Learning Disabilities - Early Childhood Development Challenges
Early childhood learning disabilities are developmental problems which can impede a child's progress physically, educationally and socially. Many such developmental disorders in children can be managed, thereby allowing such children to achieve normal educational standards and have healthy social lives. In the case of extreme disability, a child may be affected by the consequences of a development disorder or childhood mental retardation all the way into adulthood.
Types Of Learning Disabilities
There are a number of childhood learning disabilities, some which affect language acquisition, some of which affect behavior, and some of which affect just about every aspect of a child's life. Fortunately, awareness of such disabilities is growing among doctors, mental health experts and educators, meaning that strategies for overcoming these problems are being developed all the time.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has become quite a well-known childhood learning disability in recent years. Diagnoses of this disorder are on the increase, but it's not yet clear whether that's because awareness of the condition is growing, or the number of affected children is. There are two basic sub-categories of ADHD, the attention-deficit kind, which makes it difficult for a child to pay attention and concentrate (no surprises there) and the hyperactivity kind (which leaves kids literally unable to stay still and stay focused). In either case, a child is likely to demonstrate unpredictable and at times bad or even violent behavior, and will probably have problems adapting to the routine and demands of a classroom environment. Some kids are affected more severely than others.
ADHD Causes And Treatment
It's not yet known exactly what causes ADHD disability in children, although there is believed to be a link to fetal alcohol syndrome (when a mother drinks heavily during pregnancy, and the baby is born suffering from the effects). Treatment usually involves a combination of mood-changing medications (the most famous of which is probably Ritalin), psychotherapy and behavioral therapies. In some cases, it isn't necessary to treat a child with drugs. Managing childhood ADHD is a team job - doctors, parents, siblings, teachers and mental health professionals will all be needed to help to find a solution for each individual ADHD child.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that reduces a child's ability to process text and sometimes numbers too. Some dyslexic people say that words and letters seem to swim around the page, this makes it very difficult to read write, and spell correctly. Somewhere between 4% and 8% of kids are estimated to have dyslexia. The condition is life-long, and although the exact causes aren't known, some experts think there are two main ways that children end up with the condition - they either inherit it genetically (i.e. they're born with it) or they develop it after suffering from a childhood ear infection which somehow affects brain function.
Childhood Dyslexia Treatment
There is no cure for childhood dyslexia, but some improvements can be made by giving a child special training in phonetics and making sure he learns in a class with a teacher who is aware of and knows how to handle his condition. Dyslexia sometimes results in low self esteem, so counseling may be required to boost a child's self-confidence. Parental support and involvement in the learning process is essential.
Childhood autism is another learning disability which appears to be on the rise. The severity of the condition varies massively between kids. Some autistic children display some mildly socially awkward traits (such as commenting negatively on someone's personal appearance to their face), whereas the most severely affected kids may never learn to speak or communicate in any way with other people. This is what's called the autistic spectrum disorder. Asperger's syndrome is thought of as the condition at the mildest end of this spectrum.
There is no cure for childhood autism. This is another condition which has to be managed and may require a team effort to do so. Autistic children may need special education arrangements and in some cases will never achieve the development milestones that other children do. On the other hand, some autistic people discover that they have particular skills in certain areas (such as memorizing large quantities of information) which make them suitable for particular careers as adults.
Learning Disabilities In Adolescence
Adolescence is a difficult time for any young person due to the emotional and physical changes it involves. Coping with a learning disability during this time can make things doubly difficult. Many teenagers don't like to share their emotions with their parents at this time, so make sure that your child's teacher is aware of, but discreet about his problems, and keep an eye out for any self-esteem issues or symptoms of depression.