Learning problems

What does it mean?

Many children have difficulty with reading, writing, or other learning-related tasks at some point.Learning problems in children can happen because of a range of reasons.

These problems could arise because of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of mental retardation; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages.

It is normal for stress to cause a child to be upset. To see if someone needs professional help to deal with these symptoms, it is important to compare the child’s current response against his/her long-term response to stress. If he or she doesn’t get better say within a month or so or if the child has severe reactions, it would be useful to seek professional care.

One of the reasons for learning problems could be learning disability. Learning disabilities are neurological processing problems. These problems make it difficult for a student to learn as quickly as someone who isn't affected by learning disabilities.These disabilities can interfere with a person's ability to concentrate or focus and can cause someone's mind to wander too much.

What are the common symptoms?

The following symptoms may signal that a child has a learning disability:

  • Dislike of or difficulty with reading
  • Poor handwriting
  • Difficulty with math
  • Difficulty organising thoughts to express what they want to say
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble with coordination
  • Difficulty with language such as following directions, remembering words, rhyming, and expressing oneself
  • Difficulty with reasoning
  • Difficulty with spelling
  • History of delayed speech

Why is an evaluation important?

If learning problems are suspected, it is important to get an evaluation done to establish the cause of the problem and put measures in place to help the child.

Additionally, if learning disability is established as the cause, it is important to get a thorough psychiatric evaluation to rule out conditions, which co-occur frequently with learning disability.Children with learning disabilities may become frustrated, lose interest in school and avoid challenges. They may have low self-esteem. It is also common for children with learning disabilities to have social problems.

What is the role of parents?

As a parent, support your child in getting adequate help and assist with positive learning experiences. The goal is to focus on your child's strengths. The child’s self-esteem is not going to be affected, if his/ her skills and passion are encouraged.

When do the symptoms present?

Symptoms can present early in child’s life in the form of delay in spoken language and other language related problems. They are most often recognised during the primary school years either by the teachers or parents or family doctor.

How is the assessment done?

The assessment involves more than one standardised test or procedure.

All the stakeholders including psychiatrist work together to establish the diagnosis and treatment plan for children with learning disabilities. The sooner learning disabilities are detected, the better, so the child can start receiving the help he or she needs.;

What are the effective treatments for learning disability?

Treatment consists of effective learning strategies, and psychiatric input to medically evaluate and treat co-existing disorders. Psychiatrist also provides psychological support to the child and the family.

How should clients/ parents prepare for the visit?

It is useful for an assessment to happen with someone who knows the child well (preferably parents) and get all the previous reports of any testing for the appointment.