1. What is a learning difficulty (LD)?

The term itself refers to a neurological language-based cognitive disorder that affects a person’s ability to read, write, speak, listen, do mathematical calculations, use correct spelling and grammar or organize information as well as many other processing-based functions. Four of the most common LDs are:

  • Dyslexia (trouble with reading)
  • Dyspraxia (trouble with daily routine performances in that particular age group)
  • Dyscalculia (trouble with arithmetic and math)
  • Dysgraphia (trouble with writing)
2. How would these affect children in real terms?

If children have any of these disorders, their experience with learning may be completely different to that of other children. They are highly likely to have difficulty interpreting information in a way that is compatible with traditional teaching and schooling methods. With dyslexia, children may struggle with letter/word recognition or understanding words and phrases. With dyscalculia, they may struggle to memorize and organize numbers or tell the time. With dysgraphia, they may struggle with spelling, organizing information to write, or the act of writing itself.

3. Is there a difference between Special Needs and Learning difficulties?

“Special Needs” is a term referring to all disorders, disabilities and conditions that require additional support. “Learning Disabilities” is just one specification belonging to this term. LDs are not the equivalent to the learning problems that come as a result of needs such as visual, hearing or motor disabilities, intellectual impairment, emotional disturbance or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

4. How common are Learning difficulties?

More common than most think. An average of 10% of the world’s population have some form of a learning disability.

5. How do you help someone with a learning difficulty to learn better?

This is dependent on the nature of the learning disability, and how it manifests itself in each child. Every person is different, and therefore the singular methodological approach typically provided in mainstream educational facilities is often not sufficient for a child with a learning disability. Each child has a unique learning style, so it is important to tailor support in order to capitalize on their particular strengths and weaknesses.

6. Will my child grow out of it?

A learning disability stays with the person throughout their life. Nonetheless, with ample support and the right resources, the person can learn to adjust to the method of learning that best suits them, in order to approach everyday tasks and experiences comfortably. With the right support, every child with a learning disability can learn and thrive.

7. Can you develop a learning difficulty? When are learning difficulties usually diagnosed?

The causes of LDs remain misunderstood. They are genetic components and are usually hereditary, but can also be developed as a result of problems during pregnancy and birth, or due to accidents after birth. LDs can be discovered at any age, but are usually diagnosed between the ages of three and thirteen. Symptoms are varied and contingent on the age of the child. In early childhood, children may have difficulty pronouncing words and rhyming. Between the ages of five and nine years old, they may have difficulty with spelling, telling the time and remembering sequences. In the early teen years their difficulties may be with reading comprehension, handwriting or organizational skills.

8. My child has ADHD. Is this a learning difficulty?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are not strictly learning disabilities, but often pose as barriers to learning, particularly in the classroom setting. Children with ADD/ADHD may be inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive or have trouble paying attention and controlling their behaviour. Whilst not an LD, both disorders usually require additional learning support and alternative teaching methods to help the child focus, stay calm and be attentive.

9. My child seems to be struggling in school. How do I find out if they have a learning difficulty?

If you are worried about your child, the first thing to do is speak to their teachers or learning support staff. Ask about their behaviour in class and any concerns that they have in relation to their learning or behaviour. The only accurate way to determine whether a child has an LD is to undertake a Psycho-Educational or a Multi-Disciplinary Assessment. Assessments must only be undertaken by specially-trained professionals, using specially selected standardized assessment tools based on the difficulties that the child is experiencing. Our specialists tailor each assessment to the individual needs of each child they work with, in order to implement the best possible support.

10. Is there anything I can do to help my child with their learning difficulty?

As a parent, it can be hard to understand your child’s learning disability or know how to respond to it in order to help them. Your priority should be to make sure that your child is receiving the additional support they need in the right educational environment.

Dyslexia
1. What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific reading difficulty due to a defect in the brain’s processing of graphic symbols. It is a learning difficulty that alters the way the brain processes written material and is typically characterised by difficulties in word recognition, spelling, and decoding. The problem in dyslexia is a linguistic one, not a visual one. The condition stems from differences in parts of the brain that process language. Imaging scans in people with dyslexia show that areas of the brain.

2. Can Individuals Who Have Dyslexia Learn to Read?

Yes. It is a myth that if you don’t teach a dyslexic kid by the age of 9, she will never read. Dyslexia is treated using specific educational multi-sensory approach that will build upon her phonological awareness

3. How can I help my dyslexic child at home?

Read aloud to your child. Encourage reading time.

