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Living with learning disability

Dr Sacrifice Chirisa Mental Health  Matters
Learning disabilities are disorders that affect one’s ability to understand or use spoken or written language, do mathematical calculations, coordinate movements, or direct attention.

Although learning disabilities occur in very young children, disorders are usually not recognised until a child reaches school age. Research shows that eight percent to 10 percent of children under the age of 18 have some type of learning disability.

Learning disabilities affect one’s ability to interpret what one sees and hears or to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control or attention.

Such difficulties extend to school work and can impede learning to read or write or to do math. Learning disabilities do not reflect IQ (intelligence quotient), or how smart a person is.

Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions that, in some cases, affect many parts of a person’s existence: school or work, daily routines, family situations, and sometimes, even friendships and play.

In some people, many overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Others may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their lives.

Not all learning problems fall into the category of learning disabilities. Many children are simply slower in developing certain skills. Because children show natural differences in their rate of development, sometimes what seems to be a learning disability may simply be a delay in maturation.

Dyslexia: is a reading and language-based learning disability. With this problem, a child may not understand letters, groups of letters, sentences, or paragraphs. For example, at the beginning of first grade, children may occasionally reverse and rotate the letters they read and write. This may be normal when they are first learning to read.

Dysgraphia: is a term for problems with writing. Writing neatly takes time and effort; yet despite the extra effort, the handwriting still may be hard to read. A teacher may say that a learning-disabled student can’t finish written tests and assignments on time, and supervisors may find that written tasks are always late or incomplete.

Dyscalculia: is a term for problems concerning math. A child may do well in history and language, but fail tests involving fractions and percentages. Math is difficult for many students, but those with dyscalculia may have much more difficulty than others their age. Dyscalculia may prevent your child from solving basic math problems that others the same age complete with no difficulty.

Language-related learning disabilities are problems that interfere with age-appropriate communication, including speaking, listening, reading, spelling, and writing.

Evaluation, the process of determining whether a child has a disability and needs special education and services, is the first step in developing a helpful educational program.

This is key and best done early before a child is labelled dull and ignored as the rest of the class progresses and never catch up.

Source : The Herald

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