Understanding Learning and Developmental Disorders in Your Child

Learning and developmental disorders in children are not uncommon. In fact, it has been found that approximately 5% of public school children have some form of learning disability that hinders an otherwise normal development. Learning and developmental disorders encompass a number of mental and psychological conditions in children and not just a single disorder. These disorders are characterized by the child’s difficulty to learn, process information, speak, read, do the math, and other interferences with learning and development.

Let us shed some light and help parents and guardians understand their child’s learning and developmental disorder. Armed with enough knowledge, you, as the primary caregiver and nurturer of your child, may be able to help them grow and develop as a normal child would and have the same opportunities and possibly even more achievements in the future.

What are the most common types of learning and developmental disorders?

The two most prevalent learning disorders in children are dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These are neurodevelopmental disorders that can hinder a child from reading, writing, and learning normally. Dyslexia is a common disorder observed in children as well as teens. It does not affect intelligence, but it does affect a child’s ability to read, write, and spell.

ADHD, on the other hand, is another common disorder that can affect a child’s ability to concentrate, pay attention, and focus on one thing for a prolonged period of time. ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These characteristics or symptoms often make it difficult for a child to learn and behave normally in school, thus hindering quality education.

There is also what is referred to as a general learning disability, which is a non-specific disorder that makes it more difficult for the child to learn, understand, and perform tasks compared to their peers. Children with a general learning disability still develop and learn throughout childhood, albeit more slowly than others.

Other learning and developmental disorders in children include:

  • Nonverbal learning disorder
    • Children with this disorder have trouble interpreting non-verbal cues and body language.
  • Auditory processing disorder (APD)
    • A disorder that affects how sound travels in the child’s ear and how it is processed by the brain. Children with APD have trouble understanding words and recognizing subtle differences in sounds.

  •  Dyscalculia
    • Children with dyscalculia have trouble understanding numbers and mathematics.
  • Language Processing Disorder (LPD)
    • With LPD, children have difficulty attaching meanings to sound groups that form words and sentences.
  • Visual Motor Deficit
    • This disorder can affect a child’s ability to draw or copy as a result of a misunderstanding of information. This can be manifested through poor hand-eye-coordination, struggle in writing or drawing, and not recognizing differences in shapes and letters.

How to recognize learning and developmental disorders in children?

            If you notice the following signs and symptoms in your child, then it may be best to get them an early consultation with a specialist:

  • Poor attention span
  • Poor grades at school
  • Trouble reading and writing
  • Problems with spelling
  • Acting out
  • Poor focus
  • Impulsiveness
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts
  • Poor listening skills
  • Cannot follow directions
  • Trouble telling time
  • Difficulty understanding words
  • Poor memory
  • Poor math skills

            These are just some of the signs and symptoms that a child with a learning disability may manifest. These signs and symptoms are often noticeable when the child starts going to preschool, wherein they are tested with learning tasks. However, having one or two symptoms does not automatically mean that a child has a learning disability. It is important that you take your child to a professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment for learning and developmental disorders

Once a child is diagnosed with a learning and developmental disability or disorder, early treatment will help the child catch up with expected milestones in both at school and at home. As a general rule, treatment does not cure a learning disorder, but it helps to strengthen a child’s abilities and help them develop as much as a normal child would.

For specific learning disorders, treatment is advised by a health professional and is often done in conjunction with the school, hospital, and the home. Often, treatment for specific learning disorders is done through multimodal teaching, which can help them strengthen their skills.

Many children suffer from learning disorders, but this should not dictate their future. With early detection and the right treatment approach, the skills of children suffering from learning disabilities are strengthened so that they can catch up with developmental and educational milestones.