Identifying learning disabilities in Children

Dyslexia is often referred to as a ‘hidden disability’, because its symptoms are often not manifest ‘externally’. Some young people go through their schooling years without their learning disabilities being identified – they struggle, they become frustrated, they underachieve. This highlights one of the key issues regarding dyslexia – importance of early identification. There are tests and screening procedures for early identification and it is important that these are utilised to enable a comprehensive assessment of a student’s strengths and weaknesses. In particular, there are multiple challenges that can co-occur with dyslexia such as dyscalculia, dysgraphia, processing speed deficits, executive functioning issues, visual processing deficits, phonological processing issues, memory and retrieval deficits. All these challenges need individualised, structured and cumulative remedial intervention which can be best facilitated with an early diagnosis.

Additionally, reading skills are, perhaps, more critical today than two decades ago. There were more vocational options available then, which were not as reading intensive. With the demands of computer literacy, information boom on internet and fast paced technological innovations, the student of today has greater pressures to be academically successful with high ranking university qualifications. This strengthens the need to support the child with learning disability for his /her early school years.

Finally, while learning disorders impact 2- 10 % of the school –age population, the chance of comorbidity with, at least, one neuro-psychopathology is 62.2%. This includes ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, Developmental Coordination Disorder, and Mood Disorder. Understanding the comorbidity is crucial because it enhances the expression and severity of the clinical picture, often requiring specific treatments and interventions. For such individuals, negative school experiences and difficulties in peer socialisation often lead to poor academic and social outcomes

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Mala Mehta

Mala Mehta

Special Education Needs Coordinator
Aditya Birla World Academy