Understanding Learning Disabilities

learning disabilitiesDo you have a child who struggles with schoolwork? Does he or she dread writing essays, completing math problems, or reading out loud? Most students struggle with school at some point; however, if a particular academic area of learning consistently presents problems, a learning disorder may be playing a role. Gathering as much research you can about learning disabilities will help you understand what your child needs, and often private tutoring plays an important role. Here are a few examples of learning disabilities that parents and private tutors should understand:

Dyslexia: Learning Problems in Reading
There are two basic types of reading learning disabilities. Basic reading problems occur when students have trouble understanding sound, letter, and word relationships. Reading comprehension problems take place when students do not understand the meaning of words, phrases, and paragraphs. Indications of reading difficulty include problems with letter and word recognition, vocabulary skills, reading speed, and fluency. Many public schools have a reading specialist who can provide an initial screening for reading disabilities. Parents should take time at home to read every day and actively engage the child with the text (discuss the pictures, pick out familiar words, etc.). If a child is resistant to these type of reading activities at home, he or she may benefit from working with a private reading tutor.

Dyscalculia: Learning Problems in Math
Learning disabilities in math can vary significantly depending on your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses, including memory, organization, sequencing, visual abilities, and language skills. Children who have math-based learning disorders may have difficulty organizing and memorizing numbers, understanding operation signs, and basic computation facts. It’s imperative to narrow down the specific problem areas in order to provide appropriate help.

Dysgraphia: Learning Problems in Writing
Writing learning disabilities may include the physical act of writing or the mental process of comprehending and synthesizing information. A basic writing disorder refers to physical struggles creating words and letters. An expressive writing disability has to do with the ability to organize thoughts through writing. If the process of sitting down and writing is a struggle for your child, seek out opportunities to make the process

fun, such as learning to write favorite words or choosing topics that appeal to the child’s interests.

Dyspraxia: Learning Disabilities in Motor Skills
Motor difficulty consists of issues with coordination and movement, including both fine motor skills (i.e. writing) and gross motor skills (i.e. running). Some people refer to motor skill as “output” activities because of how they relate to the brain’s output of information. In order to complete any type of motor activity, the brain has to communicate effectively with the necessary limbs. Children who have motor skill disabilities may struggle with basic physical skills that necessitate hand-eye coordination, such as zipping a jacket or holding a pencil. An occupational therapist (OT) can provide an initial motor skill assessment and offer suggestions for both the school and home environments.

Aphasia/Dysphasia: Learning Disabilities in Language
Language and communication disabilities involve the incapacity to comprehend or produce spoken language. Language is considered to be another output activity because it requires organizing thoughts in the brain and recalling the appropriate words to verbally express thoughts and communicate with others. Indications of a language-based learning disability include difficulty with verbal language skills (i.e. speech fluency, retelling a story) and comprehending the meanings of certain words.

Auditory and Visual Processing Problems
The ears and eyes are the primary means of transporting information to the brain. This process is also known as “input.” If a person’s ears or eyes aren’t functioning properly, the learning process can be compromised.

  • Auditory processing disorder. The ability to hear is referred to as “receptive language” or “auditory processing skills.” This ability can significantly impact a person’s capacity to write, spell, and read. Difficulty with hearing sounds at the correct speed or distinguishing between subtle sounds can make it tough to master simple reading and writing concepts.
  • Visual processing disorder. Issues with visual perception or “visual processing” include missing subtle shape differences, skipping words, reversing letters or numbers, and skipping letters and lines. These skills can have an effect on reading comprehension, math, and fine and gross motor skills.

If you suspect that your child has an auditory or visual processing problem, consider having your child screened for learning disabilities. Working to assist the underlying problem, such as with a private tutor, is the best way to ensure academic success!




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