Identifying learning disabilities

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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The spectrum of learning disabilities is wide, and it's important to identify which particular one may be affecting your child so the proper treatment can be administered. Conditions that may impact learning range from autism to Asperger's to ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and many times teachers or caregivers will write a child off as just being poorly behaved or slow to learn without properly diagnosing.

How do you know which group your child may fall into? Here is a guide.


Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a person's ability to socialise and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger's typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.


*A lack of eye to eye contact

* Unusual body posture or social expressions

*Difficulty making friends

*A preoccupation with one subject

*No interest in interactive play

*An inflexible attitude toward change

* Appearing not to understand, empathise with or be sensitive to others' feelings

* Speaking in a voice that is monotonous, rigid or unusually fast


Autism is one of a group of serious developmental problems called autism spectrum disorders that appear in early childhood -- usually before age three. Children with autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development -- social interaction, language and behaviour.


* Fails to respond to his or her name

* Has poor eye contact

* Appears not to hear you at times

* Resists cuddling and holding

* Appears unaware of others' feelings

* Seems to prefer playing alone -- retreats into his or her own world

* Doesn't ask for help or request things

* Doesn't speak or has delayed speech

* Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences

* Doesn't make eye contact when making requests

* Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm -- may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech

* May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn't understand how to use them

* Doesn't appear to understand simple questions or directions

* Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping

* Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change

* Moves constantly


ADHD is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.

Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age.


* Difficulty paying attention

* Frequently daydreaming

* Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening

* Frequently has problems organising tasks or activities

* Frequently forgetful and loses needed items, such as books, pencils or toys

* Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks

* Easily distracted

* Frequently fidgets or squirms

* Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion

* Excessively talkative

* Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others' conversations or games

* Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn

Other disorders that make learning difficult


Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterised by difficulty reading. Also called specific reading disability, dyslexia is a common learning disability in children. Dyslexia occurs in children with normal vision and intelligence. Sometimes, dyslexia goes undiagnosed for years and isn't recognised until adulthood.


* Learning new words slowly

* Difficulty rhyming

* Reading at a level well below the expected level for age

* Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears

* Difficulty comprehending rapid instructions

* Trouble following more than one command at a time

* Problems remembering the sequence of things

* Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words

* An inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word

* Seeing letters or words in reverse ("b" for "d" or "saw" for "was," for example)

* Difficulty spelling

* Trouble learning a foreign language


Dyscalculia is a learning disorder related to math concepts. Signs include difficulty solving even simple math problems or sequencing information or events.




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