He would be the smartest lad in the whole school. If instruction were entirely oral”
Learning Disorders (LD) are ‘Hidden Handicaps’ present from birth which prevent a child from learning and performing well in class. These are neurological handicaps due to developmental deficits in the child’s brain.
‘Vikram, a ‘smart’ tad of class V is an outstanding participant in all the extra curricular activities in the school. He is a hero among his classmates. His teachers appreciate him for his leadership qualities. He always has most of the answers when oral questions are asked. But teachers and his parents cannot figure out why this ‘smartness’ is absent in his written work in class, and exams. His parents report that he is very hesitant
to read, reads slowly, makes innumerable spelling mistakes in writing and cannot organise his answers. They are upset about his declining grades.’
There are thousands of children like Vikram who intrigues us they are mart in every thing except studies! n fact, about 10% of all school children suffer from LD. Fortunately, mild forms of Learning Disorders are more common than the severe forms. Due to genetic reasons, boys are affected three times more than girls.
Defining Learning Disorders as Special Needs
Called ‘Dyslexia’ or ‘Learning Disability’ in the past, Learning Disorders (LD) is a term that denotes a group of disorders. These disorders manifest as significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of basic ‘academic skills’ — Skills of reading, reading comprehension, writing, spelling, arithmetic or language
These Academic skills or scholastic skills are used by the brain for the Learning Processes; thus learning disorders are due to dysfunction in the child’s brain — the central nervous system. Children with LD have this brain dysfunction in spite of normal or above normal intelligence.
Any simple difficulty in learning should not bereferred to as Learning Disorders; it is a specific term pointing to inadequate functioning of specific brain areas dealing with specific academic skills.Learning Disorders are different from Mental Retardation (‘Slow learners’).
Children with Learning Disorders show a significant discrepancy between their potential for academic achievement and the real performance on paper. They.as in Vikram’s case.understand what is read out to them, are able to answer orally, .but are unable to put the same into writing.Teachers and parents are often perplexed by this discrepancy between potential and performance.Laws in the UK, USA and other developed countries recognize
Learning Disorders (LD) as Special Educational Needs (SEN). These Acts entitle such children to special Teaching and help in the examinations, in the mainstream inclusive schoOls:In India, the Persons with Disabilities
Act, (PWD Act,1985) does not even mention Learning Disorders.
Among the Bright and the Famous
Any article like this includes a long list of famous personalities with learning Disorders, to highlight the fact that every child with LD does have a talent or potential. It is the responsibility of the teachers and the parents to find the talent and nurture it, so that the LD child may use it for fulfillment and a career in future
Thomson Alva Edison was thrown out of several schools in Michigan because he was dyslexic and could not write Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill are all examples of highly successful dyslexic.
Causes of Learning Disorders
it is now clearly understood that learning Disorders are neurological in origin. These brain abnormalities arise from genetic factors, or from environmental causes before, during, or immediately after birth. 85% of the children with Learning Disorders have immediate relatives with the same disorder. Infections or malnutrition ‘ during pregnancy, delayed labour and difficult delivery, illnesses in the newborn, etc. can also give rise to Learning Disorders without any mental retardation.
Learning Disorders are not produced by defective parenting or inefficient teaching, though these can certainly add to the child’s problems.
How do you spot an LD Child?
It is usually the teacher who first suspects that a child may have a ld .The teacher, if she is sensitized can instantly compare a child’s work and behaviour to that of his classmates and easily find a child .With Learning Disorders struggling with Academic Skills.
It is normal for a child in the First one or two classes to struggle with his academic skills of reading, writing,spelling or arithmetic, but after this he should obtain a basic level of competence .. If a child struggles beyond this point, suspect Learning Disorder.The LD child listens and learns quickly. He can answer questions orally, but is unable to write the same correctly This discrepancy between what he knows and what is expressed on paper is the core problem in poor school performance.
The LD child is punished and ridiculed so often that he loses his self esteem and self-confidence. This results in loss of interest and motivation to study or go to school.In matters not connected to reading or writing, the LD child is bright and enthusiastic-as in music or dance, sketching or painting, sports or games, motors or machines!Some of these children may be hyperactive or reckless. Frustration from the inability to perform may manifest as oppositional or defiant behaviour. Some children may become anxious or sad. Learning Disorders may appear first as Conduct problems — cheating in tests, forging marks on the progress card or lying about the exam results. When these happen with young children, look for possible Learning Disorders.
Some Pointers to Learning Disorders
The LD child loathes his studies but enjoys all other activities.He resents reading or writing. His reading and writing ability may be two years below his grade. Reading tires the child easily, and he may prefer being read to. Addiction to TV or Computer is an easy escape route for him. Teachers may call him ‘stupid’ and parents brand him ‘lazy’.
He reads slowly and hesitantly, sometimes by after the text with his finger. He reads monotonously without intonation, word by word. He may substitute words or letters, or omit words. He may miss lines or read lines again. He fails to comprehend what he reads, but quickly understands when you read out to him.
The dyslexic child is slow to write. The handwriting may be poor, and the pencil grip awkward. Writing may be frustrating, and the child may not complete his notes. For many an LD child, Indian languages seem to be more difficult than English. It is very hard to take a dictation because spellings poses a major problem to the LD child. Reversal of letters in writing ‘b’ for ‘d’, ‘m’ for ‘w’, `p’ for etc. are examples), or using mirror images ( E for 3,6 for 9, etc.) are common errors. The child may spell words as per the sound (‘inuf’ for enough, ‘wol’ for
wall, etc. He omits capitals and punctuations. Even the errors of spelling are inconsistent — the same word may be spelt differently in different places on the same page (see the example below). Word images may be transposed, writing ‘saw’ for ‘was’ and `no’ for ‘on’. This group of children is a harassed lot because spelling mistakes are glaring and stick out like a sore thumb.teachers too place an underserved premium on spellings in written work,often ignoring the content.