Specific Learning Difficulties

Specific Learning difficulties-min

Many children with average intelligence experience difficulties in school, despite their best effort to master school tasks. There is a reason for that, and the one common reason is Specific Learning Difficulties.

What is Specific Learning Difficulties or SLD?

According to DSM-5, SLD is a “neurodevelopmental disorder that impedes the ability to learn or use specific academic skills (e.g., reading, writing, or arithmetic), which are the foundation for other academic learning.” It is believed that SLD is caused by a difficulty in the nervous system that affects receiving, processing or communicating information. Some children are also hyperactive making it harder to sit still. It is also believed that SLD usually runs in families.

What are the signals of Specific Learning disorder?

  • Fails to master reading, spelling, writing, and/or math skills, and thus fails
  • Quickly loses or misplaces homework, schoolbooks, or other items
  • Difficulty understanding the concept of time; is confused by “yesterday, today, tomorrow
  • Trouble telling right from left
  • Reversing letters, words, or numbers, after first or second grade
  • Difficulties recognizing patterns or sorting items by size or shape
  • Difficulty understanding and following instructions or staying organized
  • Trouble remembering what was just said or what was just read
  • Lacking coordination when moving around or doing sports
  • Difficulty doing tasks with the hands, like tying shoelaces, writing, cutting or drawing

Examples of Specific Learning Difficulties include:

  • Dyslexia

International Dyslexia Association offers the following definition of dyslexia:

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected concerning other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

  • Dyscalculia

DSM-5 defines Dyscalculia as a specific learning disorder, an impediment in mathematics, evidencing problems with:

  • Number sense
  • Memorization of arithmetic facts
  • Accurate and fluent calculation
  • Accurate math reasoning.
  • Dysgraphia

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting, and trouble putting thoughts on paper.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

According to Mayo Clinic, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.

  • Processing deficits

According to LDOnline, Processing deficits are problems with the processes of recognizing and interpreting information taken in through the senses. The two most common areas of processing difficulty associated with learning disabilities are visual and auditory perception.

What should you do if you suspect your child has specific Learning difficulties?

Your first step is to understand your child’s learning difficulties and how it is affecting him/her. If your child continuously struggles and progresses very slowly, then It is time to have a diagnostic test done. A comprehensive evaluation of their communication, self-help skills, willingness to accept discipline, impact on play, and capacity for independence at an early stage is critical. Do not wait until your child fails before you take action.

Who can diagnose a Specific Learning Difficulty?

A licensed clinician must undertake the diagnosis process. The diagnosis might involve a psychologist identifying specific learning disorders, an occupational therapist when considering developmental coordination, and a speech pathologist when looking at difficulties related to a developmental language disorder or apraxia of speech. Therefore, there is a range of standardized assessment tools required to make a clinical diagnosis. A diagnosis is made through a combination of observation, interviews, family history, and school reports. Mind Institute has a multidisciplinary team of clinicians to carry out these tests and evaluations which include:

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)

Dyslexia Screening Test – Junior (DST – J)6:06 years to 11:05 years

Dyslexia Screening Test – Senior ( DST – S) 11:06 – 16:05 years

Mullen Scales of Early Learning

SCHOODLES – School Fine Motor Assessment– 4th Edition

DLS (Derbyshire Language Scale)

NPD (Nuffield Dyspraxia Programme)

Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V) Nanci Bell

What should you do next?

If your child is diagnosed with Specific Learning Difficulties, having an Intervention Program is the best thing you could do for your child. Mind institute’s Intervention program includes a range of options that can ultimately address different areas of concern. Your first step would be to open communication with your child’s school and teacher. Mind institute can do that on your behalf as we have many lines of communication with most schools in Qatar. Our therapist can conduct a school observation visit, which would allow us to see firsthand the type of assistance your child needs. Recommendations could be simple steps that teachers can implement immediately in the classroom that would help your child or go as far as creating an Intervention Program targeting your child’s specific areas of weakness. It is imperative that any Intervention Program be delivered explicitly over an extended period of time to ensure that real progress can be achieved. If your child’s school does not have the resources to provide such assistance, Mind Institutes can give you a range of options, Including a shadow. Your child’s intervention program can also include a range of recommendations, including Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Applied Behavior Therapy, and Special Education.

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