Articles on learning

Learning About Learning Disabilities

Geeva Kamal raj
WHAT IS LEARNING DISABILITY ?Learning disabilities is a broad term which might look very different from one child to another.One child may struggle with reading and spelling, while another loves books but can’t understand math.Still another child may have difficulty understanding what others are saying or communicating out loud.The problems are very different, but they are all learning disorderNOW YOU ARE PROBABLY WONDERING WHAT CAUSES LEARNING DISABILITYNot me nor the experts know what actually causes learning disabilities, however, some of the possible causes for Learning disabilities include;Heredity : Learning disabilities often run in the familyProblems during pregnancy and birth : illness or injury during or before birth, usage of drug and alcohol while pregnant, low birth weight, lack of oxygen, premature or prolonged labour.Incidents after birth: head injuries, nutritional deprivation, exposure to toxic substance such as lead.SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF LEARNING DISABILITYIt’s not always easy to identify learning disabilities. And because of all the wide variations, there is no single symptom or profile that you can look to as proof of a problem. However, some warning signs are more common than others at different ages. If you’re aware of what they are, you’ll be able to catch a learning disorder earlyPreschool signs and symptoms of learning disabilitiesProblems pronouncing wordsTrouble finding the right wordDifficulty rhymingTrouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, days of the weekDifficulty following directions or learning routinesDifficulty controlling crayons, pencils, and scissors or coloring within the linesTrouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, learning to tie shoesAges 5-9 signs and symptoms of learning disabilitiesTrouble learning the connection between letters and soundsUnable to blend sounds to make wordsConfuses basic words when readingConsistently misspells words and makes frequent reading errorsTrouble learning basic math conceptsDifficulty telling time and remembering sequencesSlow to learn new skillsAges 10-13 signs and symptoms of learning disabilitiesDifficulty with reading comprehension or math skillsTrouble with open-ended test questions and word problemsDislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloudSpells the same word differently in a single documentPoor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized)Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloudPoor handwritingThe earlier detected…The better :)Until next time….Love, prayers and good vibes!

