It is estimated that around 1.5 million people in the UK have learning disabilities and that by 2016 this number will rise by around 1%. Learning difficulties typically affect a person’s movement, information processing and memory.
Children with learning disabilities like dyslexia and Asperger’s syndrome may struggle with schoolwork regardless of their intellectual abilities. They require specialised learning strategies to meet their full potential and to avoid self-esteem and behavioural problems.
Types of learning difficulties
Specific learning disabilities include:
- Dyslexia: students have difficulty with the use of both written and oral language; they may find some learning tasks challenging due to difficulties with short-term memory, concentration and organisation.
- Dysgraphia: students have difficulty in writing, resulting in written work that may be illegible and inaccurately spelled.
- Dyspraxia: students suffer from coordination difficulties, which can impact on their movement, perception and thought. This may affect speech, body movement, hand-eye coordination, sequencing and organisation.
- Dyscalculia: students have difficulty performing mathematical calculations. They do not notice their common mistakes such as transposing, omitting and reversing numbers.
- Attention deficit disorder: students have concentration difficulties with heightened activity levels and impulsiveness.
- Asperger’s syndrome and autism: students show signs of emotional behaviour or social communication difficulties.
Is having a learning disability a disadvantage?
A child with a specific learning difficulty is as able as any other child, except in one or two areas of their learning. They may find it difficult to cope with numbers or reading, or to recognise letters. Specific difficulties such as dyslexia can make lessons challenging for a child. They may struggle to keep up with classmates, and come to see themselves as ‘stupid’ or ‘hopeless’; they may find it difficult to concentrate on lessons, or avoid doing schoolwork because they find it impossible to do it well. Children with specific reading difficulties often become angry and frustrated, so behavioural problems are common.
However, if your child has a learning disability it does not mean that he/she will not succeed in the real world. In fact, some of the most brilliant thinkers and artists of our times suffer from disabilities and they’ve gone on to do great things in spite of the odds against them. Who would have thought that award-winning actor Tom Cruise suffers from dyslexia, or that Daniel Radcliffe, famous for his role as wizard Harry Potter, struggles with dyspraxia?
How can Leaders are Readers help children with learning difficulties?
Leaders are Readers has devised an award-winning Reading Programme that is great for children with learning difficulties and SEN. Our programme is based on using the phonics method of reading. Phonics is the fountain of better reading and scientific research has proven that direct, systematic, intensive phonics is the best method for teaching reading to dyslexics of all ages.
Students with learning disabilities in reading usually have problems in spelling as well. The most basic knowledge required for good English spelling involves phonic knowledge, or knowledge of letter-sound relationships. Consequently, we ensure that children are phonemic aware and have a sound phonic knowledge so that they are able to build up their vocabulary and improve their spelling.
Our reading programme is also visually rich which is ideal for children with autism, who are strong visual learners. We incorporate multiple senses into our programme, including sight, sound and touch rather than just sound and writing. This keeps the children engaged and motivated.