What is a Learning Difficulty?

A Learning Difficulty (LD) arises due to a neurobiological condition in the brain, largely in the areas of reading and writing, also listening, spelling, organizing, speaking, and recall.

Can my child be ‘cured’ of a Learning Difficulty?

LD is not a disease therefore it cannot be ‘cured’. It is a condition that the child has and with the right guidance at the right time, this condition can be managed extremely well.

Does my child have a mental deficiency?

NO! Like one who has poor eyesight and needs spectacles to wear, the child has a normal deviance of brain function. This creates a difficulty in accessing information through say, reading or listening. The child may function with an average or above average IQ.

What happened to children before we knew about Learning Difficulties? How did they get by without any help?

There are two parts to this:
• Several years back, the curriculum was not so vast and complex. What one learnt in the degree courses 25 years ago, students now learn in school
• Children then too, suffered from difficulties in learning but many of them went unnoticed and functioned at a drastically reduced potential. Those who couldn’t cope, fell by the wayside

What is the difference between ‘Learning Difficulty’ and ‘Learning Disability’?

None really. It is a question of semantics. A ‘Learning Disability’ implies that the child is responsible for the condition s/he has. This is not true. The reason such a condition hampers a child’s education is because the educational system does not provide equal opportunities to differently abled children.

A ‘Learning Difficulty’ would simply mean that the child has a difficulty in learning. It could be due to a number of factors. The popular term now used is ‘Special Needs’.

When one refers to a Learning Difficulty, it generally is the Specific Learning Difficulty (SLD).

What is ‘Dyslexia’?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty. Dyslexia, along with Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia and others, are all hidden difficulties, in that they cannot be seen externally and one would have to know what to look for to spot them. It is important to note that none of these specific learning difficulties are water tight in the presentation of symptoms

How is a Specific Learning Difficulty diagnosed?

The presence of SLD is diagnosed by carefully considering the history of the student and then by running formal tests. All the information has to be understood holistically. Issues like opportunity, emotional problems, psychiatric conditions etc have to be ruled out along the way.

LD testing is done at Nair and KEM hospitals. Their certificate is approved by the board

What is the earliest that a child can be assessed for a Learning Difficulty?

Formal reading and writing begin at the age of six so that is when a formal assessment can take place. However, there are signs and symptoms that can indicate the child is ‘At Risk’ much earlier.

What are the signs that may indicate my child is ‘At Risk’?

Pre-School Warning Signs
• A late speaker
• Did not crawl on all fours – moved forward on the tummy or slid along on the bottom
• Clumsy – constant tripping, falling and hurting oneself
• Does not respond when called out to
• Loves being read to but makes no attempt at independent reading
• Difficulty in managing buttons and clasps
• Confusion in getting the correct shoe on the correct foot
• Lack of eye-hand co-ordination as in ball playing and other games
• Unable to keep time with a certain rhythm like clapping hands to a beat.
• Confusion over directional words – up: down, in: out

One needs to be concerned when a ‘cluster’ of symptoms is present over a sustained amount of time like 6 months or more.

What are the signs that would indicate my school going child possibly has a learning difficulty?

Signs of a learning difficulty in school going children:
• Reluctance in reading and/or writing
• Confusion with orientation of letters and numbers. Still sees ‘b’ as ‘d’ and ‘9’ as ‘6’
• Confuses words like ‘no’ for ‘on’
• Difficulty in remembering sequences like tables, months of the year and days of the week
• Messy page work – writing off the line and/or with lots of scratches and erasures
• Difficulty in reading what he/she has written
• Appears very bright and alert but class work is a shambles
• Frequently displays surprising skills in a particular area
• Confusion about the order in pronouncing words. ‘Forgot’ is spoken as ‘gotfor’ or ‘animal’ is spoken as ‘aminal’

When should a parent approach Nalanda - Aditya Birla Education Trust?

• If referred by School counsellor/ principal.
• If the above mentioned symptoms are noticed.
• If diagnosed by any Clinical psychologist after testing.
• When tested by Nair/KEM hospital with LD.

How can Nalanda - Aditya Birla Education Trust be a division for their student program for Learning Difficulties?

• The Nalanda - Aditya Birla Education Trust Chapter- Educational Facilitation Program started with two students and has supported over a 1000 Students to date. The Program enables students who are unable to cope with conventional teaching methodologies in schools, to continue with their studies and ultimately return to mainstream education.
• Individual attention to students in the class by trained teachers using multi- sensory techniques.
• Notes & Workbooks prepared by our trained teachers for NIOS & SSC with concessions for LD.
• Students with LD get concessions from the SSC & NIOS board.
• Personal attention is given to each child.
• Learning becomes easy through remediation.