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Learning Disorders

With learning disorders, it is important to understand that the Federal Law states that every child has a right to a free and appropriate education language disorder, dyslexia, dislexia, reading disorder