4. Is there a special test for diagnosing dyslexia?

Diagnostic tests often cover the following areas:

Background information, intelligence, oral language skills, word recognition, decoding – the ability to read new words by using letter-sound knowledge, phonological processing, automaticity and fluency skills, reading comprehension; vocabulary knowledge; family history and early development

5. Do all students with reading difficulties have dyslexia?

Although dyslexia is common, it’s frequently confused with other learning and attention issues. Understanding the characteristics of dyslexia—and how it overlaps with or is distinct from other issues. For Example, Kids with ADHD, dysgraphia etc all struggle with reading, comprehension and writing. It’s often hard to tease apart whether one or both of these issues is contributing to a child’s difficulties.

6. What are the core difficulties?

Delayed speech development compared with other children of the same age (although this can have many different causes) speech problems, such as not being able to pronounce long words properly and “jumbling” up phrases – for example, saying “hecilopter” instead of “helicopter”, or “beddy tear” instead of “teddy bear” problems expressing themselves using spoken language, such as being unable to remember the right word to use, or putting together sentences  incorrectly problems learning the names and sounds of letters spelling that is unpredictable and inconsistent putting letters and figures the wrong way round – such as writing “6” instead “9”, or “b” instead of “d” confusing the order of letters in words difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions struggling to learn sequences, such as days of the week or the alphabet slow writing speed poor handwriting. Child with poor phonological awareness may not be able to correctly answer a question like, what word would you have if you changed the “p” sound in ‘pot’ to an “h” sound?

7. Are coloured lenses a cure for dyslexia?

It’s reasonable, logical, and almost always wrong! Dyslexia is a language processing problem, not a vision problem, and the valid remedy for dyslexia is targeted language therapy with daily practice, not eye exercises, tinted lenses, or reading glasses.

Dyspraxia
1. What is dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia or is a condition that causes poor physical coordination and motor skills. It can cause trouble with fine motor skills, which can affect physical task of writing and. a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body. In addition to the physical impairments, developmental coordination disorder is associated with problems with memory, especially working memory. This typically results in difficulty remembering instructions, difficulty organizing one’s time and remembering deadlines, increased propensity to lose things or problems carrying out tasks which require remembering several steps in sequence (such as cooking)

2. What are the major difficulties?

Whole body movement and motor coordination issues mean that major developmental targets including walking, running, climbing and jumping can be affected. The difficulties vary from person to person and can include the following:

  • Poor timing
  • Poor balance (sometimes even falling over in mid-step). Tripping over one’s own feet is also common.
  • Difficulty combining movements into a controlled sequence.
  • Difficulty remembering the next movement in a sequence.
  • Problems with spatial awareness, or proprioception.
  • Trouble picking up and holding onto simple objects such as pencils, owing to poor muscle tone or proprioception.
  • Difficulty in determining left from right.
  • Cross-laterality, ambidexterity, and a shift in the preferred hand are also common in people with developmental coordination disorder.

Fine motor control

Fine-motor problems can cause difficulty with a wide variety of other tasks such as using a knife and fork, fastening buttons and shoelaces, cooking, brushing one’s teeth, styling one’s hair, shaving, applying cosmetics, opening jars and packets, locking and unlocking doors, and doing housework.

3. What causes dyspraxia/ does it run in the family

Although the exact causes of dyspraxia are unknown, it is thought to be caused by a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body. Researchers also believe that children who were born prematurely, had low birth weights or were exposed to alcohol in the womb may be more likely to have dyspraxia, though it’s not clear why.

4. What are the symptoms in toddlers
  • Is a messy eater, preferring to eat with fingers rather than a fork or spoon
  • Is unable to ride a tricycle or play ball
  • Is delayed at becoming toilet trained
  • Avoids playing with construction toys and puzzles
  • Doesn’t talk as well as kids the same age and might not say single words until age 3

Warning Signs in Preschool or Early Elementary School

  • Often bumps into people and things
  • Has trouble learning to jump and skip
  • Is slow to develop left- or right-hand dominance
  • Often drops objects or has difficulty holding them
  • Has trouble grasping pencils and writing or drawing
  • Has difficulty working buttons, snaps and zippers
  • Speaks slowly or doesn’t enunciate words
  • Has trouble speaking at the right speed, volume and pitch
  • Struggles to play and interact with other kids
5. What is the overlap between dyspraxia and Autism?

Although Dyspraxia may occur in isolation, it frequently coexists with other conditions such as Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, language disorders and social, emotional and behavioural impairments.

