AdviceArticles

Learning disabilities…it is a real condition, but one that many people cannot visually confirm. But by no means does this mean that people with a learning disability are all painted with the same brush, or cannot learn in any capacity. We will be talking about learning disabilities in this blog, and what it means to those who have it.

What is it exactly?

It is a neurological disorder. To describe it easier, it is just the way the brain is wired differently. Children or adults with learning disabilities are as smart (or possibly smarter) than their peers. However, they have difficulty reading, writing reasoning and sometimes they have problems with their organisational skills.

A learning disability, like autism and down syndrome, cannot be cured or fixed. However, with the right support and intervention, a child with a learning disability can definitely succeed in school and in their careers later in life.

People with learning disabilities are not mentally sick, retarted or stupid – they are just wired in a different way. Some common learning disabilities are: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia. Sometimes a learning disability is combined with ADHD, but the two disorders are not the same.

People with learning disabilities do not learn certain skills as quickly as other people and may therefore need extra help in certain aspects of their lives. The specific skills in question will depend upon the type of disability. People with mild learning disabilities may live alone, travel independently, and work. They may not require any support from their local authority, or may just need support in managing their finances. Other people may require more regular support to ensure their safety and health on a daily basis.

The most important thing to us at Brownies&downieS is how we all respond to children and adults with learning disabilities. When interacting with them, it is important that you find, understand and focus on their strengths. Reward them for the things that they do well instead of focusing on the things that they cannot do. Each person is unique, and it is important to find a way of using their strengths to influence their weaknesses in some way. Focus and encourage your child’s interests outside the classroom: remember that in this day and age; experiences, personal development and skills training are all legitimate learning techniques that your child could possibly excel in.

Knowledge is Power

  • Dyslexia – a language-based disability in which a person has trouble understanding written words. It may also be referred to as reading disability or reading disorder.
  • Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.
  • Dysgraphia – a writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.

Our Viewpoint

Furthermore it is very important that you talk to you child about his or her learning disabilities. Emphasise that they are not dumb, nor lazy – that they are an intelligent person who has trouble learning, and that there are many different ways to learn. Re-enforce that even if their mind processes words or information differently from others, this doesn’t mean that they cannot learn what everyone else is. Everybody is different. Have confidence that they will succeed, and communicate this to them on a regular basis.

It is not easy to talk with your child about a disability that you do not fully understand. Be informed. It is important to be honest and optimistic – explain to your child that they struggle with learning, but that they can learn. Focus on your child’s talents and strengths.

A wise man once said: “We all have a disability of some kind.” And if you think about it enough, you will realise that my weakness may be your strength. Accept this fact, embrace your child’s difference, and help them to understand their own disability to improve their own capability.

Written by: Wendy J.E. Vermeulen, Wade L. Schultz

Comments and questions should be directed to info@browniesanddownies.co.za