WHAT’S A LEARNING DISORDER?
Today, boys & girls, I want to discuss what a learning disorder (LD) is.
If your kid doesn’t do well in school; if he can’t focus on a task; if he is always tapping his fingers or pencil; if he continually talks to other students in class during work time; if he never seems to be able to complete his homework; if he fails pretty much every test he takes, he may not be a Bad Kid. He may actually have a learning disorder.
LD is an umbrella term that can encompass many types of learning problems. It has NOTHING to do with INTELLIGENCE or MOTIVATION. In other words, if your child has a true LD there is no amount of punishment that will motivate him to “do better”. Taking away all his video games and all extra curricular activities just for the sake of punishment will not help.
An LD is not just about reading or numbers. It can also cause problems with reasoning and speaking. Your son could be looking right at you when you’re explaining something to him but he can’t grasp what you’re saying. Not because he isn’t paying attention but because his brain is different from yours. A kid with an LD might love to read but can’t do simple math. He might grasp the entire periodic table and know how each element interacts with the other but cannot understand what you mean when you say, “You need to finish up before dinner time.”
WHAT A LEARNING DISORDER IS NOT
I can remember times in elementary school where I just couldn’t get what I was being taught. 5th grade science was the worst. I just didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t be bothered to study it so needless to say, I didn’t score so well on the exams. But it wasn’t because I had a processing disorder or an LD. I just really hated science. A learning disorder is totally different. A kid with an LD isn’t dumb or lazy. They are wired differently which means they don’t take in information the same way as kids without an LD. You can’t be expected to follow a recipe if it’s written in Swahili (and you only know English) so how can you expect for your child with an LD to learn how to add or spell or to tell the difference between stratus clouds and cirrus clouds if you’re trying to teach him the same way kids without LD’s are taught?
YOU GIVE IT A TRY
Let’s try a little experiment, shall we? Think of something you enjoy. It can be anything. Are you great at cooking? Math? Gardening? Super. Now go to a foreign country and sign up for a class in their language and see how well you do. My guess is, not that great. How do you think it would be, to sit in a classroom with someone speaking at you in a foreign language & where everyone else in the class is getting it? Would you be anxious, trying to pick up on what they’re doing, what page they’re on, what they’re writing and reading? Would you be bored, not being able to understand the words that are coming out of the instructor’s mouth, so you start daydreaming or gazing out the window? Would you be irritated, trying to figure out what the hell is going on, your fellow students getting obviously annoyed that you keep looking over their shoulders or asking questions?
And that’s in a class that’s on a topic that you ENJOY.
Imagine how it might be for a kid who deals with these emotions on a daily basis, in a place they have come to hate and feel uncomfortable in because it’s all a foreign language; a place where they have become hated because they don’t follow along easily or are disruptive in a class that teaches them nothing.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF IT’S A LEARNING DISORDER?
OK, so you’re not sure if your kid has a learning disorder. Here are some signs at different ages that may clear it up for you: (the following chart was found at Helpguide.org)
Preschool signs and symptoms of learning disabilities
§ Problems pronouncing words
§ 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
Grades K-4 signs and symptoms of learning disabilities
§ Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
§ Unable to blend sounds to make words
§ Confuses basic words when reading
§ Consistently misspells words and makes frequent reading errors
§ Trouble learning basic math concepts
§ Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences
§ Slow to learn new skills
Grades 5-8 signs and symptoms of learning disabilities
§ Difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills
§ Trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems
§ Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud
§ Spells the same word differently in a single document
§ Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized)
§ Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud
§ Poor handwriting
If you think your kid has a learning disorder, please get help for him NOW. It’s important to note that people with LD’s are usually just as smart as anyone without an LD. Don’t let your personal feelings on what it will mean to YOU if your son or daughter is diagnosed with a learning disorder. Denying that there is a greater issue (like a disability) at hand because you're afraid of how you will look to other people is selfish and wrong. Give your kid a chance to learn and to grow!