Symptoms of Learning Disabilities in Children

Dr. Vykunta Raju K. N, Neurologist
DefinitionDisorder of one of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an impaired ability to listen, speak, spell, read, write, think (e.g. planning) or to do mathematical calculations (not due to mental retardation [MR] or sensory deficits [e.g impairment in hearing, vision etc].Common Elements in the Definitionsü  Brain dysfunctionü  Uneven growth pattern/psychological processing deficitsü  Discrepancy between potential and achievementExclusion of other causesTypes of Learning Disordersü  Dyslexia– Difficulty in reading ü  Dysgraphia– Difficulty in writingDyscalculia– Difficulty in mathematical abilitiesEtiology - Often genes + disorderTobaccoAlcoholHead InjuryOtherMales predominateFamilialUp to 5-10% of "seemingly normal" schoolchildren have this hidden disability. Dyslexia affects 80% of all those identified as learning-disabled. SpecificLD is now believed to be a result of functional problem with brain"wiring" rather than an anatomic problem and is genetically inherited.Preschool children Language delayPronunciation problems Slow in acquiring vocabulary Difficulty in rhyming words Trouble with learning numbers, alphabets, days of the week, colors and shapesSchool-going children             Presenting problems-more commonly with school performance-difficulty is in one particular subject Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds Confuses basic words (run, eat, want) Makes consistent reading and spelling errorsTransposes number sequences &confuses arithmetic signs Poor spelling, slow reading Has difficulty in left right coordinationHas difficulty in tying shoe laces, organizing pencil box. Comprehension of these children is often superior to isolated decoding skills Reading Disorder(Dyslexia)  There is generally a combination of difficulties in the ability to compose written texts as evidenced by grammatical or punctuation errors within sentences, poor paragraph organization, multiple spelling errors, and excessively poor handwriting. This diagnosis is generally not given if there are only spelling errors or poor handwriting in the absence of other impairments in written expression.SlowComprehension defectsVocabulary limitationsLimited experienceFigure notations – complex and denseDirecting– dense, readability very high, in high distraction  positionSlowVocabulary limitationSpellingPunctuationOrganizationExperienceHandwriting– poor readabilityNote takingReading is very difficult ( + x )MultiplestepsPoor tool useSelf confidenceAnxietyWrittenOralEtiologyCourseFamilialCourseIQReadingrateStandardscoresComprehensionSpellingStandardscoreCan person read what they have writtenImpaired vision and hearing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) Mental Retardation Pervasive Developmental Disorders Communication Disorder Lack of opportunity, poor teaching Normal variations in academic achievement Anxiety Poor studying skillsConsensus ClinicalCriteria (CCC) for Diagnosis of Learning Disorders -adapted from DSM IV-TRIQ85 or more No vision impairment No hearing impairment Presence of adequate opportunity for learning with proper motivation GLAD score below 40%, at two levels below the child’s current class level Difficulty in reading / writing / mathematics that significantly interferes with academic functioning.Along with GLAD, Bender Visuo-motor Gestalt Test will be used to assess motor coordinationOnset during infancy or childhoodMost show a delay or impairment in developing functions and most undergo a steady course. Outcome depends on the severity of the disability, the age or grade when remedial education is started, the length and continuity of treatment, presence or absence of associated emotional problems, and parental and school supports. With appropriate remedial education and provisions,most children with LD can be expected to achieve academic competence and complete their education in a regular mainstream school. However, some children may still be unable to cope up and need to continue their education in special schools.1. Management of Primary Problem Remediation and AccommodationBehavioural & Psychological treatmentAllowing extra time A separate quiet room for taking tests   Alternatives to multiple choice questions Providing access to syllabi and lecture notes Tutors ‘talk through’ and review the ‘content’ of reading material Tape recorders and recorded books Allowing use of computers with spell checkersCalculatorRead problemWordprocessingSpell checker (right-click)NotesPhotocopiesInstructor OutlinesNote takerFolder for each subjectWhere are the classesLibrary– contact personScheduleSupportServiceCourse load – start slowDisability certificate. Extra time to write examinations, grace marks, supplemental writer during their examinations and also the facility of integrated as well as inclusive education. TheNational Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Mental Retardation andMultiple Disability, 1999, recommends promotion of inclusive education. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA, 2000), pledges to “ensure that every child with special needs, irrespective of the kind, category and degree of disability, is provided education in an appropriate environment".

Child Care: How to Help Your Child With a Learning Disability

Dr. Satish Erra, Homeopath
How to help your child with a learning disability:-Parents sit with their children while they do their homework, sometimes for hours.Between 4 or 5 percent of the population have one or more learning disabilities. This condition affects the way they take in, retain and express information. Having a learning disability can be frustrating for everyone involved.With proper diagnosis, modification of learning strategies, and a lot of patience and hard work, these challenges can be overcome. Frustration can be replaced with a new way of learning. There is hope.It is important to know what types of learning disabilities exist in order to determine if your child has a learning disability. Learning disabilities can run in families. If one member of your family has a diagnosed learning disability, there is a greater chance that other family members could have one as well.It is important to remember that a person with a learning disability has average or above average intelligence. They are not, however, able to achieve their academic potential without modification and accommodation in the learning environment.Since every person with a learning disability is unique, it is impossible to paint a static picture of every scenario. There are traits common to many people with learning disabilities.Common learning disabilities include challenges in one or more of the following areas:Oral or spoken languageMathematicsWritten languageLogical reasoning and memoryLearning does not need to be traditional to be successful. As you can see, there are a wide range of areas where a person may have difficulties learning. There are also a broad range of options for educationMany parents choose to keep their children in public schools. Many schools provide alternate learning strategies both inside and outside the classroom. Some parents, given their financial resources, choose private school.Because public education in the United States has a fairly structured framework, some parents choose to home school. When deciding to home school your child, make sure to find support from other parents using home education for their children with learning disabilities. This may or may not be the best option for your family.Working closely with your child can be challenging. But it can also provide insight into how they process information. You can gain a greater understanding of their mind and how it works.Your child is more than a diagnosis. When your child has a disability of any sort, it is easy to let the disability define the individual. This is especially true immediately following diagnosis. Try to avoid this. The disability is merely a part of who your child is.Learning may take more time. Since children with a learning disability are, by definition, functioning at average or above average intelligence, they may become frustrated with their own performance. Remind your child, their teacher and yourself that mastering material is not a race.The process of learning is as important as the goal. Remembering this can make the days go more smoothly. Be aware that some individuals become frustrated with their progress and are more prone to depression, or other similar mental health concerns.You are not alone. There are many prominent and successful people with learning disabilities. Telling your child about them can provide them a role model to look to when they are frustrated.If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, educate yourself. Be creative with your solutions and be patient with the progress your child makes. Children with learning disabilities are regular kids, they just need the right tools to help them succeed.

