Learning disorders are often hereditary, and they are the result of a difference in the structure of the brain, which is present at the time of birth. These impact the brain’s processing of information, which is the chief function that takes place in learning.
Learning disorders are of different kinds and they can affect people in different ways. They can affect how a person learns to read, write, speak, hear and calculate. Learning disorders are not reflective of a person’s IQ, or intelligence quotient. Rather, a person with learning disorders experiences difficulties in performing specific skills and in completing certain tasks.
Learning disorders are different from physical or mental disabilities like developmental or intellectual disabilities, blindness or deafness. However, they may occur along with physical or mental disabilities.
Learning disorders in children cannot be diagnosed solely on physical signs such as hearing or vision, or on neurological findings alone. They are deviations from normal development and considered to be disabilities only when they interfere in a significant way with the child’s adaptive functions and school performance.
Learning disorders - signs and symptoms
When there is a delay in the achievement of some developmental milestone, but the child’s development in other aspects is normal, it could be indicative of a learning disorder. These delays may show themselves as language problems, socialization problems or motor delays.
If you suspect your child to be affected by a learning disability, consult your doctor, or an educator, to find out the available options for evaluation. There are professionals who can screen your child for learning disorders, but it is important that a specialist in diagnosing learning disabilities conducts a full evaluation to establish that there is a learning disability.
Types of learning disorders
Learning disorders are of various types which interfere with the child’s ability to learn. Some of these are discussed below:
# Dyslexia: Reading disability affects a child’s reading and is a disability related to language based learning, usually known as dyslexia. For the majority of children with learning disorders who receive special education services, reading is the basic difficulty.
Children with reading disability often cannot recognize words which they know already. They are likely to be poor in spelling, with poor decoding skills. They may also have problems with handwriting and comprehension. 15 to 20% of the US population have language based disabilities, and most of these people have dyslexia.
# Dyscalculia: A learning disorder affecting a child’s disability with math is known as dyscalculia. People affected by dyscalculia find it difficult to understand math concepts and to solve very simple math problems.
# Dysgraphia is a type of learning disability that is related to handwriting. People affected by dysgraphia usually find it difficult to form letters while writing, or they may find it difficult to write within a pre defined space.
# Then there are information processing disorders which affect the way a person uses the information they absorb through their senses such as seeing, tasting, hearing, touching and smelling. These problems do not arise out of an inability to hear or see, but rather they interfere with the way the brain handles, responds, retrieves and stores such sensory information.