Education and psychology have long been concerned with how a child learns, especially how he/she acquires the spoken, read and written word as well as mathematical skills. However, many parents do not recognize learning disabilities in their child until they become school age or the disability is so severe that assistance is sought.
Dyslexia is probably the best known of all learning disabilities. The term, dyslexia, means without reading but most people immediately identify it as letter or word reversal. Oftentimes a visual problem exists which interferes with the ability to read. This is not a lack of vision but rather the inability to differentiate, interpret or remember words due to a central nervous system dysfunction. Although reading is primarily a visual symbol system, auditory dyslexia does exist. This is the inability to distinguish similarities and differences in sounds, to perceive sounds within words and to divide words into syllables. Reading comprehension or the ability to understand the information which has been read also falls within this category of reading problems.
Disorders in written language exist in regards to deficits in oral expressive language, disorders in reading but sometimes only occurs in written form while other verbal behavior is considered typically developing. This disorder is called dysgraphia, or without writing. This problem presents itself as a disturbance in visual-motor integration. The child sees what he/she wants to write but is not able to execute the motor plan. As a result, the child is unable to write or copy letters, words and numbers. It is this inability to copy which distinguishes dysgraphia from other writing disorders.
Difficulty with arithmetic also falls into several categories. Children may have an auditory receptive language problem or an auditory memory problem which interferes with acquiring various skills in arithmetic. The term for disorders of arithmetic is called dyscalculia or without calculations when it is determined that the child fails to understand mathematical principles and processes. Many students diagnosed with dyscalculia are deficient in visual-spatial organization and non-verbal integration as well.
It is important to recognize learning difficulties as soon as possible and request assistance. Without remediation, a learning disability can cause serious achievement problems as well as emotional issues. Every child has the right to a free, appropriate public education so they may become successful productive members of the world.