Specific Learning Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment

What is specific learning disorder?

Specific Learning Disorder

Specific learning disorder is a developmental disorder that usually found among children. It involves difficulties in learning at schools such as reading, writing, and mathematics.

The difficulty in learning among children with a specific learning disorder is not the effect of the quality of instruction. Because children with this disorder are inherently having difficulties in reading words, comprehension, spelling, writing, mathematical or other problem-solving tasks.

In addition, children with specific learning disorder also have learning difficulties in other areas of study such as social science.

Specific learning disorder may cause a significant negative impact on an individual’s life. If not treated, a person may perform poorly in school that may result in lower self-esteem. Furthermore, a person may, later on, develop psychological distress that may also result in a more serious problem during adulthood.

Diagnosis of specific learning disorder

According to the DSM – 5 (Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a person can be diagnosed with this disorder if s/he suffers from at least one of the symptoms. And the symptoms persist for at least six months despite intervention.  A person with a specific learning disorder may experience the following:

  1. Inability in reading and uttering any given words
  2. Difficulty in comprehension
  3. Can not spell the word(s) correctly
  4. Difficulty in writing simple sentences
  5. Difficulty in math calculations and problem-solving
  6. Inability to use mathematical concepts to solve quantitative problems

Children with specific learning disorder have lower performance both in school and in real life compared to their counterparts.

Difficulty in reading among people with the learning disorder is often called dyslexia. This learning disability involves difficulties in uttering words fluently and accurately, poor recognition and spelling. People with dyslexia may be unable to read and comprehend.

People with a learning disability are also unable to produce a written language a condition commonly called dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is a learning disorder that is characterized by poor motor coordination. People with dysgraphia may be unable to create any form of meaningful written expression. As a result, they may have difficulty in bringing their thoughts into a written form.

Approximately four percent of students have specific learning disabilities. This means that those students may suffer either dyslexia or dysgraphia.

Treatment of specific learning disorder

Since this disorder is noticeable even during childhood, early intervention can be more effective. Early treatment can avoid children from suffering poor academic performance.

Although treatment of specific learning disorder is not clear, special education can help children to develop reading and math abilities. But, educating children with a specific learning disorder may not be easy. It needs specialized teaching strategies. An effective educational system may involve multimodal teaching approaches.

Some studies had found that the most effective teaching strategy for specific learning disorder is targeted and structured teaching technique. The techniques should enhance reading fluency, comprehension, phonological awareness, and decoding skills.

Although treating a learning disability cannot be easy, there are some alternatives available. Effective intervention strategies can be helpful in changing the lives of those who suffer from learning disability.