There may be nothing wrong with the way children with learning disabilities take in information. Their senses of sight and sound are fine. The problem occurs in the brain after the eyes or ears have done their job. For example, it is easy to blame reading difficulties on the eyes. But, visual problems do not cause learning disabilities. Children with learning disabilities have no greater rate of eye problems than the rest of the population.
This problem in brain function delays the normal learning process. For this reason, it requires special teaching methods. A learning disability is not just a minor problem that simply goes away as children mature.
A learning disability must be identified and treated early. If it is, there’s a greater chance that children with learning disabilities will reach their potential. If it isn’t, it could lead to major emotional problems causing depression and withdrawal. Both factors are linked to school failure.
Learning disabilities are not common. They appear to be more common in boys than girls. More than one out of 10 public school students may be in need of special education. Of these, about half have some type of learning disability.
Diagnosing and Treating Learning Disabilities.
It may not be easy to detect learning disabilities in children. This type of problem does not reveal itself in a day or a week. There are warning signs, however, that can help parents know if their children have a learning disability. Parents should note if any of the situations listed below are present in their preschool children:
- Delays in language development. By two and a half years old, children should be able to put sentences together.
- Trouble with speech. By 3 years old, parents and others should understand what children say more than half of the time.
- Trouble with coordination. Just before kindergarten, children should be able to ties shoes, button, hop and cut.
- Short attention span. Between 3 and 5 years old, children should be able to sit still while being read a story. (Attention span should increase with age during this period.)
Regard these signs as risk factors only. Remember that no child develops in the same manner or at the same pace. These signs may not always reveal a learning disability. If you have any questions about the proper activities for your child’s age, talk to your pediatrician.
The people who have the most contact with the children are parents, teachers or pediatricians. Doctors or teachers can give screening tests to see if a problem exists. The pediatrician can help the parents decide if further evaluation is needed. This may include an eye exam by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), a psychological exam by a psychologist, an ear exam by an ear/nose/throat doctor, or a language assessment by a speech and language clinician.
Despite many frustrations, proper help from a number of professionals can make a difference. While there is no cure for a learning disability, children may learn to achieve and lead a fruitful life in spite of their disability.
There are people and groups who offer simple answers or solutions for learning disabilities. Be cautious of these claims. Some allege that visual treatments can help although no data support this theory. Others believe in special diets and exercise. Still others claim certain vitamins will provide children’s bodies with a needed balance and cure the problem. Keep in mind there is no guidance to support any of these treatments. There are no quick fixes for a learning disability. Dealing with this problem is tough. It’s often a lifelong battle.
Early identification and treatment cannot be stressed enough. With the proper help, children with learning disabilities can become quite successful later in life. Famous Americans with learning disabilities include inventor Thomas Edison, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, scientist Albert Einstein and athlete Bruce Jenner. These people rose above their disability and went on to achieve great personal and national goals.
People who learn to overcome their disabilities can do great things in life. For children with a learning disability, nothing can replace a good educational program and proper medical management. As important are loving and supportive parents, family and friends.