Health First, Medals Later

Dr. Rajat Chauhan, Physiotherapist
"There is a lot more to playing sports than simply winning."Encourage your child to play the sport he/she enjoysRecently, a father came to me with his eight-year-old son. He wanted his child to become a future world champion in badminton. He wanted me to assess and then address his son’s physical fitness, which he felt was lacking. I was given 18 months to raise the child’s fitness level to international standards. I loved the challenge because I thought I had full parental support and we were on the same page.Physical examination of the child suggested a medical problem in his lower back that was a result of excessive training for the sport with poor fitness levels. The child’s body simply wasn’t ready to take more stress at this point. When I informed the father that this problem could result in a serious problem for the child later, he did not seem very interested. His only focus was on creating a world-class athlete, not on his eight-year-old son who needed to be healthy first.It was also sad to note that the child wasn’t really very excited about the sport. He played it because his father wanted him to.Currently my son is playing in an under-7 cricket tournament. Parents of other children in his team, like me, have been very interested in getting the children to train together and also show up regularly to cheer the team. The first match was a one-sided game that my son’s team won but in the second match, his team was outplayed in all departments. Suddenly, during the second match, the behaviour of most parents whose children were playing in the same team as my son, changed. Most were unhappy about the team losing. Just before the third match, I was asked by a parent, “Why play if it’s not to win?”I felt that the parent was missing a very basic point. No one likes to lose. But there is a lot more to playing sports than simply winning. In the third match, the other team needed 77 runs to win in 10 overs. They made 41 in the first four overs, for no loss. Most parents on our team had given up hope, and we were a very silent bunch. But somehow, my son’s team pulled off a victory. Later the coach rightly pointed out that it was a victory for the children because it was their collective strength of character and spirit that pulled them through.But I feel this was a huge loss for the parents, because they didn’t have enough trust in their own children and their abilities and failed to back them till the very end.It is our responsibility as parents to instil the right traits in our children. Children should be encouraged to play or participate in the physical activities they enjoy. As parents we should push them, from time to time, to improve their game but this push should not be to a point where your child starts to dislike the sport or plays only to win.It is more important to encourage them to play so that they become healthy. My son thoroughly enjoys playing cricket and has no pressure from me whatsoever. It is no coincidence that he managed to be the whizz-kid of a match once. I believe it is simply because he has fun on the field.All I can say to the father who wants his son to be a badminton champion: Don’t try to live your dreams through your child. If you were good at a particular sport, but didn’t make it for whatever reason, it does not mean that your child has to take over from where you left. Sure, you are doing a great job by providing your child with the facilities you did not have when you were growing up, but that does not mean he has to succeed.For me, healthy and happy children, who are great human beings, are more important than world champions. In any case, you need to be fit to play sports, not just to win medals. In fact sports can teach children many things, such as respect for all team members, discipline, etc.It is ironical that sports can teach children all this and more but that parents, schools, coaches—basically the system—ignore this aspect of learning.