6. Can my child overcome dyspraxia?

There is no cure for dyspraxia but there are many strategies that can help. Occupational therapists will look at fine motor and perceptual skills, together with activities of daily living such as household tasks and organisational skills, and help develop strategies to improve these. They can suggest suitable equipment to help with these tasks. Speech therapists can help with speech or language problems and also sometimes with communication and social skills. Counselling can help to overcome some of the problems.

Dysgraphia
1. What is Dysgraphia?

All young kids have some difficulty when it comes to writing or perfecting penmanship. But if your child’s handwriting is consistently distorted or unclear, that may be caused by a learning difficulty called dysgraphia. This is a nervous system problem that affects the fine motor skills needed to write.

2. Is there more than one type?

Yes. The types of dysgraphia are — spatial, motor, or dyslexic

3. What are the Causes?

In adults, it’s sometimes related to a brain injury. In kids, this learning disorder usually occurs along with other learning disabilities such as ADHD and dyslexia.

4. What are the signs?
  • Cramped grip, which may lead to a sore hand
  • Difficulty spacing things out on paper or within margins (poor spatial planning)
  • Frequent erasing
  • Inconsistency in letter and word spacing
  • Poor spelling, including unfinished words or missing words or letters
  • Unusual wrist, body, or paper position while writing
5. How is it Diagnosed?

Dysgraphia is typically identified by licensed psychologists (including school psychologists) who specialize in learning disabilities. They will give your child academic assessments and writing tests. These tests measure fine motor skills and written expression production.

6. What is the difference between Dyspraxia and Dysgraphia?

Dyspraxia affects can impact fine and gross motor skills (please refer DSM-5 manual diagnostic Criteria). Dysgraphia is an issue that impacts written language. It can affect both information and motor processing (which can impact handwriting).

7. How can we help or child at home/school?
  • Accommodationsare changes to how your child learns. Accommodations include typing on a keyboard or other electronic device instead of writing by hand. Allow the student to take extra time on tests. Create oral alternatives to writing assignments. Allow use of reference materials. Use text-to-speech software.
  • Modifications are changes to what your child learns. Examples of modifications include allowing a student to write shorter papers or answer fewer or different test questions than his classmates.
  • Remediation is an approach that targets foundational skills your child needs to master. Some children may practice copying letters, using paper with raised lines to help them write in straight lines. An occupational therapist may provide exercises to build muscle strength and dexterity and increase hand-eye coordination.
8. Is there a cure?

There is no cure for dysgraphia, and medication will not help. But problems associated with writing and fine motor skills can be improved — especially if you start early. understanding parents, teachers, bosses, and friends can be critical for rebuilding damaged self-esteem

Dyscalculia
1. What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics.

2. What are the Causes?

Developmental dyscalculia is assumed to be caused by a difference in brain function, and/or structure, in areas of the brain involved in mathematics.

3. Why is the brain functioning differently in dyscalculic individuals?

There are many possible causes, including both genetic and environmental, and an interaction of the two. The cause for one individual may not be the same as for another, and in many cases it may not be obvious. Genetic causes include known genetic disorders such as Turner’s syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Velocardiofacial syndrome, Williams syndrome. In addition studies suggest that there are genes present in the general population which increase the risk of dyscalculia. Known environmental causes include alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and pre-term birth. Both of these can result in underdevelopment of the brain.

4. What are the signs?
  • Delay in counting. Less automatic processing of written numbers.
  • Difficulties in memorizing arithmetic facts. Particular difficulty with subtraction
  • Difficulty using finger counting (slow, inaccurate, unable to immediately recognise finger configurations)
  • Difficulty decomposing numbers (e.g. recognizing that 10 is made up of 4 and 6)
  • Lack of “number sense”.
  • Trouble learning and understanding reasoning methods and multi-step calculation procedures
  • Anxiety about or negative attitude towards maths (caused by the dyscalculia!)
5. How to teach math if my kid has dyscalculia?
  • Explore multisensory techniques for teaching mathyou can use at home.
  • Discover software, appsand Chrome tools to help your child with math.
  • Look into free online assistive technology tools for math on the web.
  • Find board games your child can play to build math skills.
  • Learn ways to help build your child’s self-esteem.
  • See what your child can say to self-advocate in grade schooland middle school.
  • Get tips on how to be an advocate for your child at school.
  • Discover your child’s strengths.
  • Let her/his use the fingers and paper when she counts.
  • Draw pictures of math word problems.
  • Schedule computer time to play math games.
  • Praise her/his hard work, not the outcome.
  • Talk with her/him about her/him learning disability.