Do you feel challenged in certain skills, such as spelling, calculation, speaking what is on your mind, writing and so on?
Ever thought that you may be suffering from learning difficulties (LD)? Well, the best way is to go ahead and determine whether you have an LD or the possibility of one. It is never too late to figure it out and work on it.
Dubai Women's College recently held a Learning Disabilities Forum to inform students, staff, teachers and other participants about various learning disabilities, the challenges they throw up and how inclusive education as a concept works.
Notes sat in for a workshop titled ‘A screening tool for identifying students with learning difficulties' conducted by Dr Steve Lydiatt, director, Centre for Disability Studies, Takamul.
What is a learning difficulty?
It is a serious problem in processing information related to reading, spelling, recognising, social skills and language. It is believed to be due to differences in the way the brain functions; the blood flow pattern is different. So, having a learning disability means that the brain processes information differently from most other students. Certain kinds of information gets stuck or lost while travelling through the brain.
How to determine learning disabilities in general
- Difficulties in listening;
- Problems in focusing attention;
- Difficulties in storing short-term-memory;
- Difficulties storing information in the brain;
- Difficulties retrieving information that is stored.
How can a student determine whether he/she has a learning difficulty?
- He or she has trouble reading;
- Trouble remembering what he or she has read;
- Trouble trying to explain things;
- Has a problem finding words; has to stop and look for words;
- Has problems in spelling;
- Gets easily distracted by noise and movement around him/her;
- Has problems remembering the multiplication table.
Students with leaning difficulties - what help should they seek?
They should consult the learning resource teacher in their school/university; there are also some social organisations where they can go and seek help.
What is the best age for early intervention?
The best age for intervention is between the ages of four-and-half and six-and-half. The later, the intervention the hardest it gets to deal with the problems, because at an early age kids are more flexible and haven't yet developed emotional problems.
Who should work to help solve these problems?
Parents, school and whoever is directly responsible for dealing with these problems.
Should students with learning difficulties be in an inclusive learning environment?
It has been proved that they should be in an inclusive learning environment, because it is better for the whole being of the students, from the social side and the emotional one. Of course some mild adjustments will have to be made in the classroom.
What is the difference between learning difficulties and learning disabilities?
The degree of the problem differs from one to another. Severe cases are considered learning disabilities, while mild cases are considered learning difficulties.
Can students completely overcome learning difficulties?
Learning difficulties are a lifetime challenge; however they can be reduced with the right training.