Monday, September 19, 2016

Learning Disability: A Mental Disorder

My nephew was said to have a learning disability and can hardly catch up with his academic requirements. This was the feedback made by his teacher and I am quite bothered by it as to how we should address it.  We assumed before that his inability to focus during tutorial was only because of his being playful but having the observation of his teacher seems to make his behavior more alarming.

This case and my close friend's twins are having the same issue as the latter do have developmental delays. The twins are already 4 years old but they can't hardly talk and seem to act like 2 years old only. They were advise to go on therapy for  6 months  as intervention.


So, is learning disability can really be equated to mental illness? According to Larry B. Silver, MD, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, LD is not a mental disease. He further said, " Learning Disability is not a mental illness. Learning Disabilities are neurologically-based. They result from “faulty wiring” in specific areas of the brain. These disabilities will impact on an individual’s ability to process and to use information and, thus, can impact on this individual’s ability to be successful with reading, writing, math, and other learning tasks."

While this seems to be hopeful, I cant help but be more dubious as I happen to read from Learning Disabilities Organization,    between 20 - 40% of  people with learning disability also suffer from mental disorder like autism or emotional and conduct disorder.

So, what  then our warning bells if our kids are having LD and not something else. Learning Disabilities Association of America define Learning Disability as,

A learning disability is a neurological condition that interferes with an individual’s ability to store, process, or produce information.
Learning disabilities can affect one’s ability to read, write, speak, spell, compute math, reason and also affect an individual’s attention, memory, coordination, social skills and emotional maturity.
Specific Leaning Disabilities include:

  • Auditory Processing Disorder - Affects how sound travels unimpeded through the ear is processed and interpreted by the brain.
  • Dyscalculia - A specific learning disability that affects a person's ability to understand numbers and learn math facts.
  • Dysgraphia  - A specific learning disability that affects a person's handwriting abiltiy and fine motor skills.
  • Dylexia - A specific learning disability that affects reading and related language - based processing skills.
  • Language Processing Disorder - A specific type of (APD) that affects attaching meaning to sound groups that form words, sentences and stories.
  • Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities - Has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expression or body language and may have poor coordination.
  • Visual Perceptual / Visual Motor Deficit - A disorder that affects the understanding of information that a person sees, or ability to copy or draw.  
While experts may have conflicting issues with LD and Mental Disorder, they both agree that if your kid or your loved one is showing deviations from other kids, seek help. Whether the difference in behavior warrants a mental disorder or a learning disability, the best person(s) shall be to see medical doctors and / or psychiatrist and heed their advice. 

Early detection and intervention can  do much in addressing the issue. So, let us take action promptly. 

Learning Disabilities Organization
Learning Disabilities Association of America



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