Understanding Learning Disabilities in Children: Types, Causes, and Support Strategies

child getting a therapy

Learning disabilities in children can impact their level of success in academics and even other aspects of life. Children with learning disabilities need careful handling to thrive despite their unique personalities and needs.

What are some common learning disabilities and their impact on a child’s life?

The most common learning disabilities are:

1. Dyslexia: Reading disability due to a challenge in identifying speech sounds.

2. Dyscalculia: Problem in grasping mathematical concepts

3. Dysgraphia: Trouble with writing, spelling, etc.

4. Dyspraxia: Problem with coordination skills that interrupt one’s ability to balance, hand-eye movements, etc.

Other than this, conditions like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) also lead to learning problems in children. Children who have learning disabilities are at risk of developing problems like poor self-esteem. They also find it difficult to make friends at school or otherwise. Besides, it is also a challenge for them to match the pace of other students in a regular classroom.

These problems can have a lasting impact on the child’s mental and social life. And if left unattended, these issues can lead to academic backwardness. And eventually, hamper the individual’s overall quality of life. When these children do not get the required assistance that they need, they have a chance to drop out of school. Later in adulthood, such children are likely to suffer because of stress due to underemployment.

Difficulties encountered by learning disabled Children

A beautiful girl with down syndrome playing

Children with learning disabilities might suffer because of their performance issues in school. Many times, such children also find themselves left out and stigmatized because of their learning disabilities.

Learning disorders/disabilities can be identified with a constant impairment in one of the three major areas (writing, reading, and math). But in many cases, there is a possibility that these issues go unnoticed until adulthood. As per the American Psychiatric Association, around 15% of school-going kids struggle with a learning disability. And these can be segregated as mild, moderate, and severe.

Children with these disorders/disabilities need a more customized educational pattern to learn better. For many such students, modern alternatives to school education such as online schools tend to be more useful.

General Causes of Learning Disabilities in Children

1. Genetics: Genetics plays a significant role as it is observed that children whose parents have a learning disability have a high chance of getting the same.

2. Psychological Trauma: According to research, children who have experienced abuse or trauma in their childhood, such as community violence, medical trauma, or physical abuse, are more likely to develop psychological trauma.

3. Illness during and after the birth: The mother becoming ill during pregnancy or problems during birth that prevents enough oxygen from reaching the unborn baby, as well as premature birth or low birth weight, all increase the risk of disability.

Despite the challenging task of supporting children with learning disabilities, it is not impossible to help them thrive. So let’s understand how best we can support these kids!

How to help a child with learning disabilities?

All these problems and learning disabilities need a more structured and planned approach. But the good news is that your support can improve these things with these children. And they can achieve success in the long run.

Parent supporting their child with learning disorders

These simple tips can help your child to combat these challenges.

1. Patience and strategies   

Patience is the key to supporting children with learning disabilities. Positive affirmation, reinforcement strategies, eye contact, and facial expressions can help you to communicate effectively with the child. You can also make use of verbal and non-verbal clues to attract the child’s attention and help him/her focus better.

While dealing with these kids, it is important to stay patient. At times, you might need to repeat things over and over again. So always understand that all these are small steps that will lead to bigger results in the long run. Choose the right ways of interacting with the child. And help him/her in every possible way through your constant motivation. Simple acts of rewarding good behavior, completing work on time, and putting in the effort can help these children to perform better despite their disabilities.

2. Supervision and availability of support

A child with special needs a secure atmosphere to learn better. You can choose an educational institution that offers 100% virtual schooling. Or else, you can enroll the child in a school that has enough facilities for supervision.

Keep the child in the presence of an adult as much as you can. Besides, your presence will also encourage the child to participate more in class or interact with other students. Avoid instances that can make the child feel lonely and uncomfortable. And help your child to follow instructions while attending a class.

3. Follow schedules

While rules are important for all children, these are even more essential for children with special needs. Help a child with learning disabilities understand the importance of following schedules. Create a timetable and align things as per fixed time patterns at home. Get the child into the habit of starting the day, eating, playing, and sleeping on time. Reinforce good behavior with stickers, chocolates, and star charts. Let these habits be a part of your lifestyle. And help the child to know the value of time in leading a productive life.

Children who have learning disabilities tend to follow rules better in school if their parents create a more disciplined environment at home. Try to align these small things in place to help your child make the most of a day.

4. Learn to handle tantrums

As a parent, you must know how to handle the child in cases of tantrums/outbursts/triggers. Learn to handle situations calmly and identify the pain areas that can instigate the child in any case. Calming strategies and the use of distractions can help you to handle temper tantrums. Besides, it is always better to avoid the potential triggers instead of waiting to handle these post occurrences. Always keep the required material handy (sensory toys, fidgety toys pack, etc.). And ensure that the child is safe during the outburst.

Final Thoughts:

Girl with learning disabilities talking and having fun with her father

Handling learning disabilities can be challenging. But at the same time, your handling of these disabilities can have a make-or-break effect on the life of the child. Be a good listener, act with patience, and most importantly have faith in the child’s ability to learn. And never underestimate the power of collaborating with the right institution to help your special child with his/her unique needs. Choose the right educational alternative and team up with your child’s educators to gauge his/her learning progress. Besides, a little more professional help like activities, extra classes, etc. can also help your child to accomplish his/her goals.

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