Parents suspecting that their child may have some type of learning problem or a learning disability need not be discouraged. Resources are now abundant for helping parents determine specifically the problem their child is having, and exactly how they can intervene.
It is important, however, to make a necessary distinction between learning problems and learning disabilities. Learning problems relate to poor initial teaching, problem of mother-child separation in the early years of life, emotional tensions, broken homes, abuses of different sorts, and a multitude of other socioeconomic factors.
Learning disabilities, on the other hand, refer directly to perceptual processing deficits which have some sort of neurophysiological base. Though these children do not have problems with their vision, they will have difficulty in translating what they see into an appropriate motor function. While demonstrating no problem with their hearing, they will have problems translating auditory stimuli into socially expected communication systems. The key word to understand these children is "processing." Learning disabled children are unable to correctly process visual and auditory stimuli.
There are five basic characteristics of children with learning disabilities. A child may possess one, two, or several of these. For further clarification, a child’s level of intelligence is unimportant when describing the boundaries of the problem. Children of all intellectual levels (normal, slow-learning, mentally retarded) can possess a learning disability. The degree or severity will differ from child to child.
The first characteristic is hyperactivity, either sensory or motor. Sensory hyperactivity refers to the child responding to unessential or irrelevant stimuli. Movement, smell, color, and sound may easily distract the child from attending to a specific task. Motor hyperactivity, on the other hand, occurs when the child is unable to refrain from responding to stimuli that produce or prompt a motor response. Anything within the bounds of a child’s vision will be touched, bent, twisted, pulled, or turned over.
A second observable characteristic is disassociation, the inability to see things as a whole, as a totality. A child will see part of a picture, but not the whole thing, and therefore does not necessarily see things as forming a meaningful unit.
3) Figure-ground reversal
A third character is figure-ground reversal. For example, when a child reads page in a book, he may see the background more distinctly than he sees the foreground.
Perseveration, the fourth characteristic, is the child’s inability to change from one activity to another with ease. He is unable to move quickly from one mental idea to the next.
5) Poor motor skill.
The last characteristic is poor motor skill, and can be witnessed in a child’s difficulty in learning to ride a bicycle or his inability to maneuver smoothly and accurately through a series of obstacles. He may have a general fear and insecurity about his coordination. Learning to swim may prove quite difficult.
When parents identify one or more of these problems in their child, they have several avenues to pursue. First, they should insist that their school district provide an education evaluation. a general pediatric examination would also be completed at this time, after which parents would be wise to pursue the following diagnostic services: ophthalmological clinical psychological examination, pediatric neurological examination, pediatric psychiatric examination, social history questionnaire, speech and hearing examination, and a psychological evaluation. The list is staggering. But each test is important and has a specific purpose. Accurate diagnosis is critical. When a child’s learning disability is clearly identified, the parents, child, and school will know how to specifically intervene and assist.
Though learning problems and learning disabilities have been defined as two separate spheres, parents of a learning disabled child should still be keenly attuned to their child’s self-esteem. Because the child has continually met with frustrations, failure, and/or negative feedback from adults, he may demonstrate various types of behavioral problems (i.e., rebellious attitude, lack of attention, apathy, fighting, depression, etc.). Parents’ emotional support and understanding is crucial.
Often due to the problems this type of child encounters, it is difficult for him to be included in a regular group or classroom. Thus, parents need to be strongly advised and encouraged to seek out the proper diagnostic help and educational assistance available to their child.
Children with learning disabilities need not feel that they have little hope for a normal, productive school career and adult life. In fact, they have every reason to have hope.
information : KLab (Kits4Kids Fountation - KLaboratory @ No. 45, Jalan Penaga, Bangsar, Kualu Lumpur, Malaysia)