WHAT IS A LEARNING DISABILITY/DISORDER?
A learning disability is a neurological disorder. A child with a LD can be as smart as his/her peers, but the child's brain is wired differently. However, a LD can interfere with how the child's brain receive, process, store and produce information. For example, certain information can get stuck or lost while traveling through their brain, just like a car get stuck in a road construction area. The result is that children with a LD may have difficulty learning, reading, writing, speaking, listening, counting, reasoning, recalling, organising, focusing, memorizing, socializing and maturing emotionally. Their achievement is impaired, and they might be thought of as dumb, lazy, or difficult although they can be a lot smarter than their peers. It is important to know that a LD can affect academic success and quality of relationships with family members, friends, colleagues and life partners.
Unlike a learning difficulty with which students can still learn with conventional teaching methods, a learning disability (LD) requires a specialised interventions (according to Carlson S. A two-hundred-year history of learning disabilities). A LD is not to be confused with other disabilities such as autism, deafness, blindness, behavioral disorders, emotional disturbance or mental retardation. A LD can co-occur with different emotional, developmental and behavioral problems (according to World Health Organization. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems), which can vary from mild to severe.
Although a true LD cannot be cured or go away on its own, it can be relieved with the appropriate intervention. Children with a LD can be academically and professional successful if they learn to broaden their strengths to compensate for their weaknesses. For example, famous people like Albert Einstein and Walt Disney had problems with reading but they still achieved massive success and were extremely creative.
The following video, created by Amy Levine and Amy Margolis, Ph.D can demonstrate in simple way what a LD is.
In America, one in every seven people (15%) have some type of learning disability (according to National Institutes of Health)
According to Learning Disabilities Association of America, 41% of students who receive special education are diagnosed with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), including Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Language Processing Disorder, Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, and Visual/Spatial Motor Deficit.
According to Statistics Finland, at least 29% (or 1 in every 3) of students in comprehensive school received special education support, mainly for Speech Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia.
The most common type of learning disability is reading and language skill (Dyslexia). 80% of special education students identified as having a LD have this basic deficit.
Research has indicated that LD can often run in families, due to heritability factors, habit learning or social learning. Clinicians who work with individuals with LD tend to agree that there is a good chance that one or both of parents of a students with a LD show some signs of LD.
When children shows signs of learning problems, parents and teachers are usually the first notice that something does not seem right. However, learning where to find reliable information and knowing what to do can be quite a challenge.
The first step is to recognize, aceept a LD as a life long issue and understand the LD itself. Parents need to learn about how to deal with their children's LD, encourage their strengths and improve their weaknesses, and actively work with professionals from schools and hospitals. With the right interventions, children and adults who have LD can succeed in school and in life.
The more parents delay acknowledging that their children have a LD, the harder it becomes for their children to live a fulfilled life. In fact, many individuals with a LD never receive a formal diagnosis and go on with their life never understand why they have specific difficulties with their study, work, and relationship
In the USA, to qualify for special education service, children have to take special tests to prove that
Their brain's information processing causes a learning difficulty
This learning difficulty has resulted in a severe discrepancy between how much they are able to learn (potential) and how much they have learned (achievement)
A child can have a LD but is not qualified for special education service if the child has learned how to lessen their LD to an extent that their achievement or performance is not severely discrepant from their true learning ability.
In Finland, for the most part, no diagnoses or formal arrangements are required. The schools and teachers are required to provide adequate support to students as soon as special needs due to any learning disability or difficulty arise and are observed. For further information on Finnish system, please refer to our blog's articles.