There are many children and adolescents that have learning disorders. Their challenges may impact their ability with language processing, reading, writing, and math. Learning disabilities is another term that is synonymous with learning disorders. According to the National Center of Learning Disabilities “LD is more than a difference or difficulty with learning-it’s a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information.”
Many students with receptive (listening comprehension) and expressive (oral) language disorders are also diagnosed with a co-occuring language based learning disability in the school setting. Why? A child’s ability to listen, comprehend, and explain information directly relates to their ability to read and write. Literacy skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are all interrelated skills.
In the area of reading, a child may have difficulty decoding or sounding out words, reading fluently, and/or understanding what they read. This contributes to a child reading below grade level in elementary, middle, high school, and beyond. Therefore, it is critical that children with reading disorders are identified quickly and receive intensive intervention from a reading specialist or special education teacher. Dyslexia is a term used frequently by professionals to describe students with reading disorders. However, not all children with reading difficulties have dyslexia.
In the area of math, students who struggle with reading will have difficulty understanding and solving math word problems and other reasoning tasks. A child may also have dyscalculia or difficulty learning math concepts. A child may struggle with recognizing numbers and symbols, learning and remembering math facts, or difficulty coming up with a plan to solve math word problems. The NCLD gives a more in depth description of dyscalculia here: http://ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/understanding-dyscalculia?start=1#FOUR
The National Center for Learning Disability provides a great breakdown of the differences between dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia (written expression difficulties).
Here are some warning signs for dysgraphia courtesy of NCLD:
Just having bad handwriting doesn’t mean a person has dysgraphia. This is a processing disorder that may change throughout a person’s lifetime. Writing is a developmental process. Children learn the motor skills necessary to write while they learn the thinking and expressive language skills to communicate their ideas on paper.
Dygraphia: Warning Signs by Age
- Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position
- Avoiding writing or drawing tasks
- Trouble forming letter shapes
- Inconsistent spacing between letters or words
- Poor understanding of uppercase and lowercase letters
- Inability to write or draw in a line or within margins
- Tiring quickly while writing
- Illegible handwriting
- Mixture of cursive and print writing
- Saying words out loud while writing
- Concentrating so hard on writing that comprehension of what’s written is missed
- Trouble thinking of words to write
- Omitting or not finishing words in sentences
Teenagers and Adults
- Trouble organizing thoughts on paper
- Trouble keeping track of thoughts already written down
- Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
- Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech
Although this blog is geared towards pediatric communication and learning disorders, it is important to know that some adults continue to demonstrate characteristics of learning disorders. However, they can lead successful lives once they learn strategies to overcome their difficulties.