An estimated four million people have been identified with various types and degrees of learning difficulties (Lyness, 2013). A significant majority of them tend to cope with more than one type of learning difficulty. Learning difficulties can be considered as neurological challenges that affect the way and manner which the individual’s brain receives, process, stores and subsequently analyzes information. Learning difficulties can primarily be diagnosed in schools since they affect an individual’s reading, writing and mathematical skills (Vaughn et al, 2003). Subsequently, some cases cannot be diagnosed until the individual reaches higher level of education or in some cases starts working.
It is hence, imperative for alternative methods of learning to be adopted for such individuals as well as meet their needs. Learning difficulties may be identified as mild or severe which can subsequently impact the academic performance of the individual. Adopting behavioral teachings that are specifically designed towards addressing the individual’s learning difficulty can help improve the condition (Pantino, 2014).
In this article, we evaluate the concept of learning difficulties as well as addressing the types of learning difficulties. The symptoms of learning difficulties will be identified and discussed whilst evaluating strategies to help overcome difficulties in learning.
DIFFICULTIES IN LEARNING
Individuals with difficulties in learning are often as smart as their peers. Usually considered as out–of–the–box thinkers, individuals with difficulties in learning are usually identified to approach challenges in unique and unexpected ways (Barth et al, 2008). With the right kind of accommodation and support, such individuals can employ very creative strategies to learn and solve everyday problems. It is hence, not surprising to identify a tall list of rich and successful business leaders and entrepreneurs who were identified to have difficulty in learning. It is imperative to know that difficulty in learning does not bar individuals from transiting into successful adult life where they are able to have the in relation to social, emotional and educational life.
Often termed as ‘Hidden Disability’; a person with difficulty in learning may have average to above average intelligence with majority of them hiding the challenges. This contributes to the late delay in identifying them and getting them addressed. Difficulty in learning can subsequently be as a result of the gap between the potential of the individual to achieve and the ability to achieve. Learning difficulty can be verbal and non – verbal. The verbal aspect of learning difficulty affects the individual’s ability to read, write and process spoken and written words. The non-verbal aspect makes it difficult for the individual to process visual information or learn abstract concepts such as fractions. Difficulty in learning can also be impact the ability of the individual to focus or concentrate (Vaughn et al, 2003).
Learning difficulties have been classified as ‘Specific Learning Disorder’ by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This has been differentiated as impairment in reading, mathematics and written expressions. Males are highly diagnosed with the condition compared to females. The Learning Disability Association of America (2016) has listed the following specific learning difficulties:
- Dyslexia (affects reading fluency and comprehension, writing, speech, spelling and recall);
- Dysgraphia (Affects the individual’s ability to write legibly, consistency in spacing words, spell, compose, think and write at the same time.);
- Dyscalculia (affects the ability to develop math skills, understand numbers and learn math-based facts);
- Auditory processing disorder (difficulty in recognizing the difference between sounds, understanding order of sounds, recognizing source of sounds and differentiating between sound and background noise);
- learning processing disorder (difficulty to give meaning to sound groups to form words and sentences and difficulty to process expressive and receptive language);
- Non-verbal learning difficulty (this includes difficulty to interpret facial expressions and body language. This affects visual-spatial, motor and social skills); and
- Visual motor deficit (usually common in individuals with dysgraphia and nonverbal learning difficulty. It affects the comprehension of visual information, the ability to draw and copy, hand to eye coordination and the ability to follow along in text or on paper).
SYMPTOMS AND STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES IN LEARNING
Been diagnosed with difficulty in learning may initially be a relief but has the subsequent repercussion of being labeled by society or affect future plans as well as lead to impacting potential careers. There is a high chance of parents getting worried that their children may be successful in school. Mental health professionals, teachers and specialized professionals are able to work with students with learning difficulty (Pantino, 2014). Particular learning difficulty areas can be identified by the identified professional and a supporting specialized learning plan and strategy can be developed to help the students. Some of such strategies include the Special Education Needs (SEN) and the Individualized Education Program (IEP). These are aimed at adjusting the learning and education strategies to best fit the student’s strengths whilst accommodating the identified weaknesses. In cases where the individual’s educational needs cannot be met in the usual classroom or learning environment, the individual is relocated to a different class for an entire day’s activity or for a period of time. This helps the individual to receive specialized instruction (Pantino, 2014).
Individuals with learning difficulties tend to experience anger, frustration, anxiety and stress due to their condition. Frustrations may result due to low test score although the individual had extensively studied. There is also some level of anger and stress due to difficulty to comprehend assignments as well as resulting anxiety at the start of every new school year. Counseling and therapy session can be helpful to understand the individual’s emotional concerns whilst providing support. The individual can be taught effective coping mechanisms that help manage the difficulty and its resulting emotional issues (Christopher et al, 2012).
Occupational therapy helps individual with difficulty with motor skills. Educational therapy helps improve reading, writing and math skills. Speech therapy helps individuals with language-based and reading comprehension challenges (Pantino, 2014). The therapy helps improve the ability of individuals to understand and communicate in social situations. When individuals are aware of their learning difficulties, solution-focused counseling and therapy sessions can be very supportive and help improve their strengths. Group therapy and support groups as well as play therapy can be effective to help individuals improve their interaction skills (Barth et al, 2008).
Learning difficulties are very challenging in the growth and development of the individual especially in relation to the individual’s educational and social interaction skills. The growing number of people especially children with learning difficulties is a need for concern as this requires structures, policies and strategies being developed and implemented by governments on a larger scale to help provide adequate care for such individuals.
It is imperative to train more health professionals, teachers and other related professionals to help provide quality care and services for individuals with learning difficulties and that is one of the core objectives of London School of Management Education (LSME). There is the need to also educate society as well as rally for support for such individuals to be adopted into society.
Counseling and therapy are helpful strategies that have been identified to be helpful in dealing with individuals with learning difficulties. Emotional issues arising from learning difficulties have been thoroughly addressed through the use of counseling and therapy sessions at London School of Management Education (LSME).
If you study at London School of Management and Education (LSME) and you have difficulties in learning, please avail yourself to your Lecturer or any member of staff for the appropriate support to be offered to you.
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- Learning Disability Association of America (2016). Types of learning disabilities. Accessed from http://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities Date accessed: 12th May 2018
- Lyness, D (2013). Learning disabilities. Accessed from http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/learning/learning_disabilities.html#cat20167 Date accessed: 12th May 2018.
- Patino, E (2014). At a Glance: Therapies that can help kids with learning and attention issues. Accessed from: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/treatments-approaches/therapies/therapies-that-can-help-kids-with-learning-and-attention-issues Date accessed: 12thMay 2018.
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