The exact cause for learning disabilities (LD’s) has not yet been proven, although three factors are considered to have significant effects:
Genetic Influences – there is a possibility that learning disorders are passed down from one generation to the next, as children with learning disabilities can be traced to older relatives with the same or similar symptoms.
Brain Development – before and after the birth of a child, there are many factors that affect brain development – positively or negatively. Low birth weight, premature birth, lack of oxygen and head injuries may hamper development significantly.
Environmental Impacts – poor nutrition and an unhealthy air or water environment may cause learning disabilities in children, whether in youth or adult life.
A child who has learning disabilities is not necessarily less competent than another who has none- intelligence is not dampened by learning disabilities. Some children with LD’s have proven to be more intelligent than their counterparts. Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and Alexander Graham bell had learning disabilities.
The most common struggles for children with LD’s are related to reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia) and mathematical (dyscalculia) ability. Learning Disabilities affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, analyze or store the information it receives. This manifests itself in different ways, but the usual result is that these children lag behind academically.
For young children with reading difficulties, it is helpful to teach them to associate pictures with words and sounds. This can be done while storytelling, shopping, or when walking past signs (exit, entrance, walk, don’t walk, etc.). Action pictures can be discussed and studied with the child, to encourage him or her to put observations to intelligible words.
Some children with LD’s are placed in Special Education, where their learning needs are met more accurately, and they have higher chances of succeeding with their studies. Children in Special Education may feel isolated from or inferior to their peers, even if they are capable of thinking intelligently. They find solace in after-school activities such as sports, where there is no academic grade to be made.
It is not always easy to spot children with LD’s. Some have devised sophisticated ways of coping with their disabilities, that they are not diagnosed until high school or later. When a child is having difficulty in school, auditory and visual capacity should be checked. When these are ruled out, then psychological tests can be done to determine the child’s learning strengths and abilities, and to detect the presence of one or more learning disabilities.
A common association with children and LD’s is ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This disorder makes it difficult for children to stay focused or stay put long enough for them to learn lessons substantially. ADHD can be treated with proper medication.
Although medication can help alleviate some of the symptoms of learning disabilities, children can benefit greatly from well-devised strategies, designed for accelerated learning. Some schools have developed Individualized Education Programs to bring a Learning disabled child’s academic performance to a higher level. This can be done through one-on-one tutorials, or with the use of special equipment and supplementary materials such as books and audio files.