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Learning Difficulties What are Learning Difficulties? Learning difficulties are areas of weakness in brain function that affect a student’s ability to gain knowledge and skills at the same rate as his/ her peers. To have learning difficulties doesn't mean that the student is less intelligent, it just means that he/she learns things in a different way. People who have learning difficulties are gifted in some things but can struggle in other areas, which makes them frustrated. Students who have learning difficulties can have a very hard time in class. This is true especially if the teacher does not understand their learning challenges. They feel less intelligent than their peers and it can cause low self-esteem and confidence issues that may affect their entire future. What Causes Learning Difficulties? Some learning disabilities appear to be genetic, and others may be the result of illnesses, birth complications or chronic childhood ear infections, which can affect neurological development creating a learning disability. Occasionally, the health choices of a mother when her child is in-utero can lead to learning difficulties (e.g. foetal alcohol syndrome). Cultural deprivation or parenting and teaching styles can also contribute. Extended absence from school can cause gaps in foundational knowledge. Other times the cause is unknown. Types of Learning Disabilities : Dyslexia: difficulty with reading, writing, spelling and speaking. Dyscalculia: difficulty with solving math problems, understanding time, and using money. Dysgraphia: difficulty with handwriting, spelling, and organizing ideas. Dyspraxia: difficulty with muscle control and hand/ eye coordination. Dysphasia: difficulty with understanding spoken language and reading comprehension. Visual Processing Disorder: difficulty with reading, math, charts, symbol and pictures. Auditory Processing Disorder: difficulty with processing and making meaning of sounds. ADHD: difficulty with paying attention and staying on task these students can be easily distracted. Slow Processing Speed: difficulty with processing and using information at a pace that allows them to keep up with the class. Executive Functioning Issues: difficulty with planning, managing time and organisation. Non-verbal Learning Disabilities - difficulty with social skills and abstract thinking. Sensory Processing Disorder - difficulty handling various kinds of sensory inputs. What are Some Signs of Learning Difficulties? Problems with reading and writing Problems with math Difficulty concentrating and doing homework Difficulty with following directions Difficulty with memory Difficulty with telling time Difficulty staying on task Mood swings Extreme fatigue Weakness in organizational skills Problems following up on classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud Speech and verbal expression challenges How Do Learning Difficulties Affect Life? Different types of learning difficulties affect student’s lives in different ways. Social life Keeping and making friends Following rules Expressing emotions Understanding facial expressions Self-esteem and self-confidence Short term memory Focusing on goals Deciding what they like and don't like Determining directions and distinguishing left from right Managing time Feeling lonely Feeling guilty or a sense of failure because of being labeled as lazy even when they are trying their best Surviving every day How Can Parents Help Children with Learning Difficulties? Know your child well. Speak with your child using their love language. Have patience and grace with your child. Understand that learning difficulties cannot be ‘solved’ or ‘fixed’ overnight and that the development process takes time. Don't use accusing or negative language towards them. Advocate for your child in the school system, family and social situations - - Educate others about the needs of your child. Speak up on behalf of your child Spend time with your child and encourage them to speak about their daily life Encourage him/her to share about things they like and don’t like Spend quality time together Play games and have fun Believe and support your child as much as you can Help your child to develop problem solving skills and life skills Encourage her/him to try different things Study more about your child’s difficulties and research strategies to address their specific needs Focus on the child's strengths and use these to help support learning in difficult areas Practice and reinforce skills or information learned at school in the home environment as part of everyday life. See the big picture of your child’s life Be willing to persevere in order to protect your child and meet his/her educational, emotional and social needs How Can Teachers Help Students with Learning Disabilities in the Classroom? As a teacher to have students in your classroom with learning difficulties can be challenging but you also can make a big difference in their lives. Here are some ways that you as a teacher can help: Know your students’ difficulties. Spend time learning about them and researching how you can deal with them Learn specific classroom accommodations Learn to differentiate instruction and learning activities Develop an individualized learning plan which takes the students specific needs into account Show an accepting and positive attitude towards the student Recognize the difference between the students and don’t compare Make your directions and instructions very clear Learn how to encourage even for every small progress Remember that they may need extra time and support Use visual aids as much as you can and plan to use different teaching and learning styles in your classroom practice Define tasks that are appropriate for the child’s situation With all activities remember to demonstrate not just explain Make adjustments to course work Adjust assessment strategies and provide support that matches the child’s needs Reduce distractions in the classroom as much as possible Seat the child with difficulties near the front of the room so they can see and hear easily and not be too distracted by others Maintain good classroom management for a calm learning space Rule out vision and hearing impairments by having children tested early on Have regular and open communication with the parents and make sure they understand the strategies and programs you are using to help their child at school Get physical learning aids (e.g. weighted mats, sensory cushions, special seats) that are helpful for the child’s difficulties Provide opportunities for the child to succeed https://www.understood.org/pages/en/school-learning/for-educators/ https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/learning/conditioninfo/signs http://nild.org/learning-disabilities/causes-effects-diagnosis/ https://www.understood.org/pages/en/friends-feelings/common-challenges/ https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/skills-that-can-be-affected-by-dyslexia?_ul=1*1k3v7qy*domain_userid*YW1wLU1SdlJ2WEpnZ1VQazFFWldadnRXWkE. https://www.understood.org/pages/en/learning-thinking-differences/understanding-childs-challenges/