Learning Strengths In The Midst Of Learning Disabilities

The more we discover about learning disabilities in children, the more we know they don't have to limit children at all. Simply stated, learning disabilities are troubles children might have with skills such as listening reading, writing, spelling or speaking. These skill impairments have little to do with a child's intelligence - in fact, most learning- disabled children have normal or higher intelligence, and some who are gifted.

The following information lists five major types of learning disabilities, and what parents can do to help. Children can begin to show signs of these disabilities during preschool, early grades and throughout their academic careers - so be sure to watch children for the warning signs below.

Language Disabilities
Signs include a child: asking for repeated information; misunderstanding directions, having trouble remembering and following directions; having trouble expressing himself or herself; and using incorrect grammar beyond an appropriate age (such as saying "I don't got none" for "l don't have any" by school age). Parents can help improve language skills by reading to children everyday. In addition, trips that expose them to language through conversations, such as to museums and zoos, are excellent vocabulary builders.

Speech Disabilities
These include slurred speech, stuttering and lisping which can all affect a child's ability to communicate by making them hesitant to speak because of embarrassment. Children may also be embarrassed by hoarseness of voice or monotone, which can be caused for many reasons. For all these speech disabilities, a parent can repeat back the correct way to pronounce words through normal and frequent conversation.

Reading Disabilities and Dyslexia
Children who show little interest in reading and the reading portions of educational television may have a reading disability. Reading difficulty can be caused by a variety of factors, so a reading evaluation is necessary to determine exactly what causes the trouble. Parents can help develop a child's reading skills by reading along and pointing at each word to match the words up with sounds.

Writing Disabilities
Writing disabilities may be caused by underdeveloped muscles in the hands or trouble with the combination of senses used to write. Arts and crafts, as well as hand-eye games such as jump rope and marbles, are excellent ways to develop the skills required for writing.

Math Disabilities
Any problems with math, such as poor grades or general frustration, may signal a math disability. Parents can point out the math in every day situations, such as setting the table and making change. In each case, it helps to provide a visual symbol along with the number to increase comprehension (such as two cups + three cups = five cups).

In most cases, whatever the disability may be, both children and parents must remember that there is nothing wrong with the child or the child's intelligence. Just like learning a new position in baseball or learning a new piece on the piano, families must approach these challenges as new obstacles to overcome.

If you suspect any of these disabilities in a child, consult your doctor and the child's teachers.

Reprinted from Triaminic Parents Club, winter 1996

Since I work at an alternative junior high school, I see a greater percentage of students in these situations. This article explained the five major disablities as well as outlined how teachers or parents can help accommodate out learners through these difficulties. I am not saying that these are the exact reasons why a student may not perform at his or her potential, but these can grear us in a direction, give some sort of clue to what may be going on. From here we can began to look more in depth to find out the problem and find a solution.

By: Christia Cave