Pay Attention: These Traits Could Indicate that Your Child Has Learning Difficulties
Learning difficulties appear at a very early age and are often something that the child will have to learn to live with. Recognising them early is fundamental. Learn some of the characteristic traits of this condition.
Angelica is four years old and has just gone to school for the first time. In class, she doesn’t speak or share with other children. She also doesn’t seem to follow the teacher’s instructions. The school psychologist and the teacher arrange a meeting with Angelica’s parents because they can see that she possibly has learning difficulties.
In a short time, Angelica’s parents have been called into school on three separate occasions. At home, Angelica is talkative and interested in learning from her mum and dad. But this isn’t what happens at school.
The pressure starts to weigh down on Angelica’s parents and they take her to a neuro-pediatrician. After an assessment, the doctor says that there is nothing abnormal. Angelica is simply different from her classmates, as many children are.
A short while later a “miracle” occurs. Angelica starts to socialize, show interest in her lessons, and interact enthusiastically with her teacher and classmates.
Every child learns at their own pace
The story above has been experienced by many parents, children, teachers, and health professionals. Although it’s common to say “every child learns at their own pace,” it’s also very common for anxiety to make us see problems when there aren’t any.
Starting school brings all sorts of problems, but most can be solved in time.
Pre-school is fun, the children learn through play, and the teachers have a much closer and personal interaction with them.
As children grow up, their school subjects get more complicated, their work multiplies, and their school relationships take on new and different shades.
The child will become more conscious of their abilities and limitations. For some this is fine, for others, not so much.
When are learning difficulties detected?
There will be some professionals who say that the earlier you detect learning difficulties, the better. However, the truth is that with young children you run the risk of making a false diagnosis.
A specialist can give the diagnosis of a learning difficulty preferably when the child gets to the third year of school, which is around 7 or 8 years old.
Learning difficulties affect the processing of information. For example, a child may be slow to learn to read or write, and tends to have problems with mathematics. They may understand what it involves, but have difficulty managing to express it correctly.
This doesn’t just affect their school performance, but also their relationships with others, as well.
The first signs of learning difficulties
For children younger than 5 years old, we’ve detailed the signs of learning difficulties below. However, we must stress, do not despair. You must develop patience, observe your child, and see how they develop. The signs are:
- Having motor problems such as writing, tearing, walking, cutting, buttoning, zipping, or tying laces.
- They struggle to follow simple instructions and can’t carry them out.
- They have a delay in speaking, have pronunciation problems, and it’s difficult for them to learn new words.
- It’s hard for them to learn to read, understand numbers, the alphabet, days of the week, colors, and geometric shapes.
- They find it hard to concentrate or pay attention.
- They feel frustrated or unmotivated to do school activities or other family or social activities.
Indicators of learning difficulties in older children
- Not wanting to talk about their studies and spending a long time doing tasks.
- They bore easily and have no interest in school.
- Poor or aggressive behavior at school.
- They show signs of struggling to identify and express their feelings.
- They have difficulties sleeping or eating.
Children with learning difficulties
Children with learning difficulties have normal or above normal intelligence. However, they find it difficult to express what they know. Since they have problems learning certain topics, they often feel frustrated and annoyed.
These emotions can negatively impact their self-esteem. They can also come to suffer from depression, since they know what they want to achieve, say, write, or do, but it’s really difficult for them to do it.
In some cases, children with learning difficulties also exhibit special needs such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, or both. This doubtless helps an accurate diagnosis. They can also show difficulties paying attention, but this doesn’t mean that they have an attention deficit disorder.
How can I help my child?
- Learn and accept that learning difficulties are for life. However, remember not to worry about it. With the right help, your child will learn and grow to be happy and healthy.
- You child’s teacher can help to detect symptoms and create an appropriate learning environment, but they can’t give a diagnosis.
- A good diagnosis and opportune intervention will have a very positive impact on you child’s academic life.
- Tests to detect a learning difficulty are carried out by specialists: psychologists, child neuropsychologists, specialist pediatricians or psychiatrists.
- Children with learning difficulties still learn. You just need to focus on their abilities and preferences. This will build their self-esteem.
- Telling them off or punishing them will not work with these children. In fact, it could make the problem even worse.
- If your child throws a tantrum or cries because of their limitations, stay by their side. Tell them how much your love them and remember how much they have to try to do something which you know isn’t easy for them.
For mom and dad
Raising a child with learning difficulties is stressful. If you need help or psychological support, seek it. Your child will also benefit from mom and dad being well.
Please, don’t compare your child with learning difficulties with another child who doesn’t have them, especially not a brother or sister. You child will appreciate it.