Canada - According to Statistics Canada, a child on a school bus has a learning disability. Yet the public does not seem to be well informed about what learning disabilities really are. A look at the causes, detection and forms of help.
According to the national definition adopted by Canadian Association for Learning Disabilities, the expression “learning disabilities” (LD) refers to a number of dysfunctions that can affect the acquisition, organization, retention, understanding or processing of verbal or non-verbal information. These dysfunctions affect learning in people who otherwise demonstrate moderate intellectual skills essential for thought or reasoning.
In other words, LDs are neurological disorders that affect an individual's ability to remember, understand, or communicate information. Oral and written language and mathematics are particularly affected. They also involve organizational and social deficits. It is important to remember that learning disability is not synonymous with intellectual disability.
According to Statistics Canada's report on Participation and Activity Limitation Survey in 2006, learning disabilities affect more children in Canada than all other disabilities combined. Moreover, 3.2 % of Canadian children would have a learning disability.
The severity of learning disabilities varies from person to person, but they never go away completely. The relation between the demands of the environment, the strengths and the needs of the person varies the degree. It is possible that a person has more than one learning disability. The main ones are: dyslexia, dyspraxia, non-verbal dysfunction syndrome, dyscalculia, central hearing disorder and language disorder.
First of all, LDs are not attributable to an economic, environmental or cultural factor. They are also not related to vision or hearing problems. Lack of motivation or poor quality education are also irrelevant. However, all of these factors can influence the size of the challenges people face.
Rather, LDs result from genetic or neurobiological factors, or from brain dysfunction following brain damage. Heredity can also be a cause of LDs. It is not uncommon for parents or a close family member to experience difficulties similar to the individual. The use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, premature birth or difficult childbirth can also cause learning disabilities.
There are several signs that can alert those around people who may have learning disabilities. For example, unsatisfactory academic performance as a result of many efforts that far exceed normal may be a clue. LDs are also manifested by marked difficulty in listening, communicating, reading or writing. People with learning disabilities also regularly have socio-emotional and behavioral problems.
However, these problems should not be an isolated occurrence because a person of average intelligence may at one time or another find it difficult to learn at the same pace as others. Rather, LDs are recurring problems.
It is very important that people with learning disabilities are detected as early as possible. Since from the moment one or more TAs are detected in an individual, regular evaluations must be made by professionals. This is why we ask parents, teachers, doctors and other stakeholders to be vigilant.
Different forms of help are available for people with learning disabilities. Interventions must be implemented at home, at school, at work and in the community. These interventions must take into account the unique characteristics of each individual, including the age and severity of the problem. Those around the person must be open to the specific needs of the person.
In addition, the Canadian Association for Learning Disabilities has provided, since 1963, support, tools and practical solutions to people with learning disabilities, but also to their families.
People with LDs can be successful as long as they learn coping skills and strategies. Remember, it's never too late to get help, no matter what age.
By Marie-Christine Leblanc