Learning Disability

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Learning Disability

Postby Admin on Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:00 pm

What is a learning disability?

Learning disability is usually the result of a life-long condition that starts before adulthood. Learning disabilities can occur as a result of genetic or developmental factors, or damage to the brain, often at birth. They affect a person's level of intellectual functioning, usually permanently, and may also affect their physical development. Learning disabilities tend to be fairly fixed, and often cannot be treated or controlled with medication or other therapies. However, much can be done to help people with learning disabilities to make use of their abilities and to achieve the best possible quality of life.

The degree of learning disability can vary enormously, even among those diagnosed with the same syndrome. Furthermore, some people may be much more able than they are assumed to be, whereas others may be much less so. One complication is that a person's use of language may not be a good indicator of their level of understanding: someone with fluent speech may in fact have very poor understanding, while another person may have very good understanding but be unable to express themselves fluently.

What causes learning disabilities?

Little is currently known about the causes of learning disabilities. However, some general observations can be made:

* Some children develop and mature at a slower rate than others in the same age group. As a result, they may not be able to do the expected school work. This kind of learning disability is called "maturational lag."
* Some children with normal vision and hearing may misinterpret everyday sights and sounds because of some unexplained disorder of the nervous system.
* Injuries before birth or in early childhood probably account for some later learning problems.
* Children born prematurely and children who had medical problems soon after birth sometimes have learning disabilities.
* Learning disabilities tend to run in families, so some learning disabilities may be inherited.
* Learning disabilities are more common in boys than girls, possibly because boys tend to mature more slowly.
* Some learning disabilities appear to be linked to the irregular spelling, pronunciation, and structure of the English language. The incidence of learning disabilities is lower in Spanish or Italian speaking countries.

What are the "early warning signs" of learning disabilities?

Children with learning disabilities exhibit a wide range of symptoms. These include problems with reading, mathematics, comprehension, writing, spoken language, or reasoning abilities. Hyperactivity, inattention and perceptual coordination may also be associated with learning disabilities but are not learning disabilities themselves. The primary characteristic of a learning disability is a significant difference between a child's achievement in some areas and his or her overall intelligence. Learning disabilities typically affect five general areas:

1. Spoken language: delays, disorders, and deviations in listening and speaking.
2. Written language: difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.
3. Arithmetic: difficulty in performing arithmetic operations or in understanding basic concepts.
4. Reasoning: difficulty in organizing and integrating thoughts.
5. Memory: difficulty in remembering information and instructions.

What should a parent do if it is suspected that a child has a learning disability?

The parent should contact the child's school and arrange for testing and evaluation. Public school districts provide special education and related services to children who need them. If these tests indicate that the child requires special educational services, the school evaluation team (planning and placement team) will meet to develop an individual educational plan (IEP) geared to the child's needs. The IEP describes in detail an educational plan designed to remediate and compensate for the child's difficulties.

Simultaneously, the parent should take the child to the family pediatrician for a complete physical examination. The child should be examined for correctable problems (e.g. poor vision or hearing loss) that may cause difficulty in school.

Treatments for people with learning disabilities

The most common treatment for learning disabilities is special education. Specially trained educators may perform a diagnostic educational evaluation assessing the child's academic and intellectual potential and level of academic performance. Once the evaluation is complete, the basic approach is to teach learning skills by building on the child's abilities and strengths while correcting and compensating for disabilities and weaknesses. Other professionals such as speech and language therapists also may be involved. Some medications may be effective in helping the child learn by enhancing attention and concentration. Psychological therapies may also be used.

Medication

Studies have shown improvement in behaviour in many cases where behaviour disorders have been treated with mood stabilisers, such as lithium, and anticonvulsants. It is suggested that many people with learning disabilities may have underlying epileptic activity that is helped by these drugs.

