Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Specific Learning Disabilities

          There are pupils that no matter how hard we taught them really find the lessons very very difficult. Teaching these kinds of pupils poses a great challenge to teachers that it seems all the teacher's effort is useless. This is the reason why teachers resort to "label" these pupils as dull, dumb, numskull, idiot and other derogatory words. However, some teachers actually don't know that there are predisposed conditions that hinder a pupil's ability most especially in learning Math, Reading and in other academic areas. These conditions are termed as Specific Learning Disabilities.

          What is a Specific Learning Disability?

          According to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA in USA, "specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. This "does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage."

        Since these are "learning disabilities", parents can't easily identify that their child has one of these conditions until the child enters school. And sometimes, people ended up labeling the child as having a low intelligence. We have to keep in mind that children with specific learning disabilities has more or less normal intelligence (in fact some of them may have a superior intelligence), it just so happened that their brain's "wiring" towards a specific learning area like Reading or Math is somewhat "tangled" or "disconnected".

          What are the common learning disabilities?

·         Dyslexia – a language-based disability in which a person has trouble understanding written words. It may also be referred to as reading disability or reading disorder.
·         Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.
·         Dysgraphia – a writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.
·         Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders – sensory disabilities in which a person has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision.
·         Nonverbal Learning Disabilities – a neurological disorder which originates in the right hemisphere of the brain, causing problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative and holistic processing functions.

       To learn more about Learning Disabilities, you can visit LD Online for various resources about these conditions. As teachers we have to keep in mind how diverse our pupils are, and before judging any pupil, we have to think the possibility that our pupil may have at least one of these conditions. 


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