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Learning disabilities are all conditions that result in difficulties to acquire and retain knowledge and skills to levels expected of people of the same age, especially where such conditions are not in any way associated with physical handicap. They encompass all neurologically-based processing problems which interfere with the ability of an individual to acquire basic skills such as writing, reading and/or math. In extreme cases, learning disabilities may also interfere with an individual’s higher level skills such as abstract reasoning, time planning, organization, attention, as well as long-term or short-term memory (Cortiella Candace, and Sheldon Horowitz 68). Most of the learning disabilities are looked at in terms of how they affect an individual’s capacity to pursue academics, but it is imperative to note that such conditions may affect the life of an individual beyond the academics, and can have serious negative impact on their interpersonal relationships. This paper will critically assess some of the most common learning disabilities and their unique manifestations.
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a learning disability that has adverse effects on how the sound travelling unimpeded through the ear gets processed and finally interpreted by the brain. According to Peijnenborgh Janneke (675), individuals suffering from APD generally exhibit the inability to recognize subtle differences between various sounds in words, even when the sounds have been made loud clear and enough to be heard. Such individuals may also find it difficult to make sense of the order in which the sounds are made, or even where they are coming from. Common symptoms include misspelling and/or mispronouncing words that sound more or less the same, slow processing of and difficulty in explaining ideas and thoughts, confusion by figurative language, and distraction by background noises and sounds. Some of the ways of handling individuals suffering from APD include showing rather than explaining, supplementing communications with intact senses such as signals, visual cues, manipulative and handouts, as well as teaching abstract word roots, vocabulary and synonyms/antonyms.
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Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that mainly affects reading skills, as well as a lot of language-related processing skills. The manifestation of this condition in its severe stages differs from one individual to another, but it mostly affects reading comprehension, recall, decoding, fluency, spelling reading, writing, and in some cases speech. Some of the common symptoms of dyslexia include reading painfully and slowly, inability to recall words, problems with math computations, wide disparity between reading comprehension and listening comprehension of given texts, poor spelling and difficulty with handwriting and written language among others (Peijnenborgh Janneke 668). Some of the strategies of dealing with individuals suffering from dyslexia include provision of a quiet environment for activities such as answering of comprehension questions and reading, using materials with not only large prints, allowing use of computers for in-class essays, teaching logic instead of rote memory, use of multi-sensory teaching techniques, and provision of copies of lecture notes.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a learning disability that mainly affects attention, focus and behavior. It often makes learning difficult. Although ADHD is not formally regarded as a learning disability, researches have constituently shown that 30-50 percent of individuals with ADHD also have a particular learning disability, resulting in two conditions which make learning difficult (Barkley 40). The condition becomes apparent in children during the early school years. Such children are mostly unable to control their behavior or even pay attention. It is estimated that up to five percent of children across the world suffer from ADHD. Some of ADHD’s principle characteristics include impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity. Three main subtypes of ADHD have been identified by professionals. They include predominantly impulsive/hyperactive type which exhibits no significant signs of inattention, predominantly inattentive type which does not significantly show impulsivity and hyperactivity, and lastly the combined type which displays both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive symptoms.
Language processing disorder (LPD) is a condition that mainly affects an individual’s ability to attach meanings to sound groups which make up words, sentences as well as stories. It is a type of the auditory learning disorder, but while other types of APD mostly affect the ability to interpret sounds that go into the brain, LPD is mainly related to the ability to process language. It can affect an individual’s expressive language, that is, what they say, and also the receptive language, that is, that capacity of an individual to understand and interpret what others say. Some of LPD’s common signs and symptoms include poor reading and comprehension, poor written output, inability to gain meaning from speech, difficulty in expressing thoughts verbally, and having a lot to say but being unable to say it (Gaddes William 119). Some of the strategies of handling individuals with LPD include speaking clearly and slowly and conveying information using simple sentences, provision of a support person, story mapping, note taking through tape recording, and use of visualization techniques which enhance both listening and comprehension.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability which affects an individual’s fine motor skills and handwriting ability. According to Berninger Virginia et al. (1128)An individual with this learning disability experiences problems such as ineligible handwriting, poor spatial planning on a piece of paper, inconsistent spacing, inability to compose writing, poor spelling as well as inability to think and write at the same time. It might take a long time to make such individuals learn how to write letters and words correctly in a consistent manner. Some of the common symptoms of dysgraphia include unfinished and omitted letters or words, strange body, wrist or paper position, slow or labored copying or writing, poor spatial planning on paper or other writing surfaces, and inability to pre-visualize letter formation.
It can be concluded that learning disabilities are various. They include, among others, auditory processing disorder (APD), dyslexia, dysgraphia, language processing disorder (LPD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These conditions exhibit certain characteristics, some of which are similar and others distinct. It is important for those living with individuals with given learning disabilities to be able to identify those learning disabilities by seeking the help of professionals, especially because of the similarity in some of the behavioral manifestations. This helps in developing the specific strategies of handling the individuals, as well as medically intervening in their conditions.
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