Understanding Learning Difficulties In Children
“It is an observed fact, that children having learning difficulties are most often more intelligent that many children of their age”
The other day, a person went on complaining about her 10 year old daughter, who found it quite hard to read a simple paragraph from her textbook. She assumed that her daughter did it intentionally, to avoid being forced to study. Are parents in India, this negligent about learning difficulties?
According to a study conducted by an international conference in 2012, around 10 per cent of the total students in India had learning difficulties. The study also adds that an estimated 30 million children are known to be dyslexic. But the question still remains – how aware are we about the different types of learning difficulties among children?
A 2015 research on Indian teachers, published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information journal, stated that a majority number of teachers believed themselves to be aware and knowledgeable about different learning disabilities whereas, only three-fifth of the numbers were aware. Teachers are the ones who help the child develop and play an equal role as parents, so the current scenario has to be improved.
Learning difficulties are roadblocks faced by some children in their process of learning. These difficulties are not caused due to biological factors and cannot be treated through surgery or medicine. Most of these difficulties are neurological.
Also, contrary to the common notion, learning difficulties are not caused due to lack of concentration or hard work by the child, Language, math and/or motor skill development (like eye-hand coordination, ability to process visual or auditory information, etc.) are the three areas, where learning difficulties are possible in a child.
Different Types Of Learning Difficulties
A child going through dyslexia has a problem in comprehending written text and often reads mirror images of alphabets. For example, ‘b’ is interpreted as ‘d’ and ‘was’ becomes ‘saw.’ This problem in comprehension, affects the child’s ability to read or write last. And though the child can understand concepts explained to him or her orally, reading and writing takes a backseat.
In Dysgraphia. the child faces difficulty in writing. The child/person with dysgraphia, often has a very poor handwriting; mostly a scribble which is not legible. Also, poor spacing between words on paper and poor spellings could be other symptoms.
This is a learning difficulty associated with mathematics. A child having this disability is unable to grasp numbers and its relationships making them hate the subject.
Difficulty Related To Auditory Information
This difficulty results from a lack of grasping spoken information and also misinterpreting them.
Related Academic Difficulties
It is very normal for some children to take time to understand certain topics. Similar to the instance of a child starting to walk at the age of nine months. This is normal, but some children may take a longer time to walk, around 15 months. Both these instances are completely healthy in terms of motor development. So, the same applies to children in the classroom. Some children might require some time to understand certain topics, while others around them, may grasp it much quicker.
Coping With Learning Difficulties
Learning difficulties among children is normal and common. Here are some ways to cope with learning difficulties.
Most schools today have remedial classes for children who are finding difficulties in learning and comprehending things. In these remedial classes, the teachers give special attention to these students and try and explain matters to them in their way of understanding.
Special Measures By The Government
There are different tests available in hospitals and child centres which can be taken by children to obtain medical certificates for specific learning difficulties. These tests will help children avail certain measures taken by the government in their interest, like extra time during exams, using a writer, oral exams, use of calculators, shadow teacher, etc.
Understanding Is Important
All parents and teachers need to be aware of the difficulties their children might be going through. As children they might not understand things the way it is and they might lack the ability to freely share what their difficulties are. Criticising them or blaming them would only create more pressure on them and may at times, even worsen the situation.
Signs of these learning difficulties can be seen in the child’s academic and sport activities around the age of seven. it is important to recognize these signs and work with the child to help him/her cope with it.
It is an observed fact, that children having learning difficulties are most often more intelligent that many children of their age. intelligence is thus not the problem. Therefore, do not assume things. Learning difficulties can be overcome, with a bit of understanding. It you think your child needs help in this regard, talk to counsellors to understand ways in coping with these learning difficulties.