How Children Can Overcome Challenges Associated With Learning Disabilities?
Research suggests that a learning disability may occur due to genetic causes, neurological challenges, premature birth, poor nutrition or environmental factors.
Children face learning difficulties in reading (Dyslexia), difficulties in the language (Dysgraphia), difficulties in Math and calculations (Dyscalculia), difficulty in fine motor skills (Dyspraxia), difficulty in interpreting sound (Auditory Processing Disorder) and difficulty in understanding visual information (Visual Processing Disorder). Research suggests that a learning disability may occur due to genetic causes, neurological challenges, premature birth, poor nutrition or environmental factors. It is also important to note that these children have an average to a high IQ and therefore are not disabled, but just face difficulty with learning. Also, a learning disability cannot be cured completely. However, there are strategies that one can use to cope with.
Below are 12 ways to overcome these challenges:
1. Identify Learning Styles
Children have unique learning styles which can be identified by the following,
Auditory learner- who learns best by listening to sounds, music and audio tapes
Kinesthetic learner- who learns best by engaging in a movement like art and craft, sports and games
Visual learner- who learns best through visual aids, flashcards, highlighted content, videos and pictures
2. Seek the Right Therapy
An occupational therapist can suggest strategies for children who experience difficulty with motor skills. A speech therapist can help children who face challenges in language, reading and comprehension. An educational therapist can help children improve their skills in reading, writing and Math.
3. The use of Assistive Technology (AT)
Children can make use of assistive technologies like audiobooks, software programs for Math and English, graphic organizer tools, word prediction tools, tape recorders, talking calculators, optical character recognition software, proofreading programs, text to speech and speech to text software etc. These technologies will help students cope with challenges as well as ensure independent learning. However, it is important to take care of their body posture and eye health. Children must switch off and stay away from electronic gadgets for at least one hour before bedtime.
4. Achieve Goals with Hard Work and Perseverance
Sometimes, children may find certain areas of academics challenging even after putting in a lot of effort. It may take a little more time for certain strategies to work. The key here is patience and perseverance! Parents and teachers should help children set short term and long term realistic and attainable goals.
Timely feedback can be given on the status of the child’s progress while the child can reflect and ask for help if needed. E.g. goal of the day, week, month and year can be outlined.
5. Be Accountable
Children also need to take ownership, responsibility and accountability for their work. They also need to be open, develop understanding and acceptance when things do not turn out as anticipated. E.g. children can try learning a new concept, read a new text independently or learn one new spelling every day.
6. Identify Strengths and Passion
Developing talents and skill will create positivity and self-confidence. Engaging in a variety of activities like sports, dance, music, reading, writing etc. can help develop their passion. Being happy, energized and passionate in one area may help them excel in other areas including academics.
7. Rewards and Positive Reinforcement
Having a reward and reinforcement system in place can help children stay motivated. This system needs to be put in place in consultation with the student, teacher and parent. This will help in tracking academic progress. Rewards and reinforcements will differ according to their grade levels and will also be child-specific. It is important to fairly maintain this system and make room for alterations from time to time.
8. Take care of your Mental Health
Children with learning difficulties may face anger, frustration, self-doubt, anxiety and stress on account of everyday academic challenges. It is important to document their feelings both positive and negative. Speaking to the school counsellor or a mental health professional can help them deal with stressors, understand their own feelings and emotions and help maintain a positive self-image.
9. Who is your inspiration?
Children should be exposed to dynamic personalities who have also faced learning difficulties. Watching their videos or reading up on their biographies, success stories and life journey can be inspiring. Motivational and social stories should also be made part of everyday learning and introspection. Famous scientist, singers, politicians and celebrities have faced learning difficulties. Some of them are Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Whoopi Goldberg, Daniel Radcliffe, Jamie Oliver, Hrithik Roshan and Abhishek Bachchan.
10. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
It is important that children maintain a healthy lifestyle to enable focus and attention. Eating healthy food, getting the right amount of sleep, exercise and regular walks in the open will help to alleviate mood and energy levels. It is also important to follow a set routine to ensure regularity and discipline.
11. Seek Help and Support
It is vital to seek intervention and support from teachers and specialist before the situation becomes severe. Children with learning difficulties are given benefits like extra time, a writer during an exam and use of a calculator. Children should make the best use of these facilities. Children also require constant encouragement, social and emotional support, understanding and love.
12. Celebrate Success
Children need to recall and revisit their past success stories. They need to celebrate short and long term goals and milestones achieved along the way. Documenting their own success journey as well as sharing it with others will serve to boost their self-esteem.
Nurturing and developing good relationships in the classroom and everyday life is vital. Following the right values and engaging in problem-solving skills will help them make good choices. Being resilient, open-minded, balanced and flexible can help them work through challenges in academics and everyday life.
Students need to believe in their potential and unique capabilities which is their superpower.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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