You must have heard, observed or read that thousands of children get enrolled for education in schools. Some of them, however, find the demands of educational process too difficult to meet, and they drop out.Such students are called “drop-outs”. The reasons for this are numerous, such as sensory impairment, intellectual disability, social and emotional disturbance, poor economic conditions of the family, cultural beliefs and norms or other environmental influences. Apart from these conditions, there is another source of obstacle in the continuance of education that is called learning disabilities. It makes school learning, i.e. acquisition of knowledge and skills too difficult to grapple with. Such children also fail to move forward in their learning activities.
Learning disability is a general term. It refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested in terms of difficulty in the acquisition of learning, reading, writing, speaking, reasoning, and mathematical activities. The sources of such disorders are inherent in the child. It is presumed that these difficulties originate from problems with the functioning of the central nervous system. It may occur in conjunction with physical handicaps, sensory impairment, intellectual disability or without them.
It must be noted that learning disabilities may be observed as a distinct handicapping condition in children of average to superior intelligence, adequate sensory motor systems, and adequate learning opportunities. If it is not remedied, it may continue throughout life and affect self-esteem, vocation, social relations, and daily living activities.
Symptoms of Learning Disabilities
There are many symptoms of learning disabilities. They become manifest in different combinations in children who suffer from this disorder irrespective of their intelligence, motivation, and hard work for learning.
- Difficulties in writing letters, words and phrases, reading out text, and speaking appear quite frequently. Quite often they have listening problems, although they may not have auditory defects. Such children are very different from others in developing learning strategies and plans.
2. Learning-disabled children have disorders of attention. They get easily distracted and cannot sustain attention on one point for long. More often than not, attentional deficiency leads to hyperactivity, i.e. they are always moving, doing different things, trying to manipulate things incessantly.
3. Poor space orientation and inadequate sense of time are common symptoms. Such children do not get easily oriented to new surroundings and get lost. They lack a sense of time and are late or sometimes too early in their routine work. They also show confusion in direction and misjudge right, left, up and down.
4. Learning-disabled children have poor motor coordination and poor manual dexterity. This is evident in their lack of balance, inability to sharpen pencil, handle doorknobs, difficulty in learning to ride a bicycle, etc.
5. These children fail to understand and follow oral directions for doing things.
6. They misjudge relationships as to which classmates are friendly and which ones are indifferent. They fail to learn and understand body language.
7. Learning-disabled children usually show perceptual disorders. These may include visual, auditory, tactual, and kinesthetic misperception. They fail to differentiate a call-bell from the ring of the telephone. It is not that they do not have sensory acuity. They simply fail to use it in performance.
8. Fairly large number of learning-disabled children have dyslexia. They quite often fail to copy letters and words; for example, they fail to distinguish between b and d, p and q, P and 9, was and saw, unclear and nuclear, etc. They fail to organise verbal materials.
It must be noted that learning disabilities are not incurable. Remedial teaching methods go a long way in helping them to learn and become like other students. Educational psychologists have developed appropriate techniques for correcting most of the symptoms related to learning disabilities.