Children who understand the world through learning and processing disorders often have a very hard time at school. Their struggles could translate to low self-esteem and a deficient drive to success.
Most children struggle with academic assignments and may avoid doing school tasks regularly. However, sometimes, having difficulty with learning can indicate an underlying learning disorder that needs profound attention and support.
A learning disorder occurs when the brain processes and works with information atypically, leading to a gap between expected skills and actual performance.
It is essential that parents and educators collaborate to provide the necessary support to help these children build confidence in their abilities and thrive academically.
Learning and processing disorders can affect multiple aspects, including reading, writing, math, speech, or socializing skills.
Learning disorders that affect reading skills relate to a child’s struggle with understanding how spoken language relates to written letters. When distinguishing sounds becomes difficult, the ability to read can become impaired, leading to dyslexia.
Children with dyslexia often struggle with the following:
- Spelling words
- Reading at a typical pace
- Understanding what they read
- Recalling what they read
- Making conclusions based on their reading
Writing involves complex skills, including visual perception, motor coordination, and information processing. When a child experiences a learning disorder in writing, known as dysgraphia, it can cause the following problems:
- Slow and hard-to-read handwriting
- Trouble recalling how to form letters, create shapes, or draw lines
- Constant spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes
- Trouble putting abstract ideas into writing
A learning disorder in math, also called dyscalculia, may cause issues with:
- Understanding how numbers work
- Doing math problems and learning basic rules
- Using math symbols.
- Organizing and recording information
Children with speech and language disorders can have trouble using and understanding spoken or written words but usually work well with visual information. They may have trouble with:
- Stuttering: Trouble speaking smoothly
- Articulation Errors: Difficulty forming certain words or sounds.
- Childhood Apraxia: Issues with the lips, jaw, and tongue movement when speaking.
Children with nonverbal learning disabilities often have good verbal skills but may have trouble with the following:
- Perceiving where objects are located
- Understanding abstract concepts
- Understanding social cues and people’s emotions
- Having physical coordination
- Paying attention, planning, and organizing tasks
- Understanding higher-level reading or writing tasks
Although learning and processing disorders don’t have a direct cause, some factors could increase their likelihood during childhood:
- Having close relatives who suffer from learning disorders
- Premature and low weight at birth
- Exposure to alcohol or drugs during pregnancy or after birth
- Emotional trauma or abuse during early childhood
- Physical trauma that causes injuries to the head or nervous system
It is common for children to encounter challenges when developing academic skills. However, if these symptoms persist for over six months and do not improve even with specialized tutoring, it may indicate a learning disorder.
Common signs may include the following:
- Trouble reading, spelling, writing, or math
- Inability to understand or follow instructions properly
- Short-memory issues
- Lack of coordination while walking or playing sports
- Easily losing personal items
- Trouble completing their homework on time
- Constantly acting out when having to complete their school tasks
If your child has learning issues during childhood and does not receive proper support, they will not be able to perform higher-level tasks in high school or college. They may also face complications, such as:
- School anxiety
- Low self-esteem
- Tiredness and less motivation
If you suspect your child is facing challenges while learning, you can ask the school staff to test them for a learning disorder or seek a private evaluation. This evaluation will encompass a series of tests to check for any vision or hearing issues and assess their information processing skills.
In addition to test results, your child's psychologist will assess teacher feedback and school performance. They may also conduct tests to identify mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
A child with a learning and processing disorder may experience significant improvements through a comprehensive treatment approach. This involves applying multiple techniques in their learning process and having an active and solid support system encompassing school, family, and therapy.
These techniques may include:
- Tutoring: Having extra help from a specialized tutor can help your child develop essential skills to perform better in school and improve their organizational abilities.
- Individualized Education Program (IEP): A specialized plan that helps set learning goals and specifically describes the services your child may need while at school.
- Occupational Therapy: A specialized psychologist in learning and processing disorders can help your child improve their writing, calculating, and speech skills.
- Medication Management: Your child's healthcare provider might suggest starting a medication program to treat any correlated mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
- Complementary Treatments: This may include diet changes, the use of vitamins, and visual exercises.