Neuroleptics are the most frequently prescribed form of medication for challenging behaviour and mental health problems in people with learning disabilities. This is despite research showing that such drugs can often be used excessively and without consideration of their appropriateness; for example, some of those prescribed neuroleptics would benefit more from antidepressants. It has also been shown that polypharmacy (where a number of different psychiatric drugs are prescribed together) may be more common in people with learning disabilities.

Talking treatments
Talking treatments, such as psychotherapy and psychological approaches, have been used to treat mental health problems in people with learning disabilities, with varying degrees of success. However, such interventions require specialist training for this client group, and such specialists are very rare. The Department of Health guidelines on psychological therapies state, "We acknowledge that, in the case of people with learning disabilities, there is no clear boundary to identify where this guideline ceases to apply. It should not be assumed that people who have mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment fail to benefit from the mainstream therapies described here."

In reality, however, people with learning disabilities rarely have access to such therapies and are not included in research studies that might assess efficacy. Reports of single case studies suggest that people with learning disabilities can respond well to behavioural therapies.

Other treatments
Other forms of treatment such as occupational therapy, arts therapies, relaxation training and social skills training are also used. While these are common in special schools, they are rarely offered in adult services and are generally available only within specialised centres, of which there are few. Activities such as music and dance groups are more likely to be provided locally by voluntary agencies than by statutory services, and provision is patchy.

If members know any more information about learning disability, please add the information in this post and help us grow the knowledge base and help inform more people about the importance of understanding learning disability. Thanks



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http://www.mind.org.uk/Information/Factsheets/Learning%2Bdisabilities/
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/learningdisabilities/learningdisabilities.htm
http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/learning/learning_disabilities.shtml#What%20is%20a%20learning%20disability?

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Re: Learning Disability Help and Information

Postby Nick on Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:08 pm

Pointers for parents who have children with learning disabilities.

1. Take the time to listen to your children as much as you can (really try to get their "Message").
2. Love them by touching them, hugging them, tickling them, wrestling with them (they need lots of physical contact).
3. Look for and encourage their strengths, interests, and abilities. Help them to use these as compensations for any limitations or disabilities.
4. Reward them with praise, good words, smiles, and pat on the back as often as you can.
5. Accept them for what they are and for their human potential for growth and development. Be realistic in your expectations and demands.
6. Involve them in establishing rules and regulations, schedules, and family activities.
7. Tell them when they misbehave and explain how you feel about their behavior; then have them propose other more acceptable ways of behaving.
8. Help them to correct their errors and mistakes by showing or demonstrating what they should do. Don't nag!
9. Give them reasonable chores and a regular family work responsibility whenever possible.
10. Give them an allowance as early as possible and then help them plan to spend within it.
11. Provide toys, games, motor activities and opportunities that will stimulate them in their development.
12. Read enjoyable stories to them and with them. Encourage them to ask questions, discuss stories, tell the story, and to reread stories.
13. Further their ability to concentrate by reducing distracting aspects of their environment as much as possible (provide them with a place to work, study and play).
14. Don't get hung up on traditional school grades! It is important that they progress at their own rates and be rewarded for doing so.
15. Take them to libraries and encourage them to select and check out books of interest. Have them share their books with you. Provide stimulating books and reading material around the house.
16. Help them to develop self-esteem and to compete with self rather than with others.
17. Insist that they cooperate socially by playing, helping, and serving others in the family and the community.
18. Serve as a model to them by reading and discussing material of personal interest. Share with them some of the things you are reading and doing.
19. Don't hesitate to consult with teachers or other specialists whenever you feel it to be necessary in order to better understand what might be done to help your child learn.

http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/learning/learning_disabilities.shtml#What%20is%20a%20learning%20disability?
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Re: Learning Disability Help and Information

Postby COURAGE on Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:42 pm

Nothing to add. Just wanted to say, "Well written Nick."
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Re: Learning Disability Help and Information

Postby Nick on Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:51 am

Thanks COURAGE, let me know if you want any other specific topics like this one up and I will add them up. Also if you can find information that would help our members then please post them up and share with the community, no matter how big or small the info is.

Thanks
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