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Improve Literacy Newsletter

15 November 2010 -- Issue 27

Hi all,

Last month was Learning Disabilities month, so in this edition of the newsletter we are going to be looking at what learning disabilities are, and how you can identify if your child has one.

Let's get to the good stuff!

In this issue:

1. What is a learning disorder?
2. How to identify learning disorders in young children
3. 10 of the most common signs of a learning disability
4. Resources for more information
5. ALNF's Wall of Hands Appeal
6. Visit the Improve Literacy website

1. What is a learning disorder?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines a specific learning disability as "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations".

The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia, and doesn't include "a learning problem that is primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage".

2. How to identify learning disorders in young children

The term 'learning disability' is very broad, and there are many different kinds. Most often they fall into these three categories:

- Reading disabilities (often referred to as dyslexia)
- Written language disabilities (often referred to as dysgraphia)
- Mathematical disabilities (often called dyscalculia)

Below are ten of the most common signs that are usually displayed by a child that has a learning disorder. Bear in mind that if your child shows any or some of these signs, it doesn't necessarily mean that he or she has a learning disorder - however, if several of these characteristics are dsplayed for an extended period of time, you may want to consult your child's teacher as a first step.

3. 10 of the most common signs of a learning disability

a. Your toddler is slow to reach developmental milestones. Look for an unusual lack of coordination, poor balance, and awkwardness when walking or moving. Does your child have difficulty in manipulating small objects, like tying a shoelace, using a pencil, or fastening a button? A child with these delays may also show slow development in speaking words and sentences.

b. Your child has trouble understanding the concept of time.

c. Your child has difficulty remembering facts.

d. Your child has difficulty distinguishing right from left and identifying words.

e. Your child is rarely able to sit still, and has excessive amounts of energy (otherwise known as hyperactivity).

f. Your child is accident prone, has poor co-ordination, and is unaware of physical surroundings.

g. Your child confuses basic words (e.g. 'cat', 'boy', 'dog').

h. Your child has frequent temper tantrums, and also has difficulty interacting with other children.

i. Your child seems not to want to listen, and is unable to concentrate on the task at hand.

j. Your child makes spelling and reading errors such as substituting words (house/home), letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w) and transpositions (felt/left).

4. Resources for more information

Here are a few websites that give some invaluable information on a wide variety of topics relating to learning disabilities. They are based in the US, UK and Australia.

LD Online

Kids Health

Reading Rockets


Learning Disabilities UK

Great Schools

Learning Disabilities Australia

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