The word disability has a negative connotation right from the start. It implies limited capacity and thwarted opportunities for the future. But that doesn't have to be the case with learning disabilities. No matter whom a person is, each and every one has areas of learning that come easier for them than others. Where some display strengths in math, others demonstrate a stronger penchant for English or science.
Unlike the rest of the world who may experience difficulty in one area more than in another, children with learning disabilities get a double dose. The deficits they experience in any area prove more pronounced than the average learner. And to make matters worse, it is not uncommon for the learning disabled to struggle in multiple areas. The most important reason learning disabilities are so disruptive to the life of any child is that the area of their learning problems lay at the heart of those competencies needed to acquire skills in reading, math and writing. The very skills which form the basics needed to serve as a foundation for the student's entire education. When anything interferes in the development of these building blocks to education, learning is compromised, social development suspended, self-esteem damaged, too often leading the student down a road of frustration and failure.
Do not misunderstand; learning disabled children are gifted, bright and highly creative in their individual arenas. But because it may not be academic in nature, their accomplishments often go un-acknowledged and rarely receive the attention they deserve. Consequently, failure takes center stage. Repeated attempts at doing what a child feels they are unable to do no matter how hard they try contributes to a "less than" self-image which puts them at risk of damaging low self-esteem in spite of evidence that they are above average in other areas; an unjust and frustrating conundrum to say the least.
So what's the answer you ask?
The first step as with any problem is to find out exactly what the specific nature of your child's difficulty is. As it relates specifically to learning disabilities, this means parents should investigate and educate themselves along with their children. The parent does well to lead the way in making the family an expert on their child's particular area of struggle.
- Typically, learning disabled children have been shown to struggle in four basic areas that interfere with processing information:
- - attention,
- - visual perception,
- - language processing, or
- - fine motor coordination.
- Before we turn to a more in depth look at each of these areas, it is important for anyone that may suspect their child has a learning disability to understand three things:
- 1. Children with Learning Disabilities frequently experience problems in more than one area.
- 2. Children with Learning Disabilities do not have their area of disability disappear when they leave school. It is with them no matter what situation they are in.
- 3. Children with Learning Disabilities suffer emotional consequences because they deal with repeated failure as they are faced with expectations they cannot meet.
The second step is to obtain a thorough evaluation and appropriate diagnosis by a well-qualified professional and involve your school personnel in the process.