Nurturing Young Minds - The First Five Years of Child Development!

Dr. Sulata Shenoy, Psychiatrist
It is universally acknowledged that the first five years of life are probably the most crucial in an individual’s development. There is no other time in human life when so much is learned in so brief a period.  In our short – term concern for preparing the child adequately for formal academics, we sometimes tend to neglect the true nurturing of their minds.What do we mean by mental stimulation? What are the intellectual needs of the young child? To put it succinctly, it consists of giving children certain opportunities, which facilitate them to:make sense of the environment and adapt to its changing requirementshave as many experiences involving the senses communicate and express themselves  explore and experimentsolve problemscreateHOW DO CHILDREN LEARN? Anyone who has ever spent time with young children knows how strong their impulse is to see, hear, touch, taste and smell everything they encounter. This behavior illustrates a fundamental fact of early childhood experience. Young children learn best when they are actively involved, when they can handle materials and try things out for themselves.Early learning must, therefore be based on sensory experiences. Play is an indispensable avenue for learning.  The crucial value of play in the development of children’s thinking is yet to be fully appreciated by many of us.  Adults who have watched young children at play know the intensity and seriousness they often bringing to it. Play clarifies concepts and gives children opportunities to explore, to imagine and to translate experience into something meaningful to them. Play is the natural and most effective means through which a young child learns.Activity and play by themselves are not enough to enhance a child’s learning. Children need asocial environment with peers and adults to help them interpret or clarify their experiences and to relate new learning to their previous experiences and to assimilate new learning to their existing repertoire of knowledge. This type of social interaction is crucial. As a parent or teacher, how do you enhance a child’s learning ability?  Evidence from recent research suggests that the kind of dialogue or interaction which seems to help the child most, is one in which a caring adult engages with the child, enters the child’s psychological space, listens to the child, makes appropriate comments and helps clarify concepts.

Interaction With My Child: Quality vs. Quantity…What Works Best?

Mrs. Namrata Pai, Speech Therapist
The moment children have a Speech Delay, the first advice or tip a parent gets from extended family or professionals is to talk a lot to him/her! Keep talking to the child all the time! But is that enough? Communication is not non-stop and one-way like a cricket commentary :-) Research has shown that successful interaction mandates that the parent keep in mind the following:Interest of the Child: What is it that my child likes to do in his daily routine, his favorite toys and objects to play, which places he likes to go to etc.Repetition of the Language needed for the Child in Natural Daily Life Situations: One of the ways to do it would be using the key word to be taught to the child at least 5 times in that routine. E.g. soap needs to be repeated 5 times per day in the bath routine for a week and he would learn it faster than showing the child flash card of the soap once a day for 30 days.Changing his/her Interaction Style to suit the child’s needs: Not being the TESTER parent i.e. Constantly asking questions is a primary change that most of the parents need to adopt so that the child does not feel bombarded with questions. There are many such changes which a parent needs to borrow based on the child’s communication stage and personality.A competent QUALITY of interaction (especially for children below the age of 5 years) should involve all the three above in the daily routines of the child.But why daily routines? Well, that brings me to QUANTITY! The moment you change your quality of interaction in your day-to-day routine activities like when brushing your child, feeding, bathing, dressing him/her up etc. you are automatically teaching him to understand or speak key words in that routine on a daily basis. The whole experience of using the words in naturally occurring situations repetitively will make for a rich language-learning environment for the child.So Quality of the Interaction is Primary. It is important that parents are talking about what the child is looking at and interested in which will amount to both the parents and the child enjoying the process of communication, reducing the stress and anxiety for both.  Also maintaining the quality of interaction in daily routines will make sure that the child not only learns language but also uses it spontaneously in daily life situation/ routines. Unlike a skill like swimming that needs to be practiced only in one situation, as in water, Communication is happening all through the day in different situations and with different people."With improved interaction comes quality and repetition in daily routines comes quantity! "

