Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Developmental disability is an umbrella term for a wide array of chronic conditions that persist through an individual’s lifespan and can affect development.

Developmental disabilities can affect many aspects of an individual’s life, including language, learning, mobility and independence.

Through a greater understanding of these conditions, one can learn how to aid those dealing with a developmental disability. As many people may say “Knowledge is Power”. Learning disabilities also tend to be lifelong conditions and are neurologically based processing problems, impairing a child’s ability to comprehend and acquire that knowledge. Therefore they will often need specific techniques and training to help them acquire knowledge in their own way.

Types of Developmental Disabilities

  1. Fragile X syndrome- This form of developmental disability tends to occur in boys and is said to be a factor in the development of autism and intellectual disability
  2. Autism- Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs verbal and non-verbal social interactions and is usually diagnosable within the first two years of a child’s life
  3. Cerebral palsy- Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders, responsible for impairing a person’s ability to move and maintain posture. This is known to be one of the most common developmental disabilities that affect motor abilities in children
  4. Intellectual disability- The criteria for having an intellectual disability is acquiring an IQ score below 70 before the age of 18

Types of Learning Disabilities

  1. Dyslexia- This language-based learning disability affects children’s abilities to read and process language.  Severity of this disability tends to vary, but can affect reading fluency, language comprehension, recall, writing and spelling abilities
  2. Dyscalculia- This disability affects an individual’s ability to comprehend numbers and math facts, impairing the ability to memorize and organize numbers, as well as comprehend time and counting
  3. Language Processing Disorder- This form of Auditory Processing Disorder makes it difficult for individuals to attach meaning to words, sentences and stories. This disability affects children’s ability to express and receive language

Supporting Your Child With Developmental/Learning Disabilities

Living with a developmental or learning disability can become increasingly difficult for children as they age, leading to psychological impacts such as low self-esteem and depression. Understanding your child or teen’s disability can help them through difficult times and ensure they know you are a source for support and encouragement.

  1. Get a diagnosis- Getting a diagnosis can help you better understand your child’s condition and get the help needed for them to succeed in school
  2. Support your child in all their endeavors- Let your child know that you are always there if they need you and remain positive
  3. Seek professional help- While your child may not require medication or counseling, it may be beneficial to seek a specialized educator to aid your child while in school  
  4. Look into a therapeutic boarding school- If your child is struggling or feels out of place in a regular school, it may be beneficial to look into a therapeutic school, where your child will receive specialized support and counseling on top of their regular school curriculum
  5. Consider different forms of therapy- Educational and behavioural therapies can be extremely useful, especially for children with autism. Forms of therapy include sensory based therapies, social skills intervention and cognitive behavioural therapy
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