About Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are present in at least 10 percent of the
population. By following the links on this page you will
discover many interesting facts about learning
disabilities as well as uncover some of the myths. You
will also be provided with practical solutions to help
children and adolescents with learning disabilities
greatly improve their academic achievement as well as
What is a learning disability?
Interestingly, there is no clear and widely accepted
definition of "learning disabilities." Because of the
multidisciplinary nature of the field, there is ongoing
debate on the issue of definition, and there are
currently at least 12 definitions that appear in the
professional literature. These disparate definitions do
agree on certain factors:
- The learning disabled have difficulties with
academic achievement and progress. Discrepancies
exist between a person's potential for learning and
what he actually learns.
- The learning disabled show an uneven pattern of
development (language development, physical
development, academic development and/or perceptual
- Learning problems are not due to environmental
- Learning problems are not due to mental
retardation or emotional disturbance.
How prevalent are learning disabilities?
Experts estimate that 6 to 10 percent of the
school-aged population in the United States is learning
disabled. Nearly 40 percent of the children enrolled in
the nation's special education classes suffer from a
learning disability. The Foundation for Children With
Learning Disabilities estimates that there are 6 million
adults with learning disabilities as well.
What causes learning disabilities?
Little is currently known about the causes of
learning disabilities. However, some general
observations can be made:
- Some children develop and mature at a slower
rate than others in the same age group. As a result,
they may not be able to do the expected school work.
This kind of learning disability is called
- Some children with normal vision and hearing may
misinterpret everyday sights and sounds because of
some unexplained disorder of the nervous system.
- Injuries before birth or in early childhood
probably account for some later learning problems.
- Children born prematurely and children who had
medical problems soon after birth sometimes have
- Learning disabilities tend to run in families,
so some learning disabilities may be inherited.
Learning disabilities are more common in boys than
girls, possibly because boys tend to mature more
- Some learning disabilities appear to be linked
to the irregular spelling, pronunciation, and
structure of the English language. The incidence of
learning disabilities is lower in Spanish or Italian
What are the "early warning signs" of learning
Children with learning disabilities exhibit a wide
range of symptoms. These include problems with reading,
mathematics, comprehension, writing, spoken language, or
reasoning abilities. Hyperactivity, inattention and
perceptual coordination may also be associated with
learning disabilities but are not learning disabilities
themselves. The primary characteristic of a learning
disability is a significant difference between a child's
achievement in some areas and his or her overall
intelligence. Learning disabilities typically affect
five general areas:
- Spoken language: delays, disorders, and
deviations in listening and speaking.
- Written language: difficulties with reading,
writing and spelling.
- Arithmetic: difficulty in performing arithmetic
operations or in understanding basic concepts.
- Reasoning: difficulty in organizing and
- Memory: difficulty in remembering information
Among the symptoms commonly related to learning
- poor performance on group tests
- difficulty discriminating size, shape, color
- difficulty with temporal (time) concepts
- distorted concept of body image
- reversals in writing and reading
- general awkwardness
- poor visual-motor coordination
- difficulty copying accurately from a model
- slowness in completing work
- poor organizational skills
- easily confused by instructions
- difficulty with abstract reasoning and/or
- disorganized thinking
- often obsesses on one topic or idea
- poor short-term or long-term memory
- impulsive behavior; lack of reflective thought
prior to action
- low tolerance for frustration
- excessive movement during sleep
- poor peer relationships
- overly excitable during group play
- poor social judgment
- inappropriate, unselective, and often excessive
display of affection
- lags in developmental milestones (e.g. motor,
- behavior often inappropriate for situation
- failure to see consequences for his actions
- overly gullible; easily led by peers
- excessive variation in mood and responsiveness
- poor adjustment to environmental changes
- overly distractible; difficulty concentrating
- difficulty making decisions
- lack of hand preference or mixed dominance
- difficulty with tasks requiring sequencing
When considering these symptoms, it is important to
remain mindful of the following:
- No one will have all these symptoms.
- Among LD populations, some symptoms are more
common than others.
- All people have at least two or three of these
problems to some degree.
- The number of symptoms seen in a particular
child does not give an indication as whether the
disability is mild or severe. It is important to
consider if the behaviors are chronic and appear in
Some of these symptoms may indicate dyslexia. For
more information go to About
Some of these symptoms may indicate attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder. For more information go to
What should a parent do if it is suspected that a
child has a learning disability?
The parent should contact the child's school and
arrange for testing and evaluation. Federal law requires
that public school districts provide special education
and related services to children who need them. If these
tests indicate that the child requires special
educational services, the school evaluation team
(planning and placement team) will meet to develop an
individual educational plan (IEP) geared to the child's
needs. The IEP describes in detail an educational plan
designed to remediate and compensate for the child's
Simultaneously, the parent should take the child to the
family pediatrician for a complete physical examination.
The child should be examined for correctable problems
(e.g. poor vision or hearing loss) that may cause
difficulty in school.
How does a learning disability affect the parents of
Research indicates that parental reaction to the
diagnosis of learning disability is more pronounced than
in any other area of exceptionality. Consider: if a
child is severely retarded or physically handicapped,
the parent becomes aware of the problem in the first few
weeks of the child's life. However, the pre-school
development of the learning disabled child is often
uneventful and the parent does not suspect that a
problem exists. When informed of the problem by
elementary school personnel, a parent's first reaction
is generally to deny the existence of a disability. This
denial is, of course, unproductive. The father tends to
remain in this stage for a prolonged period because he
is not exposed to the child's day-to-day frustrations
Research conducted by Eleanor Whitehead suggests that
the parent of an LD child goes through a series of
emotions before truly accepting the child and his
problem. These "stages" are totally unpredictable. A
parent may move from stage-to-stage in random. Some
parents skip over stages while others remain in one
stage for an extended period. These stages are as
DENIAL: "There is really nothing wrong!" "That's the way
I was as a child--not to worry!" "He'll grow out of it!"
