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Recognising learning disabilities

recognising learning disabilities

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When one of your children is diagnosed with anything whether it is physical, mental or emotional it is very natural to feel a bit shocked and concerned. If the diagnosis is something that you have been expecting you may feel relieved to have it officially confirmed but whatever your reaction an official label of learning disabilities can bring about a host of things to understand and adjust to.

Whilst academic success is important it is not the main ingredient for happiness. If a child feels loved and accepted for who they are it is much more likely that they will feel confident and be more equipped to deal with the stresses and strains that life deals them. With encouragement and the right support any child can learn to tackle life confidently. Recognising learning disabilities is important as this positive reinforcement will help develop their own sense of self-worth and strengthen their determination to keep going through challenging times.

Its not down to intelligence!

Learning disabilities are an umbrella term for a wide range of learning problems. They are not to do with intelligence or motivation, it is simply that their brains are wired differently to what has been shown to be more typical. What this results in is that people with learning difficulties see, hear and understand things differently which, especially if unrecoginsed, can lead to problems with learning new information and skills. The most common types of learning disabilities involve problems with reading, writing, math, reasoning, listening, and speaking.

recognising learning diabilities

What should i be looking for?

It’s not always easy to identify learning disabilities. There is no single symptom or profile that you can look to as proof of a problem. However, some warning signs are more common than others at different ages. If you’re aware of what they are, you’ll be able to catch a learning disorder early and quickly take steps to get your child help.Examples of common preschool signs include:Problems pronouncing words trouble finding the right word; difficulty rhyming; 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  and trouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, learning to tie shoes.

For older children aged 5-9 you might notice trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds; inability to blend sounds to make words; confusing basic words when reading; consistently misspells words and makes frequent reading errors; trouble learning basic math concepts; difficulty telling time and remembering sequences and slow to learn new skills. And for secondary school children aged 10-13 it is helpful to look out for 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 single document; poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized); trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud or poor handwriting.

Keep it in perspective

Be careful to keep a healthy perspective if you do notice some of the above symptoms. It is common when looking for things like these to start noticing every single thing on the list. It will be helpful if you have someone that you can talk through what you are becoming aware of in your child, another parent, good friend or someone that you find helpful in the teaching staff at their school. Share what you have noticed and also how you feel about it, don’t censor any of your reactions they will all be very normal. It is also helpful to remind yourself that everyone faces obstacles in their life and this is possibly your child’s version of that.

Do as much research into different learning disabilities as you feel is helpful so that you can become an expert in your own situation  check out websites such as Mencap. Remember that your role is to be an advocate for your child and that you are also a role model for them in terms of how you approach the situation, for example they will pick up on your optimism and open mindedness. One of the golden rules for any diagnoses is that the person is not defined by it, that instead everyone remembers that it represents one area of the persons life but that there are many more areas of strength. Make your intention to focus on your child’s skills, talents and interests and avoid putting the learning disability at the centre of their or your life.







About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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