A learning disability is a developmental disability that causes children to be unable to keep up with their peers in school and other learning. There are different types of learning disorders, all of which require appropriate therapy.
What is a learning disorder?
A learning disorder shows up with symptoms at school at the latest, but often earlier. So it is significant that the affected children have great problems learning new content. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Learning Disorder.
Experts understand a learning disorder as a child developmental disorder that relates to school skills. With otherwise normal intelligence, those affected have difficulty keeping up with other children in school and kindergarten.
The learning disability can be related to reading, writing or arithmetic, for example. This does not always have to be a reduction in the corresponding skills, but can also mean, for example in the case of hyperlexia, the significantly premature acquisition of the ability to read.
Under certain circumstances, a learning disorder can indicate a disease such as Asperger’s syndrome. Affected children should therefore be examined and treated appropriately. Such a therapy is often a significant improvement in learning ability and thus also a social integration in school and later possible everyday work.
Learning disabilities can have many causes. As already mentioned at the beginning, it can be a disease such as autism or Asperger’s syndrome that leads to such a developmental disorder or abnormality.
Often, however, no direct illness or disability can be identified in the affected children. In these cases, there are usually several factors that lead to the learning disability. On the one hand, the social environment of the affected child can result in a change in learning ability, for example if excessive pressure of expectations is exerted and the child is unable to learn properly due to fear of failure.
The school itself or other classmates and the teacher can also promote a learning disorder if, for example, the child does not feel well or is afraid to go to school. Ultimately, the child itself can be predestined for a learning disorder due to biological or psychological factors.
Typical & common learning disorders
- Dyslexia (dyslexia)
- Arithmetic weakness (acalculia)
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A learning disorder shows up with symptoms at school at the latest, but often earlier. So it is significant that the affected children have great problems learning new content. This can refer to learning in general or means sub-areas. If the learning disorder affects all areas, the children are not able to learn the required content sufficiently quickly.
You seem unfocused and forgetful at times. Normal lessons do not lead to success with them. They cannot create a learning environment for themselves and also give up learning on their own due to increased failure.
Many learning disorders, however, relate to sub-areas of school education. Examples include dyslexia and dyscalculia. With these forms of learning disabilities, only the learning of one discipline is disrupted. All other content is absorbed normally and learned normally.
Another significant learning disability is hyperlexia. Here the children have a high affinity for numbers and letters. You will learn the symbols and their functions at a very fast pace. However, the meaning of the same is often not sufficiently revealed to them. You will learn how to write and do arithmetic, but not necessarily the correct interpretation. Overall, children with learning disabilities do not show reduced intelligence on average.
Diagnosis & History
A learning disorder is usually noticed when the affected children have noticeable difficulties in keeping up in school compared to their peers. If the teacher notices such a weakness, he should contact the parents so that they take note and, if necessary, visit a psychologist.
Using simple tests, they can find out whether and which learning disorder it is. The causes should also be investigated. If left untreated, learning disabilities lead to social isolation and a loss of self-confidence in those affected. They may skip school to avoid the pressure.
An entry into a normal professional life is made more difficult as a result due to poor school grades. A vicious circle is created that cannot be broken by itself.
A learning disability can be isolated or associated with other learning disabilities. For example, dyscalculia and dyslexia occur together more often than average. In addition, they may be accompanied by other mental and behavioral disorders. Children with ADHD are more likely to have a learning disability that affects reading, writing, or arithmetic than their peers without ADHD.
Complications for everyday school life and learning in general often result from a learning disorder, although a specific learning disorder such as dyslexia does not necessarily have to be associated with reduced intelligence. Children who find reading difficult often have trouble acquiring knowledge in other school subjects, doing research or reading books. They often need more time to do this than their schoolmates. Without appropriate compensation, these children can therefore be disadvantaged when it comes to grading.
However, even with appropriate compensation, such as extra time on tests and exams, complications can still arise. For other children and parents, it is sometimes incomprehensible why a dyslexic child is given more time for tasks. This can result in resentment and envy, which can affect the child’s social relationships at school.
In addition, children with a learning disability may develop anxiety or depression that can progress to an anxiety disorder or depression. Aggressive or oppositional behavior is also possible. These complications must also be taken into account during treatment.
When should you go to the doctor?
