Learning Disability (SLD)

Orentsani N Kithan

Poor academic performance of your child or student could be due to several reasons – Below average Intelligence, poor teaching, unconducive environment for studying at home or school, emotional problems or it could be due to a disability affecting a child’s Reading, Writing or Arithmetic skills known as Specific Learning Disability (SLD).

According to DSM 5, the defining characteristic of Specific Learning Disability is “unexpected academic underachievement”. SLD affects children in three domains- Reading (Dsylexia), Writing (Dysgraphia) and Arithmetic (Dyscalculia). Current statistics shows the prevalence of SLD to be about 10-15 % in the general population (RCI). 

Here are some of the features seen in a Child with Specific Learning Disability with Impairments in Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

1. Impairment in Reading (Dyslexia)

*    Problems understanding words, sentences or paragraphs
*    Speech delay

*    Problems with pronunciation, phonetics and rhymes, figure-ground relationships

*    Confusion and mixing up between certain letters like, b-d. m-w, p-q

*    Reversal reading of letters and words - was-saw, on-no

*    Doesn’t like reading aloud, reads very slowly with lots of mistakes 

*    Reads below expected level

*    Missing lines and words in between

2. Impairment in Writing (Dysgraphia)

*    Poor handwriting

*    Mixing of capital and small letter words

*    Unusual pencil grip, strange wrist, paper or body position

*    Difficulty in copying

*    Overwriting, omission of words

*    Punctuation problems, poor spacing of words

*    Reversal writing – b-d, m-w, on-no etc

3. Impairment in Mathematics (Dyscalculia)

*    Difficulty in solving arithmetic problems and understanding mathematical concepts

*    Confusion with the abstract concepts of time and direction

*    Difficulty in doing simple sums

*    Poor number alignment

*    Poor mental math ability.

*    Difficulty in Number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions and reversals
*    Poor in word problems and number sequencing

*    Difficulty in following rules and steps in Maths

Thus if you find any of these features similar with that of your child/ student. Kindly make sure to send the child for appropriate testing and evaluation so that early diagnosis and intervention can be given. Children with Learning Disability also have problems with memory, attention and concentration, are usually restless or hyperactive and avoids studying or schoolwork. Numerous studies have shown that Children with Specific Learning Disability if undiagnosed or proper interventions not given are at increased risk of developing various emotional and behavioral problems like Self-esteem issues, Depressive and Anxiety Disorders, School drop-outs, Unemployment, Substance Abuse later in life.

Assessment and Diagnosis of Specific Learning Disability is the first step. Early and targeted intervention and Remedial Teaching by trained professionals can help the child improve his reading, writing or arithmetic skills.

The writer is Senior Psychologist, Developmental Pediatrics Department  CIHSR, Dimapur