Learning Difficulties – About
Particularly important is that a Learning Difficulty is not the same as Learning Disability. The term learning difficulty is used for those individuals who have ‘specific learning difficulties’, such as dyslexia, but who do not have a significant general impairment of intelligence. Learning difficulties are not a sign of a lack of intelligence or laziness, they are a result of the child or young person’s mind being wired differently, a neurological processing problem.
These processing problems can affect the way a child sees, hears, moves and how they interpret the world around them. So subjects at school like maths, writing and reading can be a challenge, but also personal functioning skills such as organization, time keeping, memory and attention.
The main types of learning disability or disorder are:
Dyslexia (problems with reading)
Problems are evident with basic reading or with a comprehension of what has been read.
A child can have problems with one or more of the following:
- Recognizing letters and words, and the order they are in
- Understanding the meaning or context of what is written
- Ability to read, in their head or out loud
- General vocabulary and spelling
Dyscalculia (problems with maths)
Children with dyscalculia have difficulty with understanding numbers and maths, and it can go hand in hand with other language or visual disorders.
Some examples are:
- Counting and sequencing
- Memorising numbers
- Organising numbers
- Telling time
Dysgraphia (problems with writing)
This is a problem that affects the child’s handwriting abilities as well as their ability to put thoughts down on paper.
Problems such as:
- Untidy or disjointed writing
- Spelling or copying problems
- Lack of coherence in writing ideas
Dyspraxia (problems with motor skills)
This is where there are problems with motor skills, where the brain doesn’t communicate in the usual way with the limbs, hands and feet. This is not always considered a learning disability as such, but it affects learning by causing physical problems such as writing, using tools, walking or jumping as well as speech.
Asphasia / Disphasia (problems with language and communication)
This disability can be congenital or happen as a result of some kind of trauma. It affects language and communication, for example the child may exhibit difficulties in understanding words, or with expressing themselves verbally.
Visual Processing Disorder
Our eyes send crucial messages to the brain in order for us to react and process information, but if this process doesn’t work as it should, then it can have a multitude of affects. A visual processing disorder can cause problems with eye-hand co-ordination, reading, writing skills, as well as understanding what is actually being seen, maybe its shape or how far away it is.
Auditory Processing Disorder
As with our eyes, our ears also provide one of our critical senses. People with this disorder experience sound differently. They may have an inability to locate where a sound is coming from, or their perception of the sound is different – it may sound too fast for them to pick out words for example. They may also find background noises are at the same volume level as someone speaking right next to them. All of these will have an impact on their ability to learn in a conventional environment.