Certain disorders make acquisition of some academic skills difficult for children.
Kayode felt like he was always hitting the books. While his friends were meeting for pickup soccer games after school, he was back home in his room reading and re-reading the same book. Regardless of how hard he studied, he had difficulty remembering and his grades stayed average. Meanwhile, his friend Deji, who never seemed to study, always aced tests. It didn’t seem fair.
As a result of Kayode ‘s frustration, his dad and class teacher made an appointment with the school’s Educational psychologist who later diagnosed him with a learning disorder. Although, Kayode felt relieved to know what was going on, he was also worried. He didn’t like the “disorder” label. And he was concerned about what it might mean for his future.
Would he be able to go to college and study engineering as he’d hoped?
What are Learning Disorders?
Learning disabilities, difficulties or disorders are an umbrella term for a wide variety of learning problems. A learning disorder is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Children with learning disorders aren’t lazy or dumb. In fact, most are just as smart as everyone else. A learning disorder can cause a person to have trouble learning and using certain skills. The skills most often affected are:
Possible causes of Learning Disorders
According to Sheldon Horowitz, Ed.D, experts aren’t exactly sure what causes learning disorders. However, learning disorders may stem from subtle disturbances in brain structure and function that may begin before or even after birth which includes:
Heredity/Genetic predisposition: Often, learning disabilities run in the family, so it’s not uncommon to find that people with learning disabilities have parents or other relatives with similar difficulties.
Problems during pregnancy and birth: Learning disabilities may be caused by illness or injury during or before birth. It may also be caused by low birth weight, lack of oxygen, drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, and premature or prolonged labor.
Incidents after birth:Severe head injuries or trauma, nutritional deprivation, central nervous system infections and exposure to toxic substances (i.e. lead) can contribute to learning disabilities.
Signs and Symptoms of Learning Disorders.
Learning disorders are usually very different from one child to another. One child may struggle with reading and spelling, while another loves literacy but can’t understand numeracy. Another child may experience difficulties comprehending information.
It’s not always easy to identify learning disorders. However, some warning signs are more common than others at different ages.
The following checklist lists some common red flags:
Trouble finding the right word
Problems pronouncing words
Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, days of the week
Difficulty following directions or learning routines
Difficulty controlling crayons, pencils, and scissors or coloring within the lines
Ages 5 – 9
Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
Unable to blend sounds to make words
Confuses basic words when reading
Consistently misspells words and makes frequent reading errors
Trouble learning basic math concepts
Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences
Difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills
Trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems
Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud
Spells the same word differently in a write-up
Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized)
Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud
Intervention for Learning Disorders
A child with a learning disorder should receive his or her own Individualized Education Program, (IEP) after a thorough assessment has been carried out by an Educational psychologist. This personalized and written education plan lists individualized goals for the child, specifies what services and tutoring the child will receive and the specialists who will work with the child.
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