Learning Disability

Sometimes students enter college already having been diagnosed with a learning disability, while other students may wonder if they have a learning disability once they begin their post-secondary education. If not previously diagnosed, students can question if they have a learning disability for a variety of reasons, such as:

Poorer performance on tests and assignments than what they feel they are capable of increased frustration with the learning process

The need to exert an inordinate amount of “effort” for basic academic tasks related to reading and writing comments from faculty or fellow students that their performance is inconsistent e.g. answers questions well in class but cannot put those ideas on paper either for tests or for assignments

Learning disabilities cannot be cured, and for parents, it can be a difficult and stressful time trying to help their child through education, and making sure they receive the best support possible for their needs. It is important to also focus on the long-term and bigger picture. Explaining the child’s condition to friends, family, and anyone affected can be difficult, but is essential in helping manage the situation.

Making sure the child eats well, sleeps well and gets regular exercise will help them to focus, and teaches them good habits for life.

Talking to the child’s school and GP are the first ports of call, after which the child may be referred to a Child Development Team which includes nurses, psychologists and speech therapists to decide on the best course of action. This may mean the child having additional support at their current school, or moving to a school more suited to their needs.

Learning Assistance for Slow Learners

It’s important to help slow learners find the right pace so they can excel

Not every child learns the same way or at the same pace. Not every child excels in the same areas; some are better readers while others are fascinated with numbers. Does this make one child smarter than another? Definitely not!

There are, however, instances in which some children are slower to mature and develop both fine and gross motor skills and comprehension and retention skills. Often times these children are labeled ‘slow learners’.

Personally, I despise this term. To label children as anything at all is deplorable, but to label them as ‘slow’ is demeaning and degrading–not to mention telling them they are not as good as others.

But nevertheless, there are children who do need extra help and who do need specialised teaching to allow them to learn and grow. Does this make them a slow learner? Maybe, but remember–if you tell someone they are something long enough and loud enough they will become just that.

Telling your child he needs extra attention

One of the most difficult tasks of parents and educators is to determine if a child is learning more slowly because they cannot keep up with others or because they choose not to keep up with others.

Children who are labeled ‘slow learners’ are those that:

  • Reach normal infant and toddler milestones later than the average child on a consistent basis. These milestones include crawling, walking, speech and vocabulary and motor skills such as clapping, hopping, skipping, recognising eyes, ears, etc.
  • Have trouble concentrating–all children have limited attention spans. but those who have trouble concentrating for more than two or three minutes at a time and are unable to recall what they did in that time and/or repeat what they did without instruction or prompting later on, will likely be in need of specialised attention and be labeled ‘slow learners’.
  • Struggles with the simplest of concepts and has difficulty retaining what they learn. This is a true indicator of a child with a learning disability. But rather than focusing on the disability, focus on finding how to work with the disability to make it less of an issue.
  • Is socially immature or reclusive. Children who are labeled ‘slow learners’ will a) notice the fact that they are ‘slow’ or learning at a different pace or b) be singled out by the teacher and/or their peers as being ‘slow’. This is embarrassing, humiliating and demeaning to a child. Their self-esteem and confidence levels suffer tremendously and they withdraw in an effort to shield themselves from the pain–holding it inside themselves.

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