Learning Disabilities - What are the early warning signs?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101 Archives' started by Sheila, Dec 27, 2003.

  1. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    This is an overall excellent site in my opinion. http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/

    The following excerpts are from: http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/learning/learning_disabilities/

    What are the "early warning signs" of learning disabilities?

    Children with learning disabilities exhibit a wide range of symptoms. These include problems with reading, mathematics, comprehension, writing, spoken language, or reasoning abilities. Hyperactivity, inattention and perceptual coordination may also be associated with learning disabilities but are not learning disabilities themselves. The primary characteristic of a learning disability is a significant difference between a child's achievement in some areas and his or her overall intelligence. Learning disabilities typically affect five general areas:

    Spoken language: delays, disorders, and deviations in listening and speaking.

    Written language: difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.

    Arithmetic: difficulty in performing arithmetic operations or in understanding basic concepts.

    Reasoning: difficulty in organizing and integrating thoughts.

    Memory: difficulty in remembering information and instructions.

    Among the symptoms commonly related to learning disabilities are:

    poor performance on group tests
    difficulty discriminating size, shape, color
    difficulty with temporal (time) concepts
    distorted concept of body image
    reversals in writing and reading
    general awkwardness
    poor visual-motor coordination
    difficulty copying accurately from a model
    slowness in completing work
    poor organizational skills
    easily confused by instructions
    difficulty with abstract reasoning and/or problem solving
    disorganized thinking
    often obsesses on one topic or idea
    poor short-term or long-term memory
    impulsive behavior; lack of reflective thought prior to action
    low tolerance for frustration
    excessive movement during sleep
    poor peer relationships
    overly excitable during group play
    poor social judgment
    inappropriate, unselective, and often excessive display of affection
    lags in developmental milestones (e.g. motor, language)
    behavior often inappropriate for situation
    failure to see consequences for his actions
    overly gullible; easily led by peers
    excessive variation in mood and responsiveness
    poor adjustment to environmental changes
    overly distractible; difficulty concentrating
    difficulty making decisions
    lack of hand preference or mixed dominance
    difficulty with tasks requiring sequencing

    When considering these symptoms, it is important to remain mindful of the following:

    No one will have all these symptoms.
    Among Learning Disability (LD) populations, some symptoms are more common than others.
    All people have at least two or three of these problems to some degree.
    The number of symptoms seen in a particular child does not give an indication as whether the disability is mild or severe. It is important to consider if the behaviors are chronic and appear in clusters.

    Some of these symptoms may indicate dyslexia.

    For more information go to ABOUT DYSLEXIA.

    Some of these symptoms may indicate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. For more information go to ABOUT ADHD.

    How does a learning disability affect the parents of the child?

    Research indicates that parental reaction to the diagnosis of learning disability is more pronounced than in any other area of exceptionality. Consider: if a child is severely retarded or physically handicapped, the parent becomes aware of the problem in the first few weeks of the child's life. However, the pre-school development of the learning disabled child is often uneventful and the parent does not suspect that a problem exists. When informed of the problem by elementary school personnel, a parent's first reaction is generally to deny the existence of a disability. This denial is, of course, unproductive. The father tends to remain in this stage for a prolonged period because he is not exposed to the child's day-to-day frustrations and failures.

    Research conducted by Eleanor Whitehead suggests that the parent of an Learning Disability (LD) child goes through a series of emotions before truly accepting the child and his problem. These "stages" are totally unpredictable. A parent may move from stage-to-stage in random. Some parents skip over stages while others remain in one stage for an extended period. These stages are as follows:

    DENIAL: "There is really nothing wrong!" "That's the way I was as a child--not to worry!" "He'll grow out of it!"

    BLAME: "You baby him!" "You expect too much of him." "It's not from my side of the family."

    FEAR: "Maybe they're not telling me the real problem!" "Is it worse than they say?" "Will he ever marry? go to college? graduate?"

    ENVY: "Why can't he be like his sister or his cousins?"

    MOURNING: "He could have been such a success, if not for the learning disability!"

    BARGAINING: "Wait 'till next year!" "Maybe the problem will improve if we move! (or he goes to camp, etc.)."

    ANGER: "The teachers don't know anything." "I hate this neighborhood, this school...this teacher."

    GUILT: "My mother was right; I should have used cloth diapers when he was a baby." "I shouldn't have worked during his first year." "I am being punished for something and my child is suffering as a result."

    ISOLATION: "Nobody else knows or cares about my child." "You and I against the world. No one else understands."

    FLIGHT: "Let's try this new therapy--Donahue says it works!" "We are going to go from clinic to clinic until somebody tells me what I want to hear.!"

    Again, the pattern of these reactions is totally unpredictable. This situation is worsened by the fact that frequently the mother and father may be involved in different and conflicting stages at the same time (e.g., blame vs. denial; anger vs. guilt). This can make communication very difficult.

    The good news is that with proper help, most Learning Disability (LD) children can make excellent progress. There are many successful adults such as attorneys, business executives, physicians, teachers, etc. who had learning disabilities but overcame them and became successful. Now with special education and many special materials, Learning Disability (LD) children can be helped early. Check out the CDI Resource Center for possible helps for your child. The list of celebrities with learning disabilities includes: Cher, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Mozart, Bruce Jenner to name a few.