What Are Learning Disabilities?
As a learning disabilities psychologist, I often work with parents and children to diagnose a learning disability and then I help children and their families work through the learning disability.
In some cases, a child is not diagnosed with a learning disability but is struggling because he or she has a specific learning style, which is different from a learning disability. A learning style is indicative of a person’s optimum or preferred method for absorbing and retaining information. For example, some people will retain information better if it’s presented in audio format; others will have better retention through visual learning.
Learning disabilities, on the other hand, are neurological disorders that inhibit children from acquiring academic and social skills. Some of the most common learning disabilities are dyslexia (difficulty reading), dyscalculia (difficulty with math), and dysphasia/aphasia (difficulty with language). However, there is a wide range of learning disabilities and they can also appear alongside other, sometimes related, conditions. Learning disabilities are often associated with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and executive functioning difficulties.
Understanding Learning Disabilities
Understanding learning disabilities is essential for parents and teachers who want to support a child’s ability to succeed in learning and in life. It’s also critical for adults and children with learning disabilities to understand how their disability affects their daily lives and how they can successfully work through the challenges they face, often with the help of a learning disabilities psychologist.
Academically, learning disabilities primarily affect reading, writing, and arithmetic. Signs of learning disabilities in these areas are as follows:
- Reading: Children struggle at learning to read and have difficulty reading even after they have acquired the ability to read.
- Writing: Children have difficulty with spelling, handwriting, and organizing their thoughts in writing. A combination of motor and cognitive skills may be affected.
- Arithmetic: Math-related learning disabilities vary and are marked with significant struggles in learning math and solving mathematical problems.
It’s important to note that learning disabilities in reading, writing, and math affect other areas of study. Children who struggle with reading will have a hard time learning history from a textbook and those who have difficulty writing will perform poorly on written assignments and exams. Children with math-related learning disabilities will struggle in the sciences and economics.
Social and Emotional Impacts of Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities often go hand-in-hand with social and emotional difficulties. A variety of problems can arise from learning disabilities, including a sense of not belonging or being different. Children with learning disabilities may be susceptible to bullying. Teasing and chastising from schoolmates may cause severely low self-esteem.
Kids with learning disabilities are more likely to have trouble developing healthy relationships and may have trouble developing normal or healthy social skills.
Overcoming social and emotional difficulties can be an essential component of coping with a learning disability. Healthy relationships and strong social skills lead to improved self-esteem. Therefore, a learning disabilities psychologist often focuses on social and emotional health and well-being.
Dr. Kenneth Roberson is a San Francisco based learning disabilities psychologist with over 25 years of experience. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call 415-922-1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.