Recognizing the Signs of Learning Disabilities

As any parent of a school-aged child knows, kids can be cruel. Such cruelty is further magnified when children have a learning disability, one that noticeably comes to light in the classroom. While this can make kids feel as if they're not as smart as the rest of the class, that's typically not the case. Children with learning disabilities can be of above-average intelligence. That's evidenced by the nearly 3 million school-aged children with learning disabilities in the United States alone. Such figures, reported by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). For parents, recognizing the different symptoms early can help kids avoid having to struggle needlessly.


Children with learning disabilities can be of above-average intelligence.
Dyslexia is a disability where the brain has trouble processing information correctly. Undiagnosed children can be at a major disadvantage, as class revolves around reading and writing. These are areas where dyslexia causes its biggest problems. While not a reflection of a child's intelligence, poor grades can result if the problem remains undiagnosed. Children often don't exhibit signs of the disorder early on. Early reading and writing, for instance, typically poses no problem. However, as studies shift toward grammar, reading comprehension and more in-depth writing, children with dyslexia begin to struggle. Another symptom to look out for is trouble speaking and understanding others. Difficulty with vocabulary as well as structuring thoughts are also symptoms. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of dyslexia, is the effect on a child's self-image. As mentioned, dyslexia is not a reflection of intelligence, but children, can falsely assume that it is.


One of the toughest subjects in school for most kids to grasp is math. Sometimes that difficulty can be the result of dyscalculia. While each disability with math is different, there are certain early indicators parents should be on the lookout for. According to NCLD, among the earliest indicators are trouble understanding the meaning of numbers; difficulty sorting objects by shape, size or color; trouble recognizing groups or patterns; and trouble comparing and contrasting by using concepts such as bigger/smaller or taller/shorter. For school-aged children, problems might be less subtle. Children with dyscalculia might struggle memorizing times tables. A problem with organizing ideas with respect to math could indicate dyscalculia as well. This is known as a visual-spatial problem, where the child understands the facts to solve a problem but will struggle putting those facts and solutions down on paper. If these problems go untreated or undiagnosed, older children, will exhibit difficulty moving on to higher level math courses.


Symptoms include poor handwriting, difficulty with spelling, and trouble putting thoughts on paper.
Like dyscalculia, dysgraphia, which concerns problems with writing, has the potential to be written off by parents and educators alike because it's common for parents to feel that their children will struggle with math or writing. Dysgraphia should be taken seriously, just like any other learning disability. Symptoms include poor handwriting, difficulty with spelling, and trouble putting thoughts on paper. While not everyone's handwriting will be perfect, it's important not to brush aside these symptoms. Avoiding writing, having a tight and awkward grip on a pencil, and tiring quickly while writing are indicative of dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is a processing disorder. As such, different degrees of the disability exist, so not all children will have all of the symptoms. Treatment is tailored to each individual's problems, whether finding a more suitable writing utensil or having students proofread their own work after a delay. By delaying such proofing, children are better equipped to recognize their own mistakes. To learn more about learning disabilities and possible treatment, visit the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) website at www.ncld.org.

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