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The Problem Child? Identify Your Child's Learning Difficulties

In the US, it is reported that 1 in 6 of all school going children may have various learning difficulties, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which makes focusing and concentration difficult. Such issues make learning a challenging and difficult activity for many children, and often result in them underperforming in school despite having a good IQ

What Does A Learning Difficulty Look Like?

The problems inherent in a learning difficulty are often subtle in nature. This causes much confusion to both the parent and child. That is because affected children often appear so creative and bright and are tested to have normal, if not, classroom or playing cooperatively. Yet, their efforts are often overwhelming and do not result in the learning that we hope for, at home or in school. Before we realise it, school grades begin to fall and low motivation begins to surface.

Pinpointing To the Cause

Unlike physical disabilities such as deafness, blindness or a paralysis, the underlying causes of learning difficulties are not obvious. According to experts in the field, the roots of learning difficulties are believed to be neuro-biological in nature, whereby the brain does not process information as it typically should.

This is analogous to a jam in the brain circuitary which makes it difficult for the brain to receive, interpret and transmit information from the environment to the mind and body, and back out again. Learning difficulties have also been observed to run in families known to have the problem.

Early Detection And Intervention

Professionals in childhood development point out that learning difficulties are treatable particularly if the problems are detected and diagnosed at an early age. When left untreated, a vicious cycle of problems will build up and accumulate to create a "snowballing" effect

For instance, what could start out as a problem with recognising letters could lead to problems with recognising words at pre-school and further manifest as problems with reading comprehension work at primary school level. By the time the child reaches secondary school, he or she may have been labeled "stupid", "lazy" or "a failure", which can cause low self-esteem, a disinterest in school as well as frustration and restlessness.

Parents who suspect learning difficulties in their child should send him or her for an evaluation with a trained professional who can comprehensively evaluate his or her learning skills and diagnose any areas of weaknesses. This will allow for effective recommendations to specific educational services, as well as appropriate placements in school.

A professional assessment will also give parents greater insight into their child's development and help them cope with any existing learning difficulties in order to maximise the child's learning potential.

Advice For Parents

Experts advices to other parents of children with ADHD: 

  • Always be in touch with your child's teachers. These are the people who can best inform you of your child's learning progress.
  • Choose the appropriate treatment based an your knowledge of the key areas that your child is weak in. Different treatments work for different problems. A lot of trial and error is required. You must be prepared to observe carefully and keep an eye out for treatments that work and treatments that do not.
  • Relatives and friends may not relate to what you are experiencing and may attribute your child's ADHD condition to your poor parenting skills. You might even start to  believe them. However, always remember that while most parents can get away with poor parenting skills with normal children, good parenting skills are a must for a child with learning difficulties. Never think that you are a poor parent if you are trying your best.
  • Do not give up hope: I always like to remember this line: "Success is getting up more often than falling down." So, hang on in there. Your efforts will definitely bear fruit one day.

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