don’t believe it, here are a few people with learning disabilities you might have heard of- Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Agatha Christie, and Whoopi Goldberg.