A great deal has been written about identifying learning problems early so your child can receive the constructive help he or she needs. As a parent, not a trained professional, how do you know if your child is showing signs of learning difficulty?
The National Institutes of Health reports that as many as 10% of U.S. children have learning disabilities.
Children with learning problems are usually of average or above average intelligence. However, they have trouble absorbing, retaining, recalling, using and expressing information. A child with a learning disability may experience problems in any of the following areas: reading, comprehension; handwriting; expressive writing; math; speaking’ thinking; listening and social skills.
These difficulties are neurologically based. A learning-disabled child’s brain is wired in a different way and processes information differently. Students with learning disabilities need to be taught differently from mainstream students. Under these conditions, with early identification and proper help, they can experience great academic success.
If disabilities are not recognized early, a child begins to experience failure that can affect self- esteem. Here is a list of warning signs to help you identify possible problems.
DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SIGNS:
1. TROUBLE FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS
2. DIFFICULTY USING LANGUAGE IN AN AGE- APPROPRIATE WAY
3. POOR COORDINATION (WALKING OR IN SPORTS)
4. MEMORY PROBLEMS
5. FRUSTRATES EASILY
6. PROBLEMS SOCIALIZING WITH ADULTS /OR PEERS
7. BEHAVIORAL DIFFICULTIES AT HOME OR SCHOOL
8. POOR SKILLS IN READING, SPELLING, MATH OR HANDWRITING
9. DIFFICULTY ORGANIZING MATERIALS
10. WHEN TESTED, THERE’S A DISPARITY BETWEEN ABILITY AND PERFORMANCE
How do you know if your child is processing information differently?
For example, If you ask your young child to do two simple tasks, and confusion results, that may be indicative of processing difficulties. Early diagnosis and intervention, together with the proper school environment, can help a challenged child to reach his or her full potential.
Sister Carol Ann Nawracaj is director of Villa Maria School in Stamford CT, a school that specializes in teaching children with learning disabilities. She thinks that parents also need to be educated. Sister Carol Ann reminds parents that, “Children with learning disabilities can learn; they just learn differently. They need to be taught in a way that makes it possible for them to use their strengths and abilities to the greatest potential. When working with learning-disabled students, we teach to their strongest modality. Thus, if a child has strengths in the visual area, we might color-code his or her work. If the student learns better in the auditory area, we may teach him or her the content through songs or a rap," says Sister Carol Ann.
“The first step is to understand not only the disability but also the student’s strengths,” Sister Carol Ann continues. “At Villa Maria, for example, we determine what each student’s needs are and develop an individualized program for that student. A particular set of learning disabilities is like an umbrella, in which each spoke is a different disability. While most of our students have some degree of language disability, they may also have dysgraphia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or a nonverbal learning disability. Every student’s disability is slightly different and we are sensitive to that."
“The most important aspect of a child’s development is the development of good self esteem. If a child is experiencing failure at school, it’s difficult to feel good about himself or herself. We make sure our students experience success as learners. We provide experiences that capitalize of students’ abilities in art, music, drama and leadership as well,” says Sister Carol Ann.
Villa Maria is a private, co-educational day school owned by the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters, serving students with learning disabilities in grades K-9. If you are interested in finding out more about Villa Maria School, visit www.villamariaedu.org or call Mary Ann Tynan, Director of Admissions, at (203) 322 5886. Villa Maria School is located at 161 Sky Meadow Drive in Stamford, CT.
There will be an Open House for interested families on April 10, 2012. Please call Mary Ann Tynan to reserve a place.