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Learning Disabilities- Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Intervention

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Learning disability is a blanket term for impairment in perception, comprehension, and communication. Follow the article to learn the disabilities extensively.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Abhishek Juneja

Published At October 11, 2022
Reviewed AtDecember 7, 2023

Introduction

Learning disability is not an immense disorder to worry about but it is a disability to be concerned for. The disability affecting children commonly has an unknown fact that affects the ability of the brain to process information. And for sure, the disability would make the child problematic to learn as quickly or perform in the same way as other children do. Toddlers and preschoolers are commonly prone. It may occur with other disabilities like intellectual disability, sensory impairment, and emotional and environmental disturbances.

What Is a Learning Disability?

The impairment or difficulties in reading, comprehending, vocalizing, and other learning thoughts are known as Learning disabilities. The disabilities also interfere with one’s attention, time management, socialization, and memory. Hence this could impact other circumstances beyond education. Like other children and adults, people with learning disabilities don’t seem different and are typical and intellectual.

What Are the Types of Learning Disabilities and Their Signs?

Learning disabilities are classified into many subtypes based on the difficulties in the four stages of learning and struggle in their actions. The following four types are based on their impairment through one of four stages.

  • Input- the stage recognition through senses as visual and auditory.

  • Integration- the interpretation and organization of information gathered from the previous stage.

  • Storage- Memory as short-term, working, or long-term.

  • Output- it comes from the brain by communicating the words or motor movements such as jumping and dancing.

Based on any impairment in the function are the following types.

Dyslexia

A specific learning disability that involves difficulty in reading, either in understanding the sounds of words or grasping the meaning, is known as dyslexia. They get strained or delayed in these themes.

  • Vocabulary skills.

  • Comprehension of the words and phrases.

  • Memorizing the letters, colors, and numbers.

  • Spelling.

Dyspraxia

Difficulties in movements and coordination are known as Dyspraxia. Also known as developmental Coordination Disorder(DCD) commonly affects physical coordination leading to distress in day-to-day performances. Stress in the output activity to communicate the extremity shows the following.

  • A delay in developmental milestones like crawling and walking is the first step.

  • Strain in fine motor skills like writing and typing or gross motor skills like playing and dancing.

  • Complications in drawing, handwriting, and playing the piano.

  • Difficulty in grasping the pen, crayons, and tying the sock.

Dyscalculia

The ability to learn or comprehend arithmetics is challenging in this condition. The child has difficulty in the manipulation of numbers and basic mathematical concepts. The child seems to be poor in these areas.

  • Learning sequences like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  • Reading analog clocks.

  • Spatial measurements like volume, distance, and shapes.

  • Recollecting the time and direction.

  • In stating the larger and smaller numbers.

Dysgraphia.

Dysgraphia is known for impairment in written expression. Here, the handwriting looks unclear, inconsistent, and distorted.

The following are the common signs of dysgraphia.

  • Inconsistency in the size and form of letters.

  • Frequent erasing.

  • Delay in writing and copying the text.

  • A painful wrist sometimes accompanies the tight and awkward grip of the pencil.

  • An unusual orientation of arm, note, and body.

Dysphasia.

A language impairment to understand and communicate spoken language is dysphasia. Aphasia is a complete language disability, while dysphasia is a partial disability. Five types of dysphasia are expressive, receptive, anomic, global, and progressive.

  • Communicating slowly and with difficulty.

  • Using repetitive and shorter phrases.

  • Anomia- struggling for words.

  • Unorganized words.

  • Using nonsensical words often.

  • Repetition of words and action.

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities.

They are known for poor coordination in non-verbal themes such as facial expressions and body actions. The child has adversity in recognizing and understanding the expressions, emotions, and visual information.

Auditory Processing Disorder.

Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, CAPD is the impairment of one’s ability to hear and discriminate sounds. This disorder further induces difficulty in speaking out the phrases and thus in reading and writing.

The child has adversity in the following actions.

  • Listening to music and background noise.

  • Reading and following conversations.

  • Recollecting words they heard.

  • Knowing the direction of the sound.

