Coping with a learning disability

A person with a learning disability is usually described as one who has average to above average intelligence, but has difficulty coping with schoolwork due to differences in the way he or she processes information, particularly through visual or auditory perception. The difficulties are NOT primarily due to visual, hearing, or motor disabilities or due to intellectual impairment, emotional disturbances, or economic disadvantages.

A learning disability interferes with a person’s ability to store, process or produce information. As a result, a learning disability can affect a child’s ability to read, write, spell, speak, compute numbers or reason effectively. A learning disability can also affect a child’s attention, memory, coordination, social skills and emotional maturity. Common learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia, a language-based disability in which a child has trouble with specific language skills, particularly reading and spelling.

  • Dyscalculia, a mathematical disability in which a child has difficulty solving arithmetic problems and grasping maths concepts.

  • Dysgraphia, a writing disability in which a child finds it hard to form letters, write within a defined space, and express ideas in writing.

These children may gain skills in some areas quickly and demonstrate a high-level ability (for example, in speaking), but have significant difficulties in reading or writing which are not typical of their general level of performance.

Students with dyslexia or dysgraphia undergo much hardship within our schools. A lack of awareness on the part of classroom teachers and administrators, large class sizes, and a lack of understanding amongst peers and family members combine to make it extremely difficult for a learning-disabled student to function within a mainstream classroom. In addition, constant failure results in very low self-esteem and long-term difficulties in coping with the challenges of life.

The Chitra Lane Children’s Resource Centre conducts comprehensive diagnostic assessments, remedial education, and counseling programmes for children with learning disabilities currently attending mainstream schools and for their parents. Currently students from government, private, and international schools across the country are being referred to our programmes by paediatricians, psychologists, teachers, and school principals. Early detection of a learning disability during the primary school years and appropriate remedial intervention can provide significant help to enable children to cope with the demands of the mainstream curriculum.

Unfortunately, an alarming number of O-Level students are referred to our Resource Centre due to difficulties in coping with schoolwork. In most cases, these children have never been diagnosed with a learning disability and have never received appropriate help. As a result, many children develop emotional and behavioral problems that can be very difficult and painful to solve. It is vital that a child with a learning disability is diagnosed early and provided with the necessary remedial assistance early in life.