Does your child struggle with school? Does he or she dread reading out loud, writing an essay, or tackling a math problem? While every student has trouble with homework from time to time, if a certain area of learning is consistently problematic, it might indicate a learning disorder. By understanding all you can about learning disabilities, you can ensure your child gets the right help to overcome classroom challenges and succeed in life.
Click on the tabs below to learn more about the types of learning disorders LMA specializes in.
ADD / ADHD
People with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or be overly active. Although ADHD can't be cured, it can be successfully managed and some symptoms may improve as one ages.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood.
Though it is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another, children with ADHD do not grow out of these behaviors. For children with ADHD, these behaviors are usually more extreme and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.
The DSM-V (American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) Criteria for ADHD recognizes ADHD as "a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development".
Within this definition of ADHD, the APA also recognizes that there are three different types of ADHD, depending on which types of symptoms are strongest in the individual:
Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well. The causes for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role.
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. No single treatment is the answer for every child and good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.
Recognizing the symptoms of ADHD and how they can impede on a student's progress and success in school, Lake Michigan Academy provides a structure in its program that enables students to experience success and instills confidence in students with ADHD.
Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.
Dyslexia occurs in children with normal vision and intelligence. It is a condition that affects the way the brain processes written and spoken language. A child who struggles with spelling may be struggling with dyslexia. Sometimes dyslexia goes undiagnosed for years and isn't recognized until adulthood.
There's no cure for dyslexia. It's a lifelong condition caused by inherited traits that affect how your brain works. However, most children with dyslexia can succeed in school with tutoring or a specialized education program. Emotional support also plays an important role.
Dysgraphia is the difficulty with writing. Students with dysgraphia have a difficult time physically putting their thoughts or writing anything on paper. For many children with dysgraphia, just holding a pencil and organizing letters on a line is difficult. Their handwriting tends to be messy. Many struggle with spelling and other writing tasks—like putting ideas into language that is organized, stored and then retrieved from memory.
In the writing process, the brain normally takes in information through the senses and stores it to use later. Before a person starts writing, he retrieves information from his short- or long-term memory and gets organized to begin writing.
In a person with dysgraphia, it is ﾠbelieved that either he/she misses one of the next two steps in the writing process: organizing information that is stored in memory, or getting words onto paper by handwriting or typing them. As a result, the written work is often hard to read and filled with errors. It also often does not convey what the child knows or what he/she intended to write.
Working memory may also play a role in dysgraphia. A faulty working memory makes it difficult to remember unfamiliar written words, causing the student to have a hard time remembering how to print or write a letter or a word.
Students with dyscalculia usually have difficulty with time, directions, recalling schedules, sequences of events. They also often mistake recollection of names, have poor name-face association and/or substitute names beginning with same letter.
Their difficulties show up most significantly in the area of mathematics. They have inconsistent results in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, are bad at financial planning and money management, and are too slow at mental math to figure totals, change due, tip, and tax. When writing, reading and recalling numbers, they might make number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, and reversals.
Students struggling with dyscalculia tend to have the inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), and basic math facts (+-x/).
They have poor memory (retention & retrieval) of math concepts, may be able to perform math operations one day, but draw a blank the next! Or they might be able to do book work but then fail tests.
Dyscalculia may affect a students’ ability to imagine or "picture" mechanical processes. They often have a poor ability to "visualize or picture" the location of the numbers on the face of a clock, the geographical locations of states, countries, oceans, streets, etc. or not remember the ‘layout’ of things - getting lost or disoriented easily.
Most students with severe dyscalculia should be given a personal curriculum in math to help them through the high school curriculum expectations. To work with the younger student, the teacher must work at a slower pace and use many visuals and manipulatives to help them understand the mathematics concept being taught.
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
Students with APD or CAPD can't process the information they hear in the same way as others because their ears and brain don't fully coordinate. Something adversely affects the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, most notably the sounds composing speech.
Students with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. This is especially a problem where there is more background noise - the sounds found in any normal classroom.
Students who are easily distracted or unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises could be suffering from ADP though they are often diagnosed with ADHD instead. These students’ behaviors and performances often improve dramatically in quiet settings. Following spoken directions is also a symptom of ADP. These students often have difficulty with reading, spelling, writing, or other language-based activities. ADP or CAPD is often a misunderstood condition which often leads to the proper teaching methods not being used to appropriately help these students.
The most important factor to consider when teaching students with APD is to use multiple methods of disseminating information. Talking alone will not be successful; it must be accompanied with many various visuals.
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LMA is a regional resource and the only dedicated school in West Michigan to educate students with learning disabilities.