What is a Specific Learning Disability (SLD)?
Learning disabilities, or learning disorders, are an umbrella term for a wide variety of learning problems. A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Kids with learning disabilities aren't lazy or dumb. In fact, most are just as smart as everyone else. Their brains are simply wired differently. This difference affects how they receive and process information.
DSM-5 considers SLD to be a type of Neurodevelopmental Disorder that impedes the ability to learn or use specific academic skills (e.g., reading, writing, or arithmetic), which are the foundation for other academic learning. The learning difficulties are 'unexpected' in that other aspects of development seem to be fine. A child may be assessed as having a specific learning disability when their difficulties are very specific and are not due to other causes, such as their general ability being below average, sight or hearing difficulties, emotional factors or a physical condition. Difficulties can range from mild to severe.
Specific learning disabilities include:
Other types of learning difficulties include:
Signs & Symptoms
Learning disabilities look very different from one child to another. One child may struggle with reading and spelling, while another loves books but can't understand math. Still another child may have difficulty understanding what others are saying or communicating out loud. The problems are very different, but they are all learning disorders. Following is a list of common red flags for learning disorder:
At Preschool age
Between Ages 5-9
Between Ages 10-13
Experts aren't exactly sure what causes learning disabilities. Some possibilities include:
Learning disabilities are NOT caused by economic disadvantage, environmental factors, or cultural differences. In fact, there is frequently no apparent cause for learning disabilities.
Diagnosing a learning disability is a process. It involves detailed history taking, testing, and observation by a Clinical Psychologist.
Is there any treatment for learning disabilities?
Multiple interventions that look at all relevant biological, psychological, and social factors are essential and comprise a general principle of treatment. While there is no cure for specific learning disorder, there are many ways to improve reading, writing, and math skills for a child. Treatment usually includes both strengthening the skills and developing a learning strategy tailored to take advantage of a child's strengths.
Early Identification and Early Intervention is key!
After the assessment period, if your child is determined to have a disability, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is made. This personalized and written education plan
Special Educator: The most common treatment for learning disabilities is special education. The basic approach is to teach learning skills by building on the child's abilities and strengths while correcting and compensating for disabilities and weaknesses.
Occupational therapy can be helpful to children who experience difficulty with motor and fine motor skills.
Speech therapists work with children who have language-based or reading comprehension issues and can help them improve their ability to understand and communicate in social situations
Clinical Psychologist: Psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy in particular, may also be helpful in treating the emotional and behavioral problems that can accompany specific learning disorder.
Some medications may be effective in helping the child learn by enhancing attention and concentration..