Learning Difficulties & Disabilities

move to learn - SamSometimes there are apparently inexplicable blocks to learning which prevent intelligent children from reaching their potential in the classroom.

The blockages can be so difficult to pinpoint that no-one is aware of the real problem. Consequently, the frustrated and withdrawn behaviour which results is often blamed as the cause of the problem. Many times, the finger is pointed directly at ‘poor parenting’. The end result though, is that up to 20% of children are not achieving the academic results that their intelligence indicates they should be capable of achieving.

What is LD?

The initials, ‘LD’ are used for brevity and stand for the term ‘Learning Difficulties’ or ‘Learning Disabilities’. The group of people with this problem are also referred to as having ‘specific learning disabilities’, a more correct term, because it also infers neurological disorganisation.

Learning Disabilities have been defined as a problem in the acquiring of developmental skills, academic achievement, social adjustment and secondarily emotional growth and development as a result of perceptual and linguistic processing deficits. (Cruickshank, W.M., (1981).  Concepts in learning disabilities:  Selected writings, volume 2.)

The term LD does not include children who are not learning because of emotional problems, sickness or poor teaching. Among a number of other terms used to describe the problem are minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and attention deficit syndrome. Move to Learn chooses the term ‘Learning Difficulties’ to reflect the belief that the difficulties can be largely overcome. Barbara sees learning ‘as a pyramid, with basic skills being laid down at ground level and skills of increasing complexity being laid  down as each successive layer is added. Learning difficulties are seen as misshapen stones which distort the structure of the whole pyramid, each stone affecting not only the stones next door to them but also those in the layers above’. Dr Mary Lou K. Shiel, MBBS

By far the majority of children presenting with LD have problems in the area of integration. Complex tasks such as reading, writing and mathematics require quite sophisticated integrated neurological and physical activity and if a child is immature in this area, sophisticated activities will be stressful and slow at best.

Close links have also been identified between the inhibition of primitive reflexes and the attainment of gross-motor milestones. Primitive reflexes play a crucial role in infant and pre-natal survival, but should be inhibited as a child moves through normal child development. If this doesn’t happen, they can seriously impact on academic learning.