Learning disabilities, sometimes also known as disorders, pertain to different forms of learning problems that can be detected as early as childhood. It is not an issue on the intellectual capacity of a child or the motivation to learn because some children with learning disorders are as smart as any other regular kid. What makes a child with learning disabilities unlike any other children is that the child’s brain is wired differently. Learning disorders affects the way children receive, process, and use information and involves problems with reading, writing, speaking, listening, and answering math problems.
Understanding that a child has a learning disorder can be a frightening thought for parents. One of the first few ideas that would come to mind is how the disorder will affect the child’s future, including how the child will fare in school. However, one thing that must be remembered is that having a learning disorder does not equate to unintelligence. In fact, some people with learning disorders are as smart, if not smarter, than others. They only have to be taught in methods that are specific to their learning style or that which can help them absorb information the best possible way (Logsdon).
Learning disabilities may be in the form of difficulties in reading, writing, or listening. Some have trouble answering Math problems and find difficulty in counting numbers. The signs of a learning disability vary from one child to another. Some children may love books, but have difficulty understanding mathematical problems. Some children love listening to stories, but reading is a struggle for them. Still, there are children who have difficulty understanding what other people are saying verbally, but can read very well. While it may be difficult to pinpoint one symptom as solely the sign of a specific learning disability, there are warning signs that are common than others. For instance, for very young children, troubles in pronouncing words or finding the right words to say could be a symptom of a learning disability. The same thing when a child finds it difficult to learn the alphabet, colors, numbers, and shapes. Difficulty in controlling how they hold crayons or pencils could also be a sign of a learning disability as well as connecting letters with the sound they make (Logsdon).
Children who suffer from learning disabilities now have easy access to gadgets and technologies that help their educational requirements. Through advances in technology, these children learn to overcome their disorders and become productive members of society. Assistive technology helps children and adults with learning disorders to succeed in the mainstream world by providing them with educational and career opportunities. In an interview with Katherine Gray, a mother of a 9-year old girl who suffers from dyslexia, she expressed her gratitude to her daughter’s school for providing the children with devices that help them understand the lessons easily. For instance, in her daughter’s class, the classroom is equipped with voice synthesizers, screen magnifiers, pencil grips, talking calculators, and speech-to-text gadgets, among others, that children use as part of their learning program (personal communication, February 16, 2014). While some of these tools and technologies were initially invented for use of persons with disabilities, the good thing is that even those suffering from learning and sensory problems gain from using these technologies (Behrmann).
As a parent, Katherine would like the teachers to be more open when it comes to giving feedback about children’s progress in school, especially how their children respond to technologies available now to children. According to Katherine, she would like to support the school’s efforts in providing technologically advanced gadgets at home. For children with delayed speech problems, Katherine says she’d like the school to continually evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching system, including the software and the gadgets, on a quarterly basis. Katherine says the purpose of this is to ensure that gadgets are in good condition always and will not pose harm to their children’s health. While she agrees that teachers are highly knowledgeable about the use of the gadgets, she wants to encourage teachers to improve their assessment methods in terms of whether a student is really learning and improving his or her listening and speech skills. Katherine says that if a child shows improvements and a readiness for higher learning, then it is probably the best time to move the child to another device that would further enhance his or her skills. For children with hearing disabilities, a great improvement is when the child can already move away from the listening gadgets and independently use hearing aids (heatherschulte).
Furthermore, Katherine shares that a good way to assess a child’s readiness to move to a different device is, for instance, in the case of her child, if she can spell words independently, form words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs, then the teacher could already start her off to using a more advanced reading and spelling device. She also encourages a more participative interaction between the school administrators and the children by gathering student feedback on their experience using the specific gadget and how they think their level of self-confidence have increased from the time they attended school. If no apparent improvements are noticeable, then other interventions may be necessary.
Behrmann, Michael. “Assistive Technology for Young Children in Special Education: It Makes a Difference.” Edutopia. 1998. Web. 16 February 2014. <http://www.edutopia.org/assistive-technology-young-children-special-education>.
Heatherschulte. “A List of Assistive Technology Used in the Classroom.” Bright Hub Education. 2012. Web. 16 February 2014. <http://www.brighthubeducation.com/special-ed-inclusion-strategies/76087-a-checklist-for-assistive-technology-for-special-needs-students-at-school-and-home/?cid=parsely_rec>.
Logsdon, Ann. “Top 8 Tips to Recognize Early Signs of Learning Disabilities.” n.d. Web. 16 February 2014. <http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/learningdisabilitybasics/tp/SignsofLD.htm>.