Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) are a group of disorders that pose as the biggest challenge in the path of academic achievement for a child. The most common academic difficulties faced by children diagnosed with SLD are reading slowly and incorrectly, skipping lines while reading aloud, making repeated spelling mistakes, untidy/illegible hand-writing with poor sequencing, and inability to perform even simple mathematics. They invariably fail to achieve school grades at a level that is matching with their intellectual abilities. The following checklist lists some common red flags for learning disorders:

Signs and symptoms of learning disabilities: Preschool age

  • Problems pronouncing wordsmith
  • Trouble finding the right word
  • Difficulty rhyming
  • Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, days of the week
  • Difficulty following directions or learning routines
  • Difficulty controlling crayons, pencils, and scissors, or coloring within the lines
  • Trouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, learning to tie shoes

Signs and symptoms of learning disabilities: Ages 5-9

  • Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
  • Unable to blend sounds to make words
  • Confuses basic words when reading
  • Slow to learn new skills
  • Consistently misspells words and makes frequent errors
  • Trouble learning basic math concepts
  • Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences

Signs and symptoms of learning disabilities: Ages 10-13

  • Difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills
  • Trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems
  • Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud
  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized)
  • Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud
  • Spells the same word differently in a single document

Common types of learning disabilities may be presented as follows:

  • Dyslexia – Difficulty with reading; Problems reading, writing, spelling, speaking
  • Dyscalculia – Difficulty with math; Problems doing math problems, understanding time, using money
  • Dysgraphia – Difficulty with writing; Problems with handwriting, spelling, organizing ideas
  • Dyspraxia (Sensory Integration Disorder) – Difficulty with fine motor skills; Problems with hand-eye coordination, balance, manual dexterity
  • Dysphasia/Aphasia – Difficulty with language; Problems understanding spoken language, poor reading comprehension's
  • Auditory Processing Disorder – Difficulty hearing differences between sounds; Problems with reading, comprehension, language
  • Visual Processing Disorder – Difficulty interpreting visual information; Problems with reading, math, maps, charts, symbols, pictures.

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. For example, repetition and mnemonic devices might make it easier to memorize a math formula, and drawing a picture to illustrate a word problem might help a child visualize what is being asked. Treatment for specific learning disorder often also involves multimodal teaching. If a child has trouble comprehending a subject with his or her eyes and ears alone, other senses such as touch, taste, and even smell can play a role in the learning process. Similarly, learning to convert one sort of problem into another format may help (e.g. changing a traditional math problem into a word problem). A learning specialist can help determine the services or accommodations a child might benefit from at school. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy in particular, may also be helpful in treating the emotional and behavioral problems that can accompany specific learning disorder.


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