According to estimations, learning disorders affect one of every ten people in the United States. These conditions are proved to be a result of genetic or neurobiological problems which lead to malfunctioning of a part of the brain, thus, affecting a certain cognitive process. These disorders may interfere with learning skills, such as speaking, reading, or writing, as well as causing problems with education and relations with family members and friends. There are different types of speech and language disorders, and for most of them, there is a special treatment that needs to be done to help the person. Today, people have many means to overcome certain development difficulties and have a successful life.
Learning disabilities are often confused with educational problems, though they are distinguishable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a list of symptoms that can help to establish a diagnosis. They are:
- Having no comprehension of right and left
- Reversing words, numbers, or letters
- Confusing patterns or having problems with sorting items by size or shape
- Being unable to stay organized or follow instructions
- Having problems with a short memory
- Having issues with coordination
- Having no comprehension of time (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020).
There are three fundamental kinds of learning disabilities: dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. Dyslexia is a disorder involving problems with reading and language-based processing skills. People suffering from dyslexia often have trouble with spelling, reading, word recognition, and identifying the sound structure of a spoken word. Dyscalculia is a disorder influencing the ability to distinguish numbers and learn math. Individuals having this type of disability lack quantitative reasoning. Dysgraphia is a disorder affecting motor skills and handwriting. People with this disability usually have difficulties with executive functions like organizing and planning. In addition, some disorders are connected with emotional and behavioral problems. It is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition causing difficulties with focusing and controlling behavior, and dyspraxia, a disorder making coordination and movement challenges.
Children with learning disorders usually need specific additional help from their parents and teachers. Schools usually test their students for disabilities and find whether a child needs extra support or not. In some cases, there is a need for a healthcare professional’s interference, especially with individuals having difficulties with controlling their behavior and emotions. In the United States, children with learning disabilities are under government protection. They have a right to “special education services or accommodations at school under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and an anti-discrimination law known as Section 504” (CDC, para. 7). Parents together with teachers and healthcare professionals have all the necessary means to help children with learning disabilities and make their lives successful.
There is another type of condition: language and speech disorders. Children start learning a language as soon as they are born. In the process of language development, there are two main stages: the pre-linguistics stage, which lasts from birth till a child is one year old, and the linguistic stage, which continues until eight years. Usually, by the age of fifteen months, a baby begins to use the words they have learned from their parents during the first year of their life. Most of them can use the language fluently when they are four or five years old, although, a few of them may have problems either with understanding or communicating.
Among the language disorders, there is aphasia, a problem, caused by a brain injury or peculiarities of its development, and an auditory processing disorder, a difficulty with defining the sound meaning. Speech disorders are divided into incorrect forming of particular words or sounds, and mistakes in pronouncing sentences smoothly. Moreover, experts highlight another disorder: a language delay, a condition when speech is developing slower than typically.
When a child stays behind their peers regarding language or speech skills, their communication is considered delayed. In case an individual is having such difficulties, it should be evaluated by an expert. The first important step is checking the hearing, as according to specialists, “hearing loss is a well-documented etiology of speech delay” (Sunderajan & Kanhere, para.3). The next step is addressing a specialist, a speech-language pathologist who will determine the types of problems a child may have.
A speech teacher has many universal techniques which may help a person to master necessary sounds, or overcome certain difficulties. Specialists have good knowledge of the structures and functions of the oral cavities, many of them know how to treat more complex disorders such as tongue thrust. A speech pathologist can teach a child to pronounce specific patterns, build up sentences and effectively communicate with others, control behavior to break through such defects as stuttering. A specialist uses pictures and different objects to stimulate language development by talking and playing with a child shows the way to correctly pronounce sounds, and making various oral exercises, including a special facial massage. Moreover, a good specialist will always work with parents to teach them ways of helping their children. Parents and therapists can work together to achieve a better result, this way they can help children overcome the difficulties.
In conclusion, learning disorders affect thousands of people in the United States. Usually, the problems are seen at school as most of them significantly influence the education process. However, sometimes a person is not evaluated even being an adult. Such conditions cannot be fixed, they stay with a person for a lifetime, although, in most cases, an individual with learning disorders is not different from others. It is important to remember that many learning disabilities can be successfully treated and a person may have a normal and successful life.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Learning Disorders in Children. Web.
Sunderajan, T., & Kanhere, S. V. (2019). Speech and Language Delay in Children: Prevalence and Risk Factors. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 8(5), 1642-1646. Web.