Human beings have an innate deep complexity.  Each and every one of us is unique in our own way.  Some of our characteristics are a bit more visible, however, some are internal and cannot be seen by the naked eye.  One example of this is neural learning disabilities.  Neurological learning disabilities, also known as learning disorders, are neurologically-based processing issues that limit the brain’s ability to store, recognize, process, and produce information.  This disruption in neurological processing affects your ability to speak, listen, read, write, and solve math problems.  As the name suggests, learning disorders affect your ability to learn in a typical classroom setting.  People with learning disorders are not any less “smart”, instead they simply process information differently than the neurotypical individual and may favor alternate learning styles.  It is important to be able to recognize the different types of learning disorders and understand the accommodations and learning styles that may help the success of children with learning disorders in and outside the classroom.

How are learning disorders developed?

In most cases, learning disorders result due to genetics, therefore a family history of learning disorders is the largest predictive or risk factor for developing some form of learning disorder.  Other but less common risk factors include poor nutrition, severe head injuries, child abuse, and complications during pregnancy.  The majority of the time a learning disorder is something you are born with; however, it can develop due to external factors.  

Different types of learning disorders

Learning disorders are an “umbrella” term that describes a variety of more specific learning disabilities.  Each learning disability is different and each student with the learning disability is different, as learning disabilities come in more severe or very mild forms.  Listed below are some of the different types of learning disabilities identified by the Learning Disabilities Association of America:

  • Dyscalculia:  This learning disability specifically affects an individual’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts.  Dyscalculia is associated with difficulty with fundamental number representation and processing, resulting in difficulties using non-verbal processes (such as counting) to complete simple numerical operations.  
  • Dysgraphia:  Dysgraphia involves the impaired ability to produce legible and automatic letter writing and often numeral writing, which can affect both writing and math skills.  This is often due to the brain’s difficulty storing and retrieving letters and numbers.
  • Dyslexia:  Dyslexia is characterized by deficits in accurate and fluent word recognition.  This disorder causes individuals to struggle with word recognition, decoding, and spelling.  Many people with dyslexia struggle with phonological awareness, which refers to the ability to hear, identify and manipulate spoken words.
  • Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities:  Non-verbal learning disabilities refer to the difficulty interpreting nonverbal cues such as facial expressions or body language and may have poor coordination.  Research suggests that nonverbal learning disabilities are associated with impairment in 3 broad areas including, motor skills, visual-spatial organizational memory, and social abilities. 
  • Oral/Written Language Disorder and Specific Reading Comprehension Deficit:  Affecting an individual’s understanding of reading or spoken language, these disorders cause trouble understanding or expressing language often in both oral and written forms.  This may cause difficulties in the individual’s ability to express themselves with oral language later on in life. 

Signs and symptoms of a learning disorder

Growing up, many children may experience challenges with reading, writing, or performing other learning-related tasks at some point in their lives.  However this alone does not indicate a learning disability, children with learning disabilities often display several of the common signs and symptoms which typically do not go away or improve over time.  Keep in mind the signs of learning disabilities vary from person to person, so in order to determine whether a learning disorder is present or not you will need to get a diagnosis from a professional.  The common signs of a learning disability include:

  • Problems with reading and/or writing
  • Difficulties with math
  • Poor memory
  • Problems paying attention
  • Trouble following directions
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty with or inability to tell time (read a clock)
  • Problems staying organized

Additionally, children with learning disabilities may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Impulsiveness
  • “Acting out” in school/social situations
  • Difficulty staying focused; easily distracted
  • Difficulty saying words correctly out loud or verbally expressing themselves
  • Poor school performance
  • Using short or simple phrases for their age group
  • Difficulty listening
  • Difficulty understanding words or concepts
  • Problems dealing with changes in schedule or situation   

Getting a diagnosis 

In order to receive proper help and treatment for learning disabilities, a proper diagnosis is needed.  Learning disorders should not be self-diagnosed and instead should be diagnosed by a professional.  Learning disabilities are typically diagnosed by conducting two specific tests and noticing the discrepancy between the two scores.  These two tests are an intelligence quotient (or IQ) test and a standardized achievement (reading, writing, arithmetic) test.  A significant discrepancy found between the two scores often indicates some form of learning disability.  When a learning disability is not diagnosed early on in life, correctly, or treated effectively it can lead to a number of other issues, including emotional and behavioral problems.  Additionally, learning difficulties can cause problems in the classroom, inhibit academic success, and create self-esteem issues if they are not treated properly.  If you suspect your child may have some form of learning disability, it is important to get a proper diagnosis from a professional in order to understand the type and severity of the disorder, as well as learn the proper techniques to help support your child with their learning disability.  

How to help your child with a learning disorder

As a parent, you play a pivotal role and influence on your child’s life.  Acting as a support system to your child and advocating for your child’s educational and social needs can play an important role in their success later in life.  Advocate for your child’s needs in school and work on seeing what kind of accommodations or special services there are offered for your child.  Educate yourself on your child’s specific learning disability and ways you can help improve communication skills.  Help teach your child how to deal with the obstacles that may occur due to their learning disability, but be sure to focus on your child’s strengths instead of weaknesses.  Emphasizing what your child does well while also teaching them how to improve upon their weaknesses can help to build self-confidence and improve your child’s belief in their own ability to be successful. 

Seven Stars can help

Seven Stars is a therapeutic treatment program for adolescents ages 13-17 who are falling behind their peers due to neurological and developmental disorders.  Our residential treatment center works to build confidence and skills in our students using a combination of acute care stabilization, outdoor adventure therapy, and positive psychology.  At Seven Stars, we use holistic techniques to help build success in teens struggling with neurodevelopmental disorders.

For more information about how Seven Stars can help your child, please call (844) 601-1167 today!