What can cause a learning challenge?
Each child is different, their intervention plan should be too.
Children do not grow out of these issues. Many learn to adapt, and silently struggle with the emotional, behavioral and academic consequences. Children with visual or auditory issues often do not realize their experiences are abnormal. Early detection and intervention is crucial to ensure proper brain development. Help them succeed in life, not just one subject.
Auditory Processing Disorders (APDs)
Early detection is crucial. If the condition isn’t caught and treated, it can cause speech or language issues with long-term academic consequences. Unfortunately, simple sound tests provided by their school don’t detect APDs.
Kids with APDs can usually hear sounds delivered one at a time, in a quiet environment perfectly fine.
However, their brain does not recognize some differences even when the sound was loud and clear enough to be normally heard. These issues are made worse with background noise and can make simple tasks miserable.
The causes are unknown and APDs usually accompany other cognitive issues like ADHD, dyslexia or even depression making diagnosis more difficult.
Does your child struggle to understand what’s being said in noisy places?
Symptoms of APD'S are displayed in many different forms. Your child may be suffering if they are:
Easily distracted by loud noises
Highly bothered by sudden noises
Upset by noisy environments and or preform significantly better in quiet settings
Display reading, writing, speech or language difficulties
Unable stay organized or remember what they hear or follow conversations
Struggle with verbal math problems
Cannot easily follow conversation
Slow Processing Speeds
A slow processing speed makes simple tasks incredibly difficult for some kids.
This level of difficulty can be embarrassing as it sometimes also results in punishment or consequences, causing children to feel guilt and shame over an issue completely out of their cognitive control.
Processing speeds have nothing to do with intelligence level, yet can put learners at a huge disadvantage in the classroom.
Signs of a slow processing speed include:
Frequently feeling overwhelmed with a task
Hates routine changes
Needs extra time to make decisions and complete tests or assignments
Struggles trying new foods
Trouble recognizing how their behavior affects others
Leaving materials at home for school, or leaving at school items to bring home
Not planning ahead for large school projects
avoid multi-step math problems
Difficulty starting and finishing homework
Researchers have found that motor control is strongly and frequently associated with processing speed.
Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs)
A sensory processing disorder occurs when the brain consistently misinterprets incoming sensory signals, causing it to misfire and respond wrong. The brain can misinterpret more than one sense at a time. Error in responding to visual, tactile, auditory, gustatory or olfactory input can create an unbearable experience, even when the student is not trying to learn. *Que meltdown.*
Sensory sensitivities often results in kids being sensory avoiders. On the opposite end are sensory seekers, who require more input.
SPDs of any kind make appropriate brain responses incredibly difficult; instead it reacts. In many cases, the sensory processing can be retaught to experience the correct cognitive response to input.
Processing issues are almost certainly a factor in the root of any learning disability. Often difficult to detect because they are comorbid with other challenges, or display the same symptoms.
Visual Processing Disorders (VPDs)
People can have 20/20 vision and still struggle with VPDs.
A VPD is when the brain has trouble interpreting visual information, not seeing it. This issue is rooted in the brain's ability to process and perceive information seen. Kids with VPDs don't always recognize difference between shapes, numbers, letters or symbols. A VPD is not dyslexia, though children with dyslexia often suffer from VPDs. The symptoms a visual processing issue are similar to symptoms of other learning challenges like ADD or sensory processing issues, making VPDs harder to recognize.
Your child might be suffering from a VPD if they have trouble:
copying notes from board
identifying words, letters, shapes or number, they might leave sounds out when reading
exercising visual memory
knowing the correct direction of letters, writing letters backwards.
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.” In other words, dyslexia is a language based learning difference that affects a person’s ability to connect letters to sounds, making it hard to read and spell. A person with dyslexia will read below what would be expected despite having normal or even above average intelligence.
ADHD / Executive Functioning
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Children with ADHD may also struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age. However, some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms. But they can learn strategies to be successful.
Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in outcome.
Attention issues, like all other learning challenged are due to underlying cognitive weaknesses. These issues affect what's called the body's executive functioning system. Executive functioning issues make it incredibly difficult for both kids and adults to exercise working memory, appropriate processing speeds, cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control, among other related functions.
These are some of the toughest cognitive challenges to remediate, reflecting how tough they can make the lives of those living with them.