To Build Skills, You Need More Than Medication

Dr. Tishya Mahindru Shahani, Psychologist
Sumit, a six year old boy (name and age changed) was referred to clinic because of over-active, inattentive, and disruptive behaviour. His hyperactivity and uninhibited behaviour caused problems in school. He would impulsively hit other children, knock things off his desks, and erase material on the blackboard, and damage books and other school property. He seemed to be in perpetual motion, talking, moving about, and darting from one area of the classroom to another. He demanded an inordinate amount of attention from his parents and his teachers, as he was intensely jealous of other children, including his own brother. He felt stupid and had a seriously devaluated self-image. Neurological tests revealed that there was no significant organic brain disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD), often referred to as “hyperactivity” is characterized by difficulties that interfere with effective task oriented behaviour—particularly impulsivity, excessive or exaggerated motor activity such as aimlessness or haphazard running or fidgeting, and difficulties in sustaining attention (Brodeur & Pond, 2001). Hyperactive people tend to talk incessantly and to be socially intrusive and immature. They have difficulty in getting along with their parents because they do not obey rules. Their behaviour problems are also viewed negatively by their peers. “I think for many adults with ADHD, therapy is essential,” says David W. Goodman, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University, school of medicine. While ADHD medicines are effective, they may not be enough, the person struggles with the disorganized habits, low self-esteem etc.The answer to these problems is therapy. Therapy with ADHD is not always a conservative traditional one; open ended talks don’t always work. Adults with ADHD often need practical concrete help; it’s the symptoms like disorganization, forgetfulness that are really interfering with their lives. People with ADHD need to focus on “functioning” to improve their lives. J. Russel Ramsay, PhD says that a person with ADHD knows his problems; what he lacks is the set of skills that will help him get organized. ADHD therapy is precisely about learning to overcome these problems and learning to get organized in daily routine. Following are the basic psychosocial remedies that could help:Understand your condition: A therapist can help you understand how ADHD has affected your life. The therapist would make you realize that the problems are due to a medical condition and not due to any other personal failure.Improve social skills: The therapist will help you improve social skills that have been lacking due to ADHD. Skills like communicating, reading social cues, knowing how to behave in different situations, are improved.Get organized: The therapist might give very specific recommendations to reduce the chaos in the life of an individual with ADHD. He may give visual or auditory cues to remember things. The level of specificity may help ADHD patients a lot.Challenge negative beliefs: People with ADHD can grow up to be individuals with low self-confidence, low self-worth and with a lot of self-doubt. They come to think that certain tasks are beyond their capacities. Therapists can help people question their own self-limiting beliefs and later overcome them.Change your habit: Psychosocial treatments may help people in identifying the wrong habits and problem behaviours and would help them to change it. It teaches the individual to manage his own problems by using rewards and punishments.Now, therapists might use a number of approaches in treating ADHD. While ADHD therapy can work well with children, it is often less successful with adults and needs to be combined with medication.Certain adults with mild symptoms, who are functioning well, may be benefited with therapy alone; but in severe cases therapy would work best as a compliment to medication.

