Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) is a 'neuro-developmental' disorder that leads to difficulties in the acquisition of academic and scholastic skills. 'Neuro' in 'neurodevelopmental' suggests that the disorder has biological origins and 'developmental' implies that the condition has the onset in the developmental period (0-18 years).
Here are a few pointers to help you give an idea of what is SLD and how you may be able to identify it:
- 'Specific' Difficulty to Acquire Academic Skills: The learning disability is called 'specific' because it leads to difficulty and consequent impairment 'specifically' and particularly in the areas of academic and scholastic tasks, example: difficulty in spellings, inaccurate word reading, difficulty in comprehending the meaning of what is read, frequent grammatical errors in written expression or difficulty in acquiring mathematical facts, etc.
- Apparent in School Years: Learning Disability is mostly apparent in early to middle school years. However, the difficulty may remain 'hidden' until the learning demands imposed on the child exceed his/her learning skills and capacity.
- Learning Disability Does NOT imply lack of intelligence: Children with Learning Disability often have average to above-average scores on Intellectual Quotient (I.Q.) which suggests that they are well-adaptive in their day-to-day life demands, and have competent skills in other areas of life like social responsiveness, interpersonal skills, creativity, and reasoning. Often times, these children have potential in areas other than academics (like art, sports, music, etc), which may go untapped due to overemphasis on their scholastic backwardness.
- Requires Special Interventions: Since children with learning disabilities are 'wired' in a different way, they benefit from the information that is presented in specialized, innovative ways. Here, special educators come to the rescue who are trained to impart education to children with differential needs so that they are able to process it effectively and enhance their academic functioning.
- Accommodation and Inclusive Measures: Many state and national boards (like C.B.S.E.) have recognized Learning Disability and have introduced inclusive measures so that the children having such difficulties are evaluated in an inclusive manner, for instance, children with Dyscalculia (difficulty in mastering mathematical facts) may be exempted from the subject and given the option to have practically oriented courses like: 'Hotel Management', 'Information Technology' etc.
Building awareness about such unique disorders helps one understand that they are just 'diversities' that need to be catered in an inclusive fashion.
If you feel that your child is facing significant academic difficulty, do ponder on planning a visit to a clinical/child psychologist who may be able to assess and prepare a neuropsychological profile for habilitation and improved quality of life for both you and your child.