There are many types of learning disorders that can affect our children. The good news is that learning differences and disabilities are getting more press and attention. However, it can get confusing when trying to understand what they mean and how they are similar and different from each other. Children may have one or more learning disorders, regardless of their strong thinking and problem-solving abilities. When your child is not “working to their potential” it may be because they have a legitimate learning issue. Here are a few of the most common learning issues or “Dys”orders and what you can do about them.
Dylexia is a common condition, impacting 1 in 5 people, that affects the way a person’s brain processes written and spoken language. Warning signs look different at different ages, but can include trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet, difficulty reading out loud, problems understanding reading material, and difficulty with rote memorization. In bright students, dyslexia can be hard to diagnose, due to their ability to compensate and achieve reading milestones despite a learning disability. This is called Stealth Dyslexia.
Dyslexic strengths include strong 3-D reasoning and building, creative problem-solving, high intuition, story telling, and the ability to integrate vast and divergent ideas and concepts.
A student with dysgraphia can have trouble putting words on paper, messy writing, poor spelling or punctuation, or a hard time even holding a pencil. Students with dysgraphia often avoid or melt down during writing activities, don’t take notes or write down their assignments, and “hate to write.” A key sign is if a child can tell a story out loud but can’t get it on paper. It is common for students with dyslexia to have dysgraphia, however, one can have dysgraphia without dyslexia.
Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that makes it hard to make sense of numbers and math concepts. The most common problem is number sense, or the basic understanding of how numbers work. Signs of trouble can include difficulty recognizing numbers and symbols, counting on fingers, trouble remembering phone numbers, or a hard time coming up with a plan to solve a math problem. If a child’s math ability and number sense is significantly below their other abilities, it is a sign that they may have dyscalculia.
What Parents Can Do
If you suspect your child has a learning disorder, you should talk to your child’s teacher. You may also request that your child be evaluated by their school for a learning or processing disorder. Additionally, you may seek an evaluation from a private licensed psychologist (such as those at Summit Center) to identify strengths and weaknesses and provide a specific diagnosis. A diagnosis may be helpful in obtaining further services through your child’s school.
A few recommendations to consider for the summer:
Dyslexia – Educational Therapy with a dyslexia specialist who uses a multi-sensory approach that is Orten-Gillingham informed such as Wilson, Slingerland, or Barton.
Dysgraphia – Consultation with an Occupational Therapist for diagnosis and exercises. Practice keyboarding.
Dyscalculia – Educational Therapy with a multi-sensory approach such as Making Math Real.