Understanding Specific Learning Disabilities In Children: Top Myths Busted!
There are several myths regarding SLD's and many people believe that children with learning disabilities have low intelligence but the fact is most of such children are as smart as other children of their age. Here's are some more myths.
Lack of clarity in written and vocal expression can be a sign of SLD
- Children with SLD's require unique styles of learning
- Dyslexia affects reading and related language-based processing skills
- Child with SLD may suffer from non-verbal learning disabilities
Specific learning disabilities (SLD) or learning disorders is a term used to describe a developmental disorder that impacts a child's ability to read, comprehend, write or use language and calculate. This is an umbrella term which is used to describe different types of learning issues like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. Even though this condition impacts several children across the world, however, many parents often find it difficult to come to terms with the special needs of their child and are apprehensive about their child being labelled at a very early age.
There are several myths regarding SLD's and many people believe that children with learning disabilities have low intelligence but the fact is most of such children are as smart as other children of their age. These children just need to be taught in ways that are tailored to their unique styles of learning. In order to increase public awareness which can be helpful in providing early diagnosis to such children, it is crucial to understand the various types of learning, the signs and symptoms and the myths surrounding the condition.
Also read: Dyslexia may make it tough to tune out noise
Types of learning disabilities
There are several types of learning disabilities such as -
1. Dyscalculia - It is a specific learning disability that affects a person's ability to understand numbers and learn math facts
2. Dysgraphia - Affects a person's handwriting ability and fine motor skills
3. Dyslexia - Affects reading and related language-based processing skills
4. Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities - An individual will have trouble in interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language and may also have poor coordination
5. Oral / Written Language Disorder and Specific Reading Comprehension Deficit Learning disabilities - This affects an individual's understanding of what they read or spoken language. The ability to express one's self with oral language may also be impacted.
What are the signs of early developmental delays?
1. Incorrect, distracted or slow reading and writing
2. Lack of clarity in written and vocal expression
3. Inaccurate mathematical reasoning and difficulty in remembering number or facts
4. Difficulty in following and retaining visual sequences
5. Missing of words, phrases and sentences
What are the various myths regarding SLD'S?
Myth: Smart students cannot have learning disabilities.
Fact: It is important to understand that there is no connection between the children with learning disabilities and one's IQ. Children who have struggled with reading, writing, or solving math problems may do well in other fields.
Myth: If a child is facing difficulty in learning at school then it indicates that he or she probably has a specific learning disability.
Fact: In order to be completely sure whether one's child has a learning disability, parents can make use of full educational evaluation and can request for this testing through their public school, or through a private evaluator (Child Development Specialist/Psychologist/Special Educator).
Myth: Specific learning disabilities are a result of a poor diet or watching too much TV.
Fact: Specific learning disabilities are neurodevelopmental disorders, and are not caused by external factors such as diet or activity.
Why early intervention is important and how can we create a more inclusive environment for children with specific disabilities?
Therapy for children with special needs can start as early as five months of age. As brain development happens at a faster pace during the first five years of life. Therefore, if the doctors are able to identify the developmental symptoms early and can intervene at an early stage then the chances of success for the child are higher. Furthermore, even though parenting is an endless task, however, parents need to understand that they have to be more delicate with children with special needs.
In order to make an inclusive environment for such children teachers and parents have to be trained in terms of picking up the right signals and thinking it through before bringing up the issue with the parent. Educating teachers and parents can prove to be vital in treating the learning disabilities among children and can also play a crucial role in the overall development of the child. Only proper awareness among parents can help them to identify the symptoms in their child at an early stage and can enable them to seek help from special educators and therapists before it is too late. Only with increased awareness, we can ensure a more inclusive society for such children.
(Dr. Ravi Kumar C P is a Consultant - Paediatric Neurology at Aster CMI Hospital)
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