The term “learning disability” is an umbrella term for any learning challenge in a specified area, such as reading, writing, or math. Learning disabilities are lifelong disorders that can range from mild to severe. While they often become apparent when children begin school, they can often go undiagnosed and affect adults throughout their lives. Individuals with learning disabilities may even go through their lives without ever receiving a formal assessment, and thus never understanding why they may have difficulties with academics or problems with their jobs or relationships.
While a learning disability cannot be cured, a diagnosis and understanding of the disorder will provide access to support and intervention. There are five common forms of learning disabilities, including:
Dyslexia is a learning disability that refers to a pattern of learning difficulties characterized by problems with accurate or fluent word recognition, poor decoding, and poor spelling abilities. Children who struggle with dyslexia often have difficulties reading and often find both reading and reading aloud to be very labour intensive. Dyslexia also makes spelling challenging, as well as pronouncing and spelling words.
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, however, can often go undiagnosed. Commonly, children with dyslexia find it difficult to learn new words, guess words based on their description, identify rhyming words, remember the order of a story, and make a lot of spelling errors. Both children and adults will often try to avoid tasks that involve reading.
People with Dyscalculia struggle to perform math functions or complete any task that involves math at any level. While this can make learning math difficult, it can also make everyday tasks more challenging. Much of our daily lives involve some form of math, such as cooking, paying for things, or getting to places on time. Dyscalculia makes all of these tasks difficult.
Both children and adults with dyscalculia often struggle with memorization and organization of numbers, understanding operation signs, and number facts, such as 5+5=10. They may also struggle with general counting and counting principles, such as counting by twos or counting by fives, or find it challenging to tell the time.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that makes it challenging for a person to write. Their writing may often be difficult or even impossible to read. Both children and adults with dysgraphia will struggle to hold a pen or pencil comfortably, and others may lack the spatial awareness required to write legible text.
Commonly, people with dysgraphia will take a long time to write and may struggle to express themselves by using clear sentence structure. People may speak aloud when writing, will often have messy handwriting, and poor grammar.
A motor disability is often referred to as an “output” activity, as it relates to the output of information from the brain. Dyspraxia is a disability that refers to problems with output activities that require motor skills, such as writing, cutting, running, or jumping. The brain struggles to communicate with the necessary limbs required to complete the action.
Children and adults with dyspraxia commonly have problems with physical actions, such as holding a pencil, cutting their food with a fork and knife, buttoning a shirt, dancing, or activities that involve balance or hand-eye coordination.
While dyspraxia does not affect a person’s intelligence, it can make learning and socializing more difficult. People with dyspraxia may have short attention spans for difficult tasks, difficulty following instructions, lack of organizational skills, immature behaviour or low self-esteem.
I SUSPECT MY CHILD HAS A LEARNING DISABILITY – WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Not being able to perform academically at the same level as your peers can have a detrimental effect on one’s self-image and self esteem. There are a multitude of services and supports to help both children and adults with learning disabilities. Obtaining a diagnosis is the first step towards ensuring your child has the support they need in school, which will help them to succeed academically and will have a positive effect on their self-esteem and overall well-being.
If you believe your child needs support, a psychoeducational assessment may be beneficial. A typical assessment involves an intelligence test, achievement test, measures of memory, attention, and executive functioning, as well as adaptive functioning tests. A thorough report is provided within two to three weeks of completion of testing, the results of which will allow your child to access the support and services available to them in school and their community.
Our team at Sharon Blott Psychological Services specializes in comprehensive learning disability assessments for a flat rate of $2000. We pride ourselves in helping families find success in life by identifying individual barriers and working to remove them. Get in touch to book your initial consultation today!