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Learning Disabilities

Understanding Learning Disabilities

During the early i.e. preschool years, all children undergo rapid physical, mental   and emotional growth. As each child is different, even this growth occurs at different rates. It is, therefore, important to know whether a particular child is ready to learn the basics and will be able to succeed in school.

There are several reasons that may render a child unable to learn. Common among these are

  • Hearing problems
  • Poor motivation
  • Emotional problems
  • Mental retardation
Some school-age children with none of the above problems still have trouble learning in a school. These children may have normal, near normal or above normal intelligence. This inability to reach their full potential is called a LEARNING DISABILITY.

In many cases, the cause of a learning disability is not known. It is largely believed that children with such learning disabilities have a problem with the way their brain handles information. A learning disability (LD) is a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. This hinders the normal learning process. Learning disabilities often make children feel bad about themselves. Parents need to understand this and provide their children with love, support and encouragement.

The problem they are going through is similar to a situation when you see a distorted picture on your television with the message �please do not adjust your TV set� . Apparently there is nothing wrong with the TV camera at the station or the TV set in your home. Yet, the picture is not clear. It is caused by �technical problems� at the station. Something in the internal workings of the TV station prevents it from presenting a good picture.

There may be nothing wrong with the way children with learning disabilities take in information. Their senses of sight and sound are fine. The problem occurs in the brain after the eyes or ears have done their job. It is easy to blame reading difficulties on the eyes. But, visual problems do not cause learning disabilities. Children with learning disabilities do not have more eye problems than the rest of the population.

This problem in brain function delays the normal learning process. For this reason, it requires special teaching methods. A learning disability is not just a minor problem that simply goes away as children mature. A learning disability must be identified and treated early. If it is, there�s a greater chance that children with learning disabilities will reach their potential. If it isn�t, it could lead to major emotional problems causing depression and withdrawal. Both factors are linked to school failure.

Learning disabilities are not uncommon. They appear to be more common in boys than girls. From all the school students that may be in need of special education, about half have some type of learning disability.

Learning disabilities can affect a child�s ability in the areas of:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Mathematics
Learning disabilities (LD) vary from child to child. One child with LD may not have the same kind of learning problems as another child. Someone may have trouble with reading and writing. Another child with LD may have problems with understanding maths. Still another child may have trouble in each of these areas, as well as with understanding what people are saying.

There is no "cure" for learning disabilities. They are life-long. All the same Learning Disabilities are highly correctable and children with LD can be high achievers and can be taught ways to get around the learning disability. With the right help, children with LD can and do learn successfully.

Next month:

More about LD � how to suspect?

One of our experts, Dr Vishpala Parthasarathy, is doing exemplary work in the field of LD. Any parent seeking help can write in at 

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