Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities take many forms and are usually not recognized until the child reaches school age.  Too often, students are erroneously labeled as slow witted, insolent or lazy. They are constantly being harassed to work harder by anxious adults concerned about their academic performance.


When the usual tactics of reward and punishment fail, parents and teachers become frustrated but, no one is more frustrated than the students themselves. The most depressing words in the English language has to be, “just try harder” says a student whose disabilities were finally identified in high school. “I was trying but because I wasn’t succeeding nobody believed me.”


Students who have learning disabilities may exhibit a wide range of traits, including problems with reading, comprehension, spoken language, writing or reasoning ability. Symptoms such as uneven and unpredictable test performance, perceptual impairments, motor difficulties, and behaviors such as impulsiveness, low tolerance for frustration, and problems in handling day-to-day social interactions and situations can also indicate an underlying difficulty.


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 and hence fall behind. Some children with normal vision and hearing may misinterpret everyday sights and sounds as a result of having a nonverbal learning difficulty of the nervous system. Injuries before birth or in early childhood can also account for some learning problems.  Children born prematurely and children who had medical problems soon after birth have been noted to have learning disabilities.  It has been observed that learning disabilities tend to run in families and can be inherited.   It should also be noted that learning disabilities are more common in boys than girls, possibly because boys tend to mature more slowly.


Various symptoms of learning disabilities are hyperactivity, general awkwardness, poor peer relationships, etc.


Teachers are sometimes the first to notice a learning difficulty in a student because they are comparing their performance with their peers in the classroom. Teachers raise their concerns with the parents and a psychological assessment can be recommended to discover the nature and extent of the student’s difficulties. Sometimes parents notice symptoms of learning disability at home and may approach us directly for help. Whatever the circumstance, any child showing indication of learning difficulty should be referred to an educational psychologist for evaluation. This should be done as soon as possible since intervention at an early stage will enhance the child’s ability to develop and maximize his potential.



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