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What are the signs of a learning disability?

If an individual has a learning disability, the following areas may be affected: spoken language, written language, listening, self control, attention, cognitive/thinking skills, reading, math calculations, or physical delays.

Technically, the term learning disabilities is defined as two standard deviations between achievement and intelligence on testing instruments. We all have learning differences with strengths and weaknesses in learning abilities. The term “learning disabilities” is generally only used when the impact of a learning difference is significant.

Many adults have learning disabilities that were undiagnosed when they were children. Some of these adults have used these strengths to excel in areas such as art, music, or athletics. Other adults have suffered and limited their academic, career, and social options because of an untreated learning disability.

It’s important to note that more than 60 percent of adolescents in substance abuse programs have learning disabilities. Thirty-five percent of students with learning disabilities do not complete high school. In addition, 65 percent of students with learning disabilities were not employed full-time one year after graduation from high school.

It is recommended that children be given the opportunity to achieve success by identifying and treating learning difficulties early.

How do weak language skills from a learning disability affect academic progress?

It is critical for children to understand language concepts involving sequencing, quantity, direction, time, and size in order to calculate math problems.

Social studies involve directional concepts such as north, south, east, west, up, down, left, and right. Writing skills require a child to share details of a story (what, where, when, who, why, how) in the correct sequence, using appropriate descriptive language. These language areas and many others affect all areas of academic and occupational success in children and adults.

Spelling Issues

What causes poor spelling skills?

Spelling difficulties are often the result of visual problems or weak auditory (listening) skills. It’s critical that vision be tested for distance, tracking, binocularity, focusing, and not just visual acuity. The brain must be able to see the letters as well as process them at a deeper level.

Spelling skills require both visual and auditory skills. The ability to spell requires that a person has at least some of the following auditory skills:

  1. be able to hear the differences between sounds such as “pear” and “share”;
  2. be able to remember and quickly manipulate sounds to create new words (mop, pop, top); and
  3. be able to perceive each sound as a separate syllable.

Research confirms that the relationship between poor phonological skills and future difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, and math is significant. Early identification and treatment is the key.

How can parents help children with learning disabilities and weak spelling skills?

Get help early, and believe that your child will succeed. Trust your gut level. Learning activities can be fun and rewarding, and they don’t have to take a lot of time. If we give children the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow.