ADHD Assessment

Demystifying Learning Disability

Demystifying Learning Disability

Learning Disability, or Dyslexia, is today a very common and familiar term for parents. Yet, it is surprising to notice how many parents are either unaware, or unwilling to know about this term. Working closely with schools and parents, we notice that many parents are not ready to accept the diagnosis of Learning Disability for their child, without realising that they are in fact resisting help for their child. The belief that a good tuition teacher, or simply time, will solve their child’s academic difficulties, is still commonly observed. Parents are quite open to new things like gadgets and fashions, but sadly, they are unable to appreciate academic challenges that their child faces. If we show a little empathy and acceptance towards our child, it will defiantly make a huge difference to their performance as well as their self-esteem.

However, still some parents aren’t yet aware about this term. Unfortunately, also noticed, parents are not ready for diagnosis, they resist helping our own child. Don’t you think this is sad?  Parents feel our child will be fine after certain age or he/she only need good tutor, I feel sorry for them. 

So what is Learning Disability all about?

  • Children with Learning Disability possess average or above average intelligence, but still they struggle to achieve academic success.
  • Thus, typically there is a gap between the child’s potential, and his performance on class tests or exams.
  • The child may have difficulties in a number of areas such as reading, writing, calculation, difficulty in perceiving, organising, comprehension, understanding and sensory difficulty.
  • Three primary kinds of Learning Disability are:
    • Dyslexia (reading disorder)
    • Dysgraphia (writing disorder)
    • dyscalculia (mathematical disorder) 
  • Children may have a standalone disability, or a combination of the above. Often, children also present a mixed pattern with symptoms of all.
  • Recently, many children have also been noted to suffer from Dyspraxia (non-verbal Learning Disability), which is characterised by coordination difficulties and spatial challenges.

How do I know if my child has Learning Disability?

If your child shows any of the above symptoms, the best thing to do is get the child assessed. If your child’s school has a counsellor, bring it to her notice and she will suggest next steps to you. If not, then take your child to a counseling center, a psychologist’s clinic, or to a developmental paediatrician to initiate the process of assessment. There are many private clinics and counseling centers where the assessment can be done. Alternately, you can also approach one of the certified government hospitals for the same. The assessment comprises of:

  • A physical test to rule out sensory issues (hearing, vision and so on).
  • An IQ test to check the child’s intelligence.
  • A psycho-educational assessment to pin-point areas of strength and development.
Learning Disability

What happens once my child is diagnosed with Learning Disability?

The first step is to initiate remedial education for the child. Remediation is done by special educators who are training in working with children with Learning Disability, and who help the child by teaching him or her strategies to circumvent the specific challenges the child has. An individualised education plan (IEP) is also normally drawn up for the child.

Additionally, if a child has learning disability then he will get provisions from school as well as the board. The provisions depend on the child’s exact nature of problems as well as the school board.

Some of the provisions are as follows:-

  • Extra time for exam
  • A writer for children with dysgraphia
  • A reader for children with reading difficulties
  • Exemption from one language other than English
  • Spelling errors and incorrect sentence construction to be ignored.
  • Errors in respect of showing directions in Geography to be ignored.
  • Students are permitted to write in ordinary print
  • Exempted from having to write answers in detail during exams.
  • Exam centre near their home.

Lastly, is Learning Disability curable?

Well, that is a tricky question! Being a disability implies that it stays with the individual. However, it can certainly be managed, and managed very well at that! Early identification and early intervention go a long way to teach the child alternative learning strategies, coping skills, and most importantly, retain the child’s self-esteem. By the time the child is out of school, if he has had the right inputs at the right time, he would have with him the wherewithal to meet Life head on, with or without Learning Disability!

Ms. Poonam Ghadigaonkar

Senior Counseling Psychologist

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