Learning Disability in Children: Causes, Types, Signs and Treatment

We are all unique beings with our differences in learning and performing aspects. Despite these differences, we all require basic educational skills like reading, writing, and proper communication.

The journey of learning starts very early in life from homes and is carried forward into schooling. Learning can be difficult or easy depending on one’s grasping abilities, subjects, and methods of teaching. Our differences in thinking and understanding lead to distinguished abilities in each aspect.

Children tend to show varying ranges of understanding even when they are taught the same concepts. Parents and teachers can observe a child’s skills through their learning patterns, behaviors, and performance. Some may be able to catch skills early, while some may lag behind their peers.

Differences in learning are of various kinds and are all classified under the broad umbrella term – Learning Disability.

What is Learning Disability?

Unlike the term suggests, ‘Learning Disability’ is not a disorder. It is a neurological difference among individuals that impacts the brain’s ability to function with information.  Learning disability refers to a group of different conditions such as – dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, etc.

Children with learning difficulties have issues with reading, writing, spelling, language, math and calculation, concentration, memory, and general reasoning. They may find it hard to retain and recall basic concepts and symbols and apply them.

Learning disability in children is commonly observed through their performance in school. The signs of lacking in these basic skills are often considered to be a mental illness, disinterest, apathy in academics, or just sheer ignorance at school.

But it is important to distinguish this as a condition that children go through unknowingly. More so, parents are also usually unaware of this issue among children and replace it with laziness and intellectual disabilities, neglecting its prevalence.

The truth is learning disabilities are in-born and can be dealt with through several teaching and learning techniques and proper motivation. Identifying and accepting this difference of learning in growing children is paramount in creating a safe and supportive environment.

What are the causes of Learning disability?

The causes of learning disability underlie one’s neurological built. Its root is in the brain’s wiring leading to difficulties in learning and cognition.

There is no one cause of learning disability but can be due to various factors:

  • Heredity – some experts say that learning disability is a genetic condition and can be passed onto children from parents.
  • Illness or injury – severe illness, unnourished growth, poor growth in the womb, etc. can be a cause of learning disability. Injuries and damage to the brain at any age can also impact learning abilities.
  • Comorbidity – it is observed that 15 – 30% of children with ADHD also have learning difficulties.

As the cause of learning disabilities lies in one’s neurological structuring, it is inevitable. However, children with learning difficulties can learn and cope with the right guidance.

Types of learning disability

As we discussed, ‘Learning Disability’ is an umbrella term encompassing several types of learning problems. A child may experience one or more of these learning difficulties.

Here are the common types of learning disabilities:

  1. Dyslexia –a kind of learning impairment where a child faces difficulty in interpreting written words, letters, and symbols. Children with dyslexia face issues while reading accurately and fluently.
  • Dysgraphia – Dysgraphia is a learning condition that affects one’s ability to write. A child with Dysgraphia has trouble with spelling correctly, sentence formation, legible handwriting, maintaining uniform space while writing, and putting thoughts into words.
  • Dyscalculia – Dyscalculia is a learning disability that hampers one’s comprehension of basic arithmetic. There’s difficulty in grasping numbers and symbols, and confusion in generic math or numeric ability.
  • Dyspraxia – Dyspraxia is an impairment in the fine and gross motor skills of a child. It also influences one’s ability at balancing, directions, spatial awareness, following commands, etc.
  • Auditory Processing – this is a lack of interpreting an auditory input properly. Sounds are often confused despite the complete ability to hear.
  • Visual perception Disorder – Children with this learning disability do not perceive visuals properly. They face difficulty in distinguishing similar objects and depth.
  • Language Processing Disorder – One faces trouble expressing or understanding languages. It affects both oral and written language perception and influences all languages known to some intensity or the other.
  • Non-verbal Learning Disability – it is a neurological issue that impacts visual-spatial understanding, intuitive perception, evaluation, understanding social cues, etc.
  • Executive functioning – The brain is unable to effectively carry out functions like planning, organizing, judgment, self-control, and focusing.

Signs of a Learning Disability

Ineffective development in school and delay in learning is a sign that your child may have a learning disability.

Here are more signs to look out for:

In pre-school kids:

  • Inefficient development of Speaking skills
  • Difficulty in pronunciation
  • Inability to identify alphabets, numbers, symbols
  • Disrupted concentration
  • Lagging fine motor skills

In primary-school kids:

  • Reading, writing, and spelling improperly
  • Difficulty matching sounds
  • Lack of spatial awareness
  • Inability to distinguish similar objects
  • Trouble memorizing poems
  • Improper perception of directions, time, commands

Other difficulties:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Expression oneself and understanding a language
  • Poor focus and memory
  • Improper emotional response, Etc.

Despite one or more of these struggles, a child might be brighter in other areas of academics/art and pose immense talent. It takes the right caring to nurture their true strengths.

Treatment for Learning Disabilities

Learning disability cannot be de-rooted. It is a life-long issue that can be improved with proper therapeutic intervention. Special educators and trained professionals can engage children through incentivizing and fun techniques of learning, encouraging their abilities.

Remediation must cater to the personal needs of a child as everyone has different levels of perception and difficulty. However, we all have a dominant intelligence (auditory, visual, language, motor, etc.), and while dealing with children, one must recognize his/her dominant intelligence to enhance learning and retention.

Teaching children with learning difficulties must be explicit in every aspect. They require more exposure to a concept formulated into fun activities and games that target, challenge, and excite them.

Generally, conventional classroom methods involve just 4-5 exposures that do not motivate all students equally. With rightly curated exposures and constant positive reinforcement, a child can be guided well.

‘Multi-sensory teaching’ aims at triggering several memory zones to register and retain learned information. This encompasses methods that are auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and kinetic, like writing on sand, reading aloud, tap math, skip counting, etc. Children may also potentially benefit from alternate therapies like learning art, dance, music, etc. It can arouse their interests and harness their strengths.

Primarily, a child with a learning disability needs to be understood. Parents must extend empathy, support, and care to motivate the child.

Understand and help better with MANAS Learning

Here at MANAS Learning, we create the right learning environment with dedicated methods. We aim at providing children with extra attention and customized instruction.

Take your first step with our basic free or paid assessments to understand and identify learning disability in children. We also cater counseling, therapies, and classes according to every child’s specific needs. We continually monitor and reform our ways of teaching to suit and strengthen the child’s capabilities. Children with learning disabilities can majorly benefit from different classroom settings and we make it happen!

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