Learning Disabilities

Learning disability is an overall term used to define a certain range of neurological disorders in learning and various degrees of severity of such disorders.

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

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Definition of Learning Disabilities

Learning disability is an overall term used to define a certain range of neurological disorders in learning and various degrees of severity of such disorders.

These are mental conditions that prevent or hinder a person’s ability to acquire the same amount of knowledge as others of the same age or age group.

Learning disabilities usually impact and interfere with the affected person’s ability to read and write, handle time, planning, do mathematical calculations, coordinate movements, direct attention or long or short-term memory.

The disabilities can be lifelong, presenting themselves sometimes as multiple overlapping learning disabilities or as a single isolated learning challenge that may have minimal impact on the affected person’s life.

These disabilities can affect someone’s life, academic ability and have an impact on the affected person’s relationships with family, friends, workmates and others in society (APA, 2013; LDA, n.d., NIH, 2019; National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke, n.d.; & Zilvinskis et al., 2021).

 

Causes of Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities may be caused by various triggers. Some may be genetic, while some may be due to poor early intervention or stimulation of neurological sensory cells. The most common known causes of learning disabilities include: 

  1. Inherited conditions through certain genes (such as Fragile X) that are passed from the parents affected by poor brain development. 
  2. Abnormalities in certain chromosomes such as Turner syndrome or Down’s syndrome.
  3. Lack of oxygen to a child’s brain during birth, resulting from childbirth complications.
  4. Children who are very prematurely born where the neurological development was affected.
  5. Alcohol exposure to an unborn child if the mother was drinking alcohol during pregnancy, leading to certain challenges such as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
  6. An incapacitating ailment or injury in early childhood that then affects normal brain development e.g., impact from a road traffic accident or child abuse.
  7. Contact with damaging material (e.g. radiation).
  8. Neglect, and/or a lack of mental stimulation early in life.
  9. Some people with learning disabilities have additional physical disabilities and/or sensory impairments.

(APA, 2013; LDA, n.d., NIH, 2019; National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke, n.d.; & Zilvinskis et al., 2021)

 

Types of Learning Disabilities

There are various learning disabilities. The most known types are of learning disabilities are: 

  • Dyslexia – this is likely the most common learning disability. It affects reading and related language-based processing skills. Those affected usually have learning challenges that include, reversal of positions of letters; delayed speech; auditory difficulty shown by challenges learning new vocabulary or rhymes; challenges processing visuals, such as understanding direction; and challenges with reading and comprehension.  
  • Dysgraphia – this is a specific learning disability that affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills. Those affected often may be challenged with writing legibly, ability to hold writing tools comfortably or even being able to produce legible text. 
  • Dyscalculia – this is a specific learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts. Those affected by this disability may show signs of challenges understanding even the most basic mathematical concepts. Many who are affected struggle with concepts such as measuring, counting, grouping numbers, identifying time and estimations. 
  • Auditory processing disorder – this is a learning disability that causes those affected to have hearing challenges and not be able to understand what they hear in the same way that others do normally. This is mainly because the ears sensory information processing and coordination with the brain do not happen properly. Sometimes this is linked to ear infections, premature birth or head trauma.
  • Language processing disorder – these are the learning disabilities that affect an individual’s understanding of what they read or of spoken language. The ability to express oneself with oral language may also be impacted.
  • Non-verbal learning disabilities – this is when the affected person has a specific learning disability that affects is characterised by difficulties with motor skills (fine and gross); visual -spatial awareness; executive functioning skills (e.g. planning, organising, sequencing); difficulty recognising, processing and interpreting social cues impacting social interactions; reading comprehension difficulties and maths skills.
  • Dyspraxia – these are learning abilities that impact the affected person’s motor skills or motor coordination. The main effects are challenging eye-hand coordination, poor balance, and difficulty with fine-motor tasks.

(APA, 2013; LDA, n.d., NIH, 2019; National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke, n.d.; & Zilvinskis et al., 2021)

 

Symptoms of Learning Disabilities

There are numerous ways that learning disabilities exhibit in affected persons. Some of the most common symptoms are: 

  • Challenges with reading and/or writing
  • Challenges with math
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty paying attention or short attention span.
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Unusual clumsiness
  • Difficulty being able to tell time
  • Difficulty with being and staying organized and other sensory challenges
  • Challenges with eye-hand coordination or poor eye-hand coordination.

 

(LDA, n.d., NIH, 2019; National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke, n.d.; & Zilvinskis et al., 2021)

 

References

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.).

Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Learning Disabilities Association of America (n.d.). Types of Learning Disabilities. LDA.

Learning Disabilities Association of America. (n.d.). Symptoms of learning disabilities. Retrieved August 3, 2021.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2019, March 3). Learning Disabilities Information Page. NIH.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). Dyslexia information page. Retrieved March 6, 2017.

Zilvinskis, J., Taub, D. J., Novi, A. M., DeAngelis, B. J., & Wilson, K. E. (2021). The Direct and Indirect Effects of Engagement on Desired Outcomes for First-Year Students With Learning Disabilities. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.

 

Behaviour Help

If you are supporting an individual with this diagnosis, please refer to our services and resources. They aim to help children, adolescents and adults achieve better communication, social, emotional, behavioural and learning outcomes. So whether you are wanting guidance on parenting, teaching, supporting or providing therapy, Behaviour Help is at hand.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes, symptoms and types but some general information that can be further explored. Based on what you have read if you have any concerns about an individual, please raise them with the individual/s. The caregiver can then raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the relevant professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, allied health professional and learning specialists) for diagnosis and treatment if appropriate.

Which resources are right for you?

Apps

Based on the Taking CHARGE of Rainbow of Emotions Workbook this app helps children of all ages develop emotional regulation skills. The app guides the child to firstly, identify and express their emotion in appropriate ways. Then the child is guided to use emotional management tool/s from the CHARGE tool kit to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The acronym CHARGE stands for the different categories of emotional management tools – Chat tools, Helpful thinking tools, Amusement tools, Relaxation tools, Good routine tools and Exercise tools.

Behaviour Help App - Using the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), the Behaviour Help web-based app allows people supporting individuals with emotional and behavioural difficulties to complete a Functional Behaviour Analysis and put together a comprehensive Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). The BSP can then be used by everyone interacting with the individual to manage and prevent challenging behaviours and ultimately improve their lives, and the lives of those who support them.

Books

If you want to learn more about emotional and behavioural difficulties then we have a great range of books you can read on your Kindle or order from Amazon.

Coaching

Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.

Therapy

Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.

Webinars

Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.

Workshops

Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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