Parents are often worried when their child has learning problems in school. There are many reasons for school failure, but a common one is a specific learning disability. Children with learning disabilities usually have a normal range of intelligence. They try very hard to follow instructions, concentrate, and "be good" at home and in school. Yet, despite this effort, he or she is not mastering school tasks and falls behind. Learning disabilities affect at least one in 10 schoolchildren.
It is believed that learning disabilities are caused by a difficulty with the nervous system that affects receiving, processing, or communicating information. They may also run in families. Some children with learning disabilities are also hyperactive; unable to sit still, easily distracted, and have a short attention span.
Parents should be aware of the most frequent signals of learning disabilities:
- Difficulty understanding and following instructions.
- Trouble remembering what someone just told her.
Failing to master reading, spelling,
writing, and/or math skills, and thus failing schoolwork.
- Difficulty distinguishing right from left; difficulty identifying words or a tendency to reverse letters, words, or numbers (e.g. confusing 25 with 52, "b" with "d" or "on" with "no").
- Lacks coordination in walking, sports, or small activities such as holding a pencil or tying a shoelace.
- Easily loses or misplaces homework, schoolbooks, or other items.
- Cannot understand the concept of time; is confuse by "yesterday", "today", "tomorrow".
This includes talking with the child and family, evaluating their situation, reviewing the educational testing, and consulting with the school. The child and adolescent psychiatrist will then make recommendations on appropriate school placement, the need for special help such as special educational services or speech-language therapy and help parents assist their child in maximizing his or her learning potential.
Sometimes individual or family psychotherapy will be recommended, and medication may be prescribed.
If you see troubling behaviours that seem persistent and severe, it's time to take action. These questions can help you:
- Does your child seem angry most of the time? Cry a lot? Overreact to things?
- Does your child avoid friends or family?
- Want to be alone all the time? Seem to have lost interest in things usually enjoyed?
- Does your child destroy property, break the law, or do things that are life threatening? Often hurt animals or other people? Seem not to care when you explain that this behaviour is harmful? Use alcohol or other drugs?
- Is your child extremely fearful? Having unexplained fears or worrying more than other young people?
- Is your child limited by poor concentration? Suddenly having trouble making decisions? Grades showing a marked decline?
- Is your obsessed about how he/she looks? Experiencing unexplained changes in sleeping or eating habits? Often complaining about headaches, stomachaches, or other physical problems?
- Does your child feel that life is too hard to handle or talk about suicide?
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, talk to your family doctor or paediatrician about your child's feelings and behaviour.
Extracted from The Star - Fitforlife (Sunday 12th Oct 2003)
We list below some useful websites for your further enquiries:http://www.nea.org