If a child performs significantly worse than their classmates, the reason for this should be investigated. A learning disability is not the only possible explanation. However, if the child has not missed classes and there is no other explanation for the deficits, a learning disability must be considered.
Parents who suspect a learning disorder can turn to various contact persons. Specialized advice centers that are pedagogically or psychologically oriented are well suited. Furthermore, self-employed child and youth therapists can be considered as contacts, as can paediatricians. However, a pediatrician often only issues a referral because learning disabilities are not treated medically. The psychological and, if necessary, linguistic therapy is in the foreground.
However, a clarification by the pediatrician can be useful in order to rule out medical causes for the performance deficits. In addition, a pediatrician can, for example, prescribe speech therapy treatment for dyslexia (difficulty reading). If speech therapy is prescribed as a remedy, the statutory health insurance company usually bears the costs.
Treatment & Therapy
Once a learning disability has been diagnosed, it is particularly important to know the exact cause. If, for example, an illness or a disability is present, it is possible that the affected child is not able to demonstrate normal learning behavior and may have to attend a school specially tailored to this.
If the learning disorder is due to social and similar factors, normal learning behavior and thus a regular school and professional career can in many cases be achieved with appropriate therapy. The child’s self-confidence must be strengthened here in particular, because only if it believes in its own abilities can it make progress. A slow and careful approach by parents, teachers and therapists is therefore imperative.
Special tutoring, tailored to the child’s needs, can help to master the subject matter and also ensure that the child develops fun learning.
Outlook & Forecast
A learning disorder is one of the diseases that is usually noticed in the early development process of humans. If various measures are taken to promote learning as early as childhood, the cognitive possibilities often improve. However, this depends on the underlying disease and cannot be generally determined. Numerous early intervention programs have been developed that can be used individually and are well researched. However, full recovery is rarely achieved over a lifetime. The prognosis therefore depends on the present cause and the start of therapy.
An improvement in the existing disorder can also be achieved if, in addition to the use of medical therapies, self-help measures are also used. The environment and thus the influence of relatives and people from the social environment can contribute significantly to a better chance of success for the patient. If the learning disorder occurs after an accident or a brain disease in the course of life, the prognosis is usually worse.
Improving memory performance at an advanced age can only be achieved under difficult conditions. In addition, some diseases prevent the formation of new memory content. Nevertheless, in most cases, existing symptoms can be alleviated in cooperation with a therapist.
A learning disability cannot be directly prevented. Parents should always teach their child self-confidence and enjoy learning and support them without pressure, even if problems arise. If the first signs of a learning disorder appear, the pediatrician should be consulted so that appropriate treatment can be started in good time.
The measures and options for aftercare depend heavily on the type of learning disorder. First and foremost, this aims at individual support in order to contain the suffering and eliminate it in the long term. Those affected are therefore dependent on a comprehensive examination, which should be carried out at an early stage. Only by diagnosing the learning disorder at an early stage can further complaints or disorders in the child’s development be prevented. Appropriate therapeutic approaches aimed at improving the child’s ability to learn are important. The more intensively these are applied, the better the prospects of an improvement in the limitation.
Parents can also do therapy exercises with the child at home and thereby reduce the symptoms. Intensive therapy and care by the parents or other relatives is often necessary. Intensive and loving conversations with the child are also very useful. Parents can also contact other people with a learning disability, as this often involves an exchange of information. As a rule, this disease does not reduce the life expectancy of the child.
You can do that yourself
Self-help groups that deal with the topic of learning disabilities are often aimed at the parents of the children affected. Self-help groups can have different orientations: some focus on mutual emotional support or discuss general educational issues, while others focus on specific measures to support the children.
In many cases, the learning disorder leads to the child feeling inferior and lacking confidence in their own achievements. Some children suffer from bullying at school. Poor school grades, which are a consequence of the learning disorder, are often wrongly attributed to a lack of intelligence. A sense of achievement in everyday life can strengthen self-confidence again. There are activities that the child enjoys and that they can safely master. Both sport and creative activities, music and other leisure activities are suitable for this. Time-outs and phases without any pressure to perform are also important. Under no circumstances should the child be reduced to its learning disability.
Anxiety disorders and depression can easily flourish when the child feels they are failing. Here, too, self-help measures and changes in everyday life can have positive effects – however, possible depression, anxiety disorders or other mental disorders should also be treated by a trained specialist, for example by a teacher or child and youth therapist.