Specific Learning Disabilities

Specific Learning Disabilities, such as those with impairment in reading (Dyslexia), writing (Dysorthography), and Mathematical Reasoning (Dyscalculia), are considered to be neurological disorders that become evident during the preschool or early school years, when the child begins to use reading, writing and mathematical reasoning.

These conditions are not associated with cognitive ability, and may therefore appear in children of age-appropriate cognitive abilities. Children may have difficulty reading, spelling or reasoning mathematically, despite being as intelligent as their peers and being exposed to the same educational opportunities.

Although considered permanent if left without intervention, these conditions are permeable to change, and with adequate reading, writing and mathematical programs, a child may have a very positive outcome in these areas.  

 

What is Dyslexia and what are some features of Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is characterised by difficulties in reading fluency, decoding, reading comprehension, recall, writing and spelling.

The following are difficulties, which children with dyslexia may present:

Assessment of Dyslexia:

The screening protocol for Dyslexia involves a comprehensive assessment of cognitive abilities; oral language skills; word recognition (ability to read single words); decoding (ability to use letter-sound knowledge to read unfamiliar words); spelling; phonological processing (e.g. syllable segmentation, rhyming, identifying sounds in words); automaticity/fluency skills; reading comprehension; and word/vocabulary knowledge.

Therapeutic Support in Dyslexia:

Bearing in mind the needs identified during the assessment phase, a program is elaborated, which may include:

  • Phonics (relating letters to their respective sounds, segmenting/breaking words into sounds, and blending sounds);

  • Sounding out words;

  • Spelling;

  • Reading sight words;

  • Developing vocabulary and concepts;

  • Developing reading comprehension strategies (e.g.: by encouraging them to ask themselves questions whilst they're reading, so as to monitor their own understanding of what they're reading)

We also defend a multisensorial approach to enhance learning, whereby a child uses several senses at the same time when learning a skill (e.g. sounding letters out whilst writing them in the air or fingerpainting them).


Additionally, we are keen to liaise with the child’s school and teachers by sharing strategies to help the child access the curriculum. Strategies are thus given, both for teaching and for assessment accommodations.

Other challenges faced by children with Specific Learning Disorders:

Children with Specific Learning Disabilities may sometimes present emotional and behavioural difficulties, including those arising from trying to cope with their learning challenges. They may present with lack of motivation, low self-esteem, difficulty focusing, and task refusal. We, therefore, also make a point of monitoring their emotional well-being, as well as recommending and providing emotional and behavioural support whenever needed.

Preschool Children:

  • Delayed language and speech production;

  • Difficulty pronouncing words;

  • Difficulty learning and identifying rhymes;

  • Difficulty segmenting words into syllables;

  • Difficulty writing their own name;

  • Difficulty re-telling a story, with events in the correct order.

  • Difficulty learning the names of the letters. The child may be able to sing the alphabet, but has difficulty saying the letters one at a time;

  • Difficulty learning the corresponding sounds for the letters of the alphabet;

  • Difficulty writing the letters of the alphabet.

School Children:

  • Difficulty reading, despite age-appropriate intelligence and educational opportunity;

  • Read slowly and with great effort;

  • When reading, they make decoding errors (add sounds, omit sounds, substitute sounds, omit or reverse syllables);

  • Written work does not reflect the child's strong verbal skills and vocabulary. His/her difficulty expressing ideas through writing sometimes renders it difficult to decipher what they have written;

  • Poor spelling;

  • Frequent letter reversals: b/d,p/q,w/m, g/q.

  • Transposition of letters within words: form/from, who/how

  • Difficulty recalling known words;

  • Poor handwriting;

  • Difficulty with reading comprehension.