Learning Disability

What is learning disability?
Learning disability (sometimes called a learning disorder or learning difficulty), is a disorder in which a person has difficulty learning in a typical manner, usually caused by an unknown factor or factors. The unknown factor is the disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive and process information. This disorder can make it problematic for a person to learn as quickly or in the same way as someone who isn't affected by a learning disability. Learning disability is not indicative of intelligence level. Rather, people with a learning disability have trouble performing specific types of skills or completing tasks if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways.
A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed. With the right support and intervention, however, people with learning disabilities can succeed in school and go on to be successful later in life.

Are there any early warning signs of learning disability? If yes, what are those?
Following can be the probable early signs of learning disability:

  1. Significant delay in development of speech
  2. Delay in development of fine motor skills
  3. Difficulty in pronouncing words. Child often has difficulty separating/sequencing sounds in words (cinema for cinema) or blending sounds (kirket for cricket)
  4. Difficulty or slowness to add new vocabulary words
  5. Unable to recall the right word.
  6. Inability to rhyme by age 4 years
  7. Difficulty in tying shoelaces.
  8. Confusion in directional words and space concepts, left vs. right, over vs. under, before vs. after.
  9. Lack of dominant handedness (switches from right hand to left hand between tasks or even while doing the same task)
  10. May have trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, day of the week, colors, and shapes
  11. May have difficulty telling and/or retelling a story in the correct sequence.

What support can my child with learning disability get from the occupational therapist?
Occupational therapist can certainly help the child to manage the learning disability or learning difficulties to a great extent. Therapist after analysis of the learning difficulty can communicate the issues with the parents and guide them for assessments to be done in order to be sure of the diagnosis. If in case the diagnosis is already done, occupational therapist designs all the activities during the therapy session in such a way that they serve the purpose and meaning to contribute in remediating the learning difficulties. Therapist may also provide substantial help and guidance to the parents/guardians to help the child manage the frustration towards the condition in home setting. Advice to the school authorities and class teachers can also be provided to help them facilitate the child improvement in a school setting through few modifications during a class room session..

How long shall I continue the Occupational Therapy for my child?
Occupational Therapists work in a sequential order. At the first visit to the clinic the child is assessed thoroughly, the parents/guardians are also involved during the assessment process. Assessment of the child continues thereafter separately in the therapy session, which leads to probable diagnosis on the basis of which, a therapy program is prepared for the child. This therapy programs has goals-short term and long term to be achieved. Re-assessment and evaluation of child is done after every three months (approx.) to determine the improvements. Once the re assessment is done, the therapist decides on the continuation or discontinuation of the therapy and advices the same to the Parents/guardian.

Will I as a Parent also benefit from the Therapy sessions, if yes how?
Certainly, Occupational therapists shall discuss clearly over the state of the child and can provide the parent/guardian the explanation of the problems faced by the child. This helps the parent/guardian not only to understand the child better but also incorporate the methods and means which are described by the therapist and follow them in a home setting and equally help the child in order to overcome the issues. The therapist prepares a home management program for the parents/guardian which enumerates the activities to be undertaken with the child at home. Complete and clear explanation of these activities is done by the therapist and the do’s and don’ts are mentioned, to be followed by the parents at home in respect of the child.

Are there any legal policies in education system which can benefit the learning disabled?
Yes, there are policies made for individuals with learning disability in spheres of education and employment. Ministry of social justice and empowerment and persons with disability act, 1995 hold laws which can help individuals along with this, CBSE –education board also ensures that the learning disabled child may be given some relaxation in terms of marking and while choosing the subjects in higher standards.