Living with a Learning Disorder – What Is LD? Is There a Cure?
There are a lot of assumptions about those living with learning disorders (LD). It is often assumed that those suffering with LD are unintelligent, or that they have low IQs. Some believe that LD sufferers are ADHD, autistic, or mentally ill. Since LD can cause confusion and slow learning at school and work, those living with LD may be teased or called names such as “stupid” and “dumb.”
None of those assumptions accurately reflect learning disorders. LD is diagnosed when someone without any other disorders or limitations is unable to learn as efficiently as others in their age group. They are just as smart as anyone else, and many have above-average IQs. What makes them different is the way their brains function.
The LD Brain
A learning disorder is a neurological dysfunction. The brain processes stimuli differently than the brains of those without LD. This often affects reasoning and organizational skills, and there are typically problems displayed in writing, spelling, mathematics, and reading. Different LD sufferers have different symptoms, so one person does not typically have problems in all of these areas. Difficulty in just one area can signal the existence of a learning disorder.
There are different types of learning disorders, and they each have their own symptoms. Many sufferers go undiagnosed when they are young, so their symptoms continue to cause problems into adulthood. Sufferers can be diagnosed at any age, though those diagnosed and given treatment while they are young tend to do better in school and in their adult lives.
There is no way to make an LD brain function the same way other brains function. There is no medication or therapy that can reverse the disorder. Children are typically given special provisions in the classroom to help them succeed. Adults typically develop their own ways of coping, though there are some therapies and treatments that can help them overcome some of their challenges.
Children with learning disorders may show symptoms at the preschool age. They may struggle to learn their ABC’s and numbers, and rhyming words may be difficult. They may not know as many words as other children, and it may be difficult for them to pronounce some words. Fine motor skills may be slow to develop, and it may be difficult for these children to focus, sit still, interact appropriately with others, and follow directions.
Many parents realize that their children are not progressing in the classroom like other children, but they do not know exactly what is going wrong. They may know that something is not right, but may not be able to communicate the problems to a medical professional to get help. Many children are not diagnosed with LD until they are in higher grades when mathematics, reading, and spelling become far more difficult.
Older children, teenagers, and adults suffer with many of the same LD symptoms as children, but on a larger scale. For instance, an adult LD sufferer may never be able to learn multiplication tables and all math-related tasks may be difficult for them. Other adult sufferers may never enjoy reading because of their difficulties with language.
LD In the Classroom
Studies have shown that more than 30% of kids with LD will drop out of high school. Less than 20% of those diagnosed with LD will go to a four-year university. These kids are at a serious disadvantage because their brains do not process information, make calculations, reason, or organize the same way as other brains.
This is why laws have been passed to ensure these children are given proper accommodations in the classroom to learn in the most appropriate manner for their brains. Teachers now receive more education about LD than ever before, and most acknowledge that there are different learning styles. Most schools present a variety of lessons in different styles to ensure all children are given a fair chance to understand the material.
Learning disorders cannot be outgrown, so child sufferers will continue to suffer after they leave high school. Those who are diagnosed at an early age and who are taught a variety of coping techniques early on will do the best when seeking employment and trying to live with ED in the grown-up world. Those who go undiagnosed as children may suffer their entire lives without knowing they have a serious disorder.