Six Simple Ways to Manage Your Anger

Ms. Pallavi Tomar, Psychologist
Anger is one of the most challenging emotions we experience and a lot of us struggle with. It is one of the most difficult to understand and manage. This post addresses simple techniques to better manage your anger and ways to facilitate a healthier way to respond to it. As discussed in my previous post, the concern is not with experiencing anger, it is with understanding what makes you anger, why it makes you angry and how you choose to respond to it. Anger management begins with understanding your anger and what makes you angry. To better understand your anger, refer to my earlier post  'Why Do You Get Angry and How Well Do You Manage It?'.Let’s look at what does and does not help us manage your anger better:Venting DOES NOT help, ever!: Screaming, shouting and reacting in the hope that venting will help us feel better is a myth! Venting your anger only worsens the emotional intensity and does nothing to help. In fact, it may cause more damage to an already difficult situation. Especially if you find it difficult to manage your anger, reacting to it only escalate the feeling and adds fuel to fire.Time Out: Learn to catch your early signs of getting angry. Some people may experience tensing of muscles, some may feel an increase in their body temperature, few others may experience their heart racing, some may find themselves get easily irritable etc. Learn to step out of situations where you observe these early signs coming in. Take a time out and calm yourself down before engaging with the situation again.Preparing for difficult situations: Know your triggers and the situations you easily feel angry in. Think about how you would ideally like to respond and prepare yourself to respond accordingly. Changing the way you respond to challenging situations also alters the feedback and responses you get from others in the situation. You cannot expect a different outcome if you continue to approach the situation in the same manner as always. Hence, go over the situation, prepare yourself in terms of what you would like to communicate and go over the best possible ways to do so.Knowing what you can influence and what you cannot: A lot of anger is experienced in situations where people tend to influence change where no real change can be brought about. This eventually leads to frustration and anger outbursts. An important thing to understand about challenges in life is to know the ones you can really take up to change from the ones where the real challenge is of acceptance. Learn to differentiate between the two.Using Distraction: This technique works best in situations where escape is difficult and you know they bother you enough to elicit an unpleasant reaction. Learning to use distraction at such a time can be a very useful technique. Zoning out or thinking about something pleasant or simply focusing on your breathing will help one tolerate being in such a situation and even take away the need to react. Being assertive: The biggest problem with managing anger is that people think the only way out is suppression. This cannot be farther from the truth. Suppression of an emotion is as detrimental as its exaggerated and out of control expression. A lot of anger generally emanates from feelings of being treated unfairly, not feeling heard or understood by others. However, lashing out and losing control is definitely not helpful and neither is suppressing the emotion. The healthy way out is learning to be ‘Assertive’ – learning to express one’s dissatisfaction, concern or worries without getting abusive or threatening the other person. It is the ability to set boundaries and learning to say no when required without humiliating the other person, crossing their boundaries or belittling them. This is an important characteristic to learn when managing a challenging emotion like anger.  

Mild Autism Is Reversible With Educational and Behavioral Approaches

Mrs. Anupama Maruvada, Psychologist
Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.Educational and behavioral approaches are often a core feature of the overall treatment plan for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Limited evidence-based research is available for most of the behavioral and/or educational based programs. These approaches are particularly difficult to study using traditional research methods. For one reason, It is difficult to control many factors that can interfere with or bias results. It is also often difficult to exactly reproduce any single intervention across settings. One exception to this frustrating lack of evidence is the growing amount of success using early intensive intervention programs for children with ASD. Such programs generally involve many hours of therapy each week for children between the ages of 2 and 7.Many studies have shown that behavioral interventions can improve intelligence test scores, language skills, and academic performance of young children with ASD. Some studies have also shown improvement in behavioral or personal and social skills."Behavior Therapy Normalizes Brains of Autistic Children"Autism likely has deep genetic roots, but the latest research provides hope that some learning techniques can lessen symptoms of the developmental disorder. Ten years ago, autism was rarely detected before ages 3 or 4. Now, more autistic children are being identified when they are toddlers. In children with the mild cases of autism, cognitive behavior therapy techniques resulted in changes in their brains that made them “indistinguishable” from those of unaffected children of the same age — essentially normalizing them, according to many researchers.I, as the Clinical Director, with 15 years of experience in the field developed 3 different programs to normalize autistic children using lot of research happening world wide.1. Infant Brain Stimulation2. BMSI program3. Behavior Therapy ServicesBy using these programs, at CBT 2, we have 99% success in showing improvement in children with ASD. We believe that each child is a unique individual with a unique learning style. We therefore design comprehensive, individualized Behavior programs to meet the specific needs of each child and his /her family. We, at CBT 2, use standardized assessments to know where the child stands, develop unique programs for the child and determines the number of hours the child may require therapies. We then gather data to track improvements. These daily reports generate monthly reports to indicate progress of the child. If regression is occurring, we will be able to identify at the earliest and prevent.