BLAME: "You baby him!" "You expect too much of him."
"It's not from my side of the family."
FEAR: "Maybe they're not telling me the real problem!"
"Is it worse than they say?" "Will he ever marry? go to
ENVY: "Why can't he be like his sister or his cousins?"
MOURNING: "He could have been such a success, if not for
the learning disability!"
BARGAINING: "Wait 'till next year!" "Maybe the problem
will improve if we move! (or he goes to camp, etc.)."
ANGER: "The teachers don't know anything." "I hate this
neighborhood, this school...this teacher."
GUILT: "My mother was right; I should have used cloth
diapers when he was a baby." "I shouldn't have worked
during his first year." "I am being punished for
something and my child is suffering as a result."
ISOLATION: "Nobody else knows or cares about my child."
"You and I against the world. No one else understands."
FLIGHT: "Let's try this new therapy--Donahue says it
works!" "We are going to go from clinic to clinic until
somebody tells me what I want to hear.!"
Again, the pattern of these reactions is totally
unpredictable. This situation is worsened by the fact
that frequently the mother and father may be involved in
different and conflicting stages at the same time (e.g.,
blame vs. denial; anger vs. guilt). This can make
communication very difficult.
The good news is that with proper help, most LD children
can make excellent progress. There are many successful
adults such as attorneys, business executives,
physicians, teachers, etc. who had learning disabilities
but overcame them and became successful. Now with
special education and many special materials, LD
children can be helped early.
Pointers for parents of children with learning
- Take the time to listen to your children as much
as you can (really try to get their "Message").
- Love them by touching them, hugging them,
tickling them, wrestling with them (they need lots
of physical contact).
- Look for and encourage their strengths,
interests, and abilities. Help them to use these as
compensations for any limitations or disabilities.
- Reward them with praise, good words, smiles, and
pat on the back as often as you can.
- Accept them for what they are and for their
human potential for growth and development. Be
realistic in your expectations and demands.
- Involve them in establishing rules and
regulations, schedules, and family activities.
- Tell them when they misbehave and explain how
you feel about their behavior; then have them
propose other more acceptable ways of behaving.
- Help them to correct their errors and mistakes
by showing or demonstrating what they should do.
- Don't nag!
- Give them reasonable chores and a regular family
work responsibility whenever possible.
- Give them an allowance as early as possible and
then help them plan to spend within it.
- Provide toys, games, motor activities and
opportunities that will stimulate them in their
- Read enjoyable stories to them and with them.
Encourage them to ask questions, discuss stories,
tell the story, and to reread stories.
- Further their ability to concentrate by reducing
distracting aspects of their environment as much as
possible (provide them with a place to work, study
- Don't get hung up on traditional school grades!
It is important that they progress at their own
rates and be rewarded for doing so.
- Take them to libraries and encourage them to
select and check out books of interest.
- Have them share their books with you.
- Provide stimulating books and reading material
around the house.
- Help them to develop self-esteem and to compete
with self rather than with others.
- Insist that they cooperate socially by playing,
helping, and serving others in the family and the
- Serve as a model to them by reading and
discussing material of personal interest. Share with
them some of the things you are reading and doing.
- Don't hesitate to consult with teachers or other
specialists whenever you feel it to be necessary in
order to better understand what might be done to
help your child learn.
Parents Can Help Children With Learning Disabilities
When a child is diagnosed with a learning disability parents may
start to worry and feel overwhelmed. They should rest assured, though,
that their child can learn and has great potential to do so. The first
thing a parent can do to help the child is to become on expert on his or
her particular disability. Speak to the child's physician and scour
trusted internet sources to learn more about the child's disability.
Parents should also take their child's education into their own
hands. Work closely with the child's school to make sure that the child
is getting the best education possible. Speak to the school
administrators and ask about any special programs, such as before or
after school tutoring, that are offered to children with special needs.
Take advantage of these programs. Also, keep in constant contact with
the child's teacher and ask for regular progress reports. Schools and
teachers are usually happy to help children with special needs and their
Parents can help their children learn by teaching them in practical
ways at home. Spend time reading and writing together. Teach math skills
when cooking from a recipe and using certain measurements or when
shopping and dealing with money. Provide the child with a quiet and
stress free area to work in as they do homework. Give the child
emotional support if he or she starts to lose faith in his or her
ability to learn or gets frustrated. Check over their homework and give
them loving reassurance and support. A child who is shown such loving
attention will be grateful to his or her parents for years to come.
Teachers Can Help Children With Special Needs
Teachers likely see many children with learning disabilities pass
through their classrooms. There are many ways that teachers can help
these kids succeed. Teachers can tailor their teaching methods to the
needs of students with learning disabilities. For example, they can give
tests orally to those who have trouble reading. They can also try to
avoid complicated wording when giving tests orally. Teachers can try to
verbalize instructions that have been written on the chalk board or
Teachers may want to make a second set of textbooks available to
parents of children with special needs. If the child forgets his or her
books at school he or she will have another copy at home. Teachers can
also communicate assignments instructions to parents so that they can
work with the child at home.
Most importantly, teachers should remain positive when working with
special needs children. They should be encouraging and patient. Always
try to make sure that the child understands what they are supposed to.
This may take time and more then extra effort, but it is well worth it.
Every child deserves a good education. Children with learning
disabilities need special attention. Parents and teachers are the best
people to offer this kind of support.
Professional Help is required for children with Disabilities. Special Educators are the ones who provide complete help to LD children. Please click the link below to know more
Please check the attachment below