Visual Processing Disorder.

The disability of visual or graphic processing skills is known as visual processing disorder. The child possesses a deficit in interpreting visual information and poor hand-eye coordination. The child shows hardships in the succeeding functions.

  • Discriminating between similar objects.

  • Understanding shapes and colors.

  • Recollecting the information that they have seen.

  • Subtle numbers, letters, and objects.

What Causes Learning Disabilities?

There is no solitary or particular cause for learning disabilities. The brain’s ability to guide or perform actions can be inherited from parents due to stress during birth and childhood, trauma, or any underlying condition. The following are the common causes attributed to learning disabilities.

  • Hereditary.

Learning disabilities in children might be inherited from parents. A Spontaneous mutation in the gene results in a developmental disorder of learning, i.e., a defect in the CDK13 gene that shows comprehension and learning difficulties.

  • Risks During Pregnancy and Neonatal Care.

Developmental anomalies, brain illness, or neurologic injury during pregnancy can result in learning disabilities. Premature, restricted development in the uterus, prolonged labor, or a child with fewer pounds are likely to have disabilities. Exposure to drugs or alcohol in utero impairs learning ability. And distress for the child after birth as high fever, infection, and deficient nutrition may affect.

  • Trauma.

Head injury leading to brain abnormalities also results in learning disabilities. Physical or neurological trauma can cause a deficit in some areas of the brain that results in some disturbances in achieving learning milestones.

  • Other Causes.

  • In response to any drugs.

  • Exposure to toxins from heavy metals like lead in toys and paint.

  • A deficit in sensation like poor vision or hearing loss.

What Are the Ways to Diagnose Disabilities in Learning?

Firstly rule out any underlying issues in seeing, hearing, or motor actions. And if there are no such issues, then go for the other following assessments.

Academics and Intelligence Quotient, IQ.

Trained professionals like psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychometrists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists assess academic and IQ performances and look for any significant discrepancies. A brief medical history, clinical examination, classroom performance, and social interaction. Another assessment is on their cognition, memory, communication, and attention.

Response to Intervention.

A treatment-based diagnostic process to screen and categorize children into research-based early intervention programs.

Assessment.

In evaluating skills, including reading, comprehension, fluency, and mathematics. Commonly used achievement tests are Woodcock-Johnson IV and Wechsler Individual Assessment Test II.

How to Reduce the Risk of Learning Disabilities?

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol in utero.

  • Reduce taking medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

  • Give the child good nutrition and a clean environment.

  • Assess the effects of your child's medication with your doctor.

  • Avoid toxic exposure to the child.

  • Early Childhood screenings follow an early intervention if there are any disabilities.

How to Manage Learning Disabilities?

People with learning disabilities also have trouble facing some challenges that are often carried throughout their lifespan. There are many interventions and technologies to help the child. Some of the commonly performed interventions are as below.

Nurture the Children.

Check out one’s impairment early, find out the areas the child is facing difficulties, and help her. Also, encourage the other fair abilities.

Individualized Education Program.

This is a widely performed program by professional educators to educate the child in many ways. They focus on their strength and make them shine in academics.

Therapy.

Speech and occupational therapy are effective therapies that prove the child can do best without hardships. A psychiatrist or psychologist would help with underlying conditions like depression or anxiety.

Alternate Therapy.

Therapies like music, dance, and art. Dietary changes, vitamin supplements, and eye exercises.

Medication.

Learning disabilities are commonly in no need of pharmacological treatment. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs would help with other underlying conditions.

Aids and Accommodation.

Certain aids like an audiotape or a notepad can help the child to do better. Provide the child extra time and a healthy environment to build their esteem and self-confidence.

Conclusion

As mentioned before, a learning disability is not a massive disorder to deal with. The parents and teachers are the ones to look after the child showing disparate thinking and learning at an early span. And if you have any concerns, never hang back to talk to your child’s teacher and pediatrician. Learning disabilities are the most controllable as long as it is detected early and managed effectively by education and various therapies.

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Dr. Abhishek Juneja
Dr. Abhishek Juneja

Neurology

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