The most common learning disability deals with developing language and reading skills. Unlike physiological illnesses, learning disability would not have any tell-tale signs on a baby’s body; hence diagnosis of the disability often does not happen until the time the infant is sent to school.
Even then in many cases, the disability goes unnoticed and unchecked through the entire life of the individual, resulting in low self-esteem and poor academic achievement of the affected individual.
Hence, early identification followed with effective treatment and assistance is recommended, as it can help individuals to function better in society.
Some common symptoms that can indicate the existence of learning disabilities are:
- Late talking, compared to other children; and pronunciation problems
- Slow growth in vocabulary and problem with finding the right words
- Trouble in learning numbers, the alphabets, days of the week, and other list-like content
- Extremely restless and easily distracted behaviour
- Trouble interacting with peers
- Poor ability to follow directions, commands, or routines
- Poor concentration
- Difficulty with activities like buttoning, zipping and tying
- Difficulty in memorising information and instructions
Some common types of learning disabilities include:
- Dyslexia – A language-based learning disability in which a person has trouble understanding words, sentences, and paragraphs
- Dyscalculia – A mathematical disability in which a person has difficulty in solving arithmetic problems and comprehending maths concepts
- Dysgraphia – A writing-related disability in which the affected individual has difficulty in forming words, arranging letters, and writing sentences within a defined space
- Dyspraxia – A common disorder which affects gross or fine motor coordination in children. It is a chronic neurological disorder that usually shows up in early childhood. The affected child has problems with movements.
- Auditory and Visual Processing Disabilities – It is a sensory disability that causes difficulty in understanding language, despite normal hearing and vision
Treating the problem first begins with identifying the symptoms and then relating them to the existence of the illness. Many of the times, a perfectly normal infant may also display similar signs. Academic failure may simply be because of inattentiveness or lack of eagerness, and not any processing or learning disability.
However, once child specialists or psychologists point out the presence of a learning disability in the baby, coming to terms with the disorder is the next big step. Psychological counselling and therapy (speech, or whatever specific aspect that needs to be treated) should be introduced right from the early days to avoid any future complications.
The family needs to accept the disability and encourage growth and progress in the child. They shouldn’t get easily demotivated when their child achieves developmental milestones at a slower pace, compared to other babies. With proper specialised attentions focussed educational programmes, these disabilities can be overcome in some cases.