What are Learning Differences (LD)?
Students who have learning differences are those who learn differently to typical students in the classroom because of a neurologically-based difference in their brains, making it difficult to acquire core literacy and numeracy skills. The number of students with this neurological difference is estimated to be between 10 and 15 %, meaning that in every class, there will be at least 3-4 students who will struggle to learn when taught with conventional methods. Learning Differences may also be known as Learning Disabilities or Specific Learning Disabilities. LD are not the result of laziness or poor intelligence.
Early identification of learning differences is important to allow provision of support for the student. Lack of identification and poor management of learning differences can cause severe anxiety in children, even leading to depression in students as young as 7 years of age. Identification of a learning difference is usually liberating for a child because there is a reason for their difficulties, and they come to understand their brain works differently to others - they are not “dumb”, “lazy” or “stupid”.
Here is a brief overview of the main learning difficulties frequently diagnosed.
Dyslexia is a disorder that affects language processing: reading, writing, spelling and speaking. Information is processed differently. For example, letters may be reversed, word order in sentences changed, words may move on the page, words or letters may take on a three dimensional appearance. The person may have difficulty reading from left to right or tracking down a page. he/she may have difficulty understanding abstract ideas, even jokes or puns.
Dysgraphia is a disorder that affects writing, spelling and handwriting. The person with dysgraphia will often find it difficult to write his/her thoughts on paper although he/she may communicate well verbally.
Dyscalculia is a disorder that makes math calculations, the memorization and application of math facts difficult. Ther person finds the processing of numbers extremely difficult.
Dyspraxia is a disorder affecting motor skill development. People with dyspraxia experience difficulty in areas that require fine motor skills.
Executive Function disorder affects a person's ability to plan and organize, to strategize and momorize, as well as to order space and time. People with this disorder find it difficult to use past experience for present situations and tasks.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) is different from LD. Although both are neurological in nature, LD is treated with educational and behavioral methods and ADD/ADHD is often treated with medication and therapy. ADD/ADHD affects a student's ability to focus and maintain focus, to control impulses, to control activity level.