Specific learning disability among children: The invisible handicap

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[ Toko Takar ]
Some of the most famous and great people who had learning disorders or disabilities are Albert Einstein, Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Branson, Thomas Alva Edison, and many more. They all had a learning disability/disorder, but they succeeded in their lives.
About 10 percent of the world’s population suffers from learning disability. Some specific learning disabilities (SpLD) are dyslexia, dyscalculia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, and specific language impairment. Somehow, mostly children suffer from ADHD, while 33 to 45 percent suffer from dyslexia (reading and writing problems), and 11 percent from dyscalculia (inability to solve mathematical problems).
In India, the prevalence of specific learning disabilities was 15.17 percent in sampled children, whereas 12.5 percent, 11.2 percent and 10.5 percent had dysgraphia, dyslexia and dyscalculia, respectively. A study suggests that the prevalence of SpLDs is on the higher side of previous estimations in India. Therefore, it is vital for everyone to understand this problem. Here is an elaboration of SpLD:

Definition of learning disabilities
A childhood disorder characterized by difficulty with certain skills, such as reading or writing and understanding lessons in individuals with normal intelligence. Learning disabilities affect the ability to interpret what one sees and hears, or the ability to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways, such as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control, or attention. Such difficulties extend to schoolwork, and can impede learning to read or write, or to do mathematics.
Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions that, in some cases, affect many parts of a child’s life, as in school or work, daily routines, family life, and sometimes even friendships and play. In some people, many overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Other people may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their lives.
A learning disability (LD) is often called a learning problem or brain disorder disease, since this has some traits which have the three main types of learning disabilities: reading disabilities, written language disabilities, and maths disabilities.
Each type of LD can include several different disorders. According to the federal law, an LD is a permanent neurological disorder that may be subtle to severe. It limits the brain’s ability to store, process, and produce information and affects a person’s ability to speak, listen, read, write, or do maths.
While there is no cure for learning disabilities, there are plenty of methods to help your child cope with the disabilities. In fact, many individuals have worked their way along with their disabilities to lead successful and full lives, as mentioned above. Some of the treatments include:
1. Schools that specialize in teaching children with learning disabilities;
2. Expert-led programmes in addition to the school that specifically cater to children with learning disabilities;
3. Special tutoring at home along with therapy in order to keep learning in a comfortable environment;
4. Some learning disabilities such as ADHD, can be relieved with medications; and
5. Special equipment for learning that keeps the specific disability in mind. This includes audiotapes and laptops especially for children who have dyslexia or dysgraphia.

Tips to handle a child with LD
1. Take charge of your child’s education: Talk to your child’s school and ensure that they have educators who are trained in teaching or accommodating learning difficulties in children’s development.
2. Identifying your child’s best way to study: Once you identify how your child learns, you can use it to your advantage to predict your child’s brain order.

Simple ways for teaching kids about disabilities:
1. While most school children worry about fitting in, it is important that your child understands that what makes them different also makes them special, so tell them it is okay.
2. It is very important to emphasize to your children that disabilities are not a sickness that can be caught or transferred and make cures. Create make more awareness about this learning disorder, so that the problem can be tackled. The government and NGOs, as well as civil society, should take this initiative more seriously through the different modes of operation. (The writer is a teacher at Eklavya Public School, Jollang, Itanagar.)

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