Children With Learning Disability

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As a psychologist, I would request all parents to take their children’s as biggest gift in life and caring child is same as like Gardner (Bagbaan), who always focus on best result of fruits. So as parents, we should always care our kids, care means saying your child “I am always with you”. 

Dr. Mudassir Hassan Pandith

learning-disability-boy“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own special world to bring them up in and I will guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist, I might select –doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant chief and yes even beggar man and thief-regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities and vocation and race of his ancestors”.

Above lines by John Watson in 1925 brought a great change in the trends of psychology, because he placed a great deal of responsibility on parents for raising competent children and he believed that emotions, as well as thought were acquired through learning. He was a famous behaviorist, who has replaced the idea of mind and consciousness as a subject matter of psychology. He accepted John Locke’s view of the Tabula Rasa (which means children’s are born without predetermined tendencies) and later elaborated it in year 1925. This means most of what we report as parents, for example “my child abuses”, “he does not read properly” etc., is learned behavior. Yes child does learn abusive language in the family, dealing with emotions, sadness, family problems; putting children into anxious movements like don’t do this and that, saying bad about neighbors and relatives, saying bad about leaders etc. Though there are many more examples in which children’s copy it from family members and surroundings. An important question is this “Or all bad behaviors in a child, because he or she has learned it through his or her surroundings”. Answer for this is no and to clarify this as a psychologist, I think we all should not confuse ourselves, because few of things happening with our kids are not always learned. Having said that psychiatric disorder’s which are commonly found in children’s and knowledge about them should be known to family members. One among them is “Leaning Disability (LD) or Specific Learning Disability (SLD)”.

Definition’s of Learning Disability

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (1998) had defined learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, reading, writing, mathematical skills, reasoning. The study of learning disabilities began with the works of Strauss and his colleagues in the 1940s, but it was Kirk’s in 1962 who coined the term “Learning Disability”. Though many definitions have been proposed, but none of them was totally acceptable and the latest definition proposed by Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 (DSM 5) is as “Learning disability is a type of neurodevelopment disorder that impedes the ability to earn or use specific academic skills (e.g., reading, writing or arithmetic), which are the foundation for other academic learning”. From this definition an important terms to understand is that it is a neurodevelopment disorder, which means impairments that effects our growth and development of the brain, which later effects or disrupts our brain functioning including reading, writing and arithmetic.

 Early Signs of Specific Learning Disability:  

  1. When a child finds it difficulties learn the names of letters. 
  2. He/ She will find it difficult in counting objects.
  3. When he /she grows up you can see that they have a problem with pronunciation.
  4. Difficulty in learning new words.
  5. Families always report “poor concentration”. 
  6. Difficulty in reading and writing.
  7. Problems with math skills.
  8. Forgets learned material.

 Causes of Learning Disability

Researchers have shown that there is not a single cause of learning disabilities, but it has been observed that many following factors can lead:

a). Genetic factors: Much research has reported that learning disabilities run in families and it has been found that people with learning disabilities have parents or other relatives with similar difficulties.

b). Mothers who take alcohol, smoke or addictive drugs, including cocaine, heroin, cannabis etc. during pregnancy adversely affect the brain’s development.

c). Medical Factors: Premature birth, Head trauma that causes brain injuries during birth, Post natal issues after birth and fetal distress during birth.

d). Nutritional deprivation and exposure to toxic substances (i.e. Lead).

Treatment:

Important of all is that the learning disorder should be diagnosed and it has been found that early diagnosis is always important. For this he/she should be diagnosed by professional clinical psychologist by using standardized tests in reading, writing or mathematics. It has been observed that children’s with learning disorder always shows low self esteem, chronic frustration and poor peer relationship. The dropout rate of school children’s has been reported that they were suffering from learning disabilities and adult with learning disabilities are at increased risk for difficulties in employment and social adjustment. Characteristic diagnostic features of reading disorder, including difficulty recalling, evoking and sequencing printed letters and words; they show grammatical mistakes. It has been observed that a child with reading disorder shows errors characterized by omissions, additions and distortions of words. Treatment strategies for children with reading  disorder is that both teachers and family members should give direct instruction of the various components of reading that focus a child’s attention to the connections between speech sounds and spelling. Always use positive feedback with kids having learning disabilities and focus should always be on reading accuracy, reading efficiency, passage reading fluency and spelling. Treatment for mathematics disorder is that teachers should combine teaching mathematics concepts with continuous practice in solving math problems. It has been observed that computer games on problem solving plays a very important role to increase compliance. One of the important treatments is that teachers and family members should devote as much as 2 to 3 hours a day to writing, spelling and passage reading. As a psychologist, I would request all parents to take their children’s as biggest gift in life and caring child is same as like Gardner (Bagbaan), who always focus on best result of fruits. So as parents, we should always care our kids, care means saying your child “I am always with you”.

The author is a Lecturer and clinical Psychologist at Government Medical Collage, Srinagar. He can be reached at lovesaif.hassan@gmail.com

From the print edition of March 29 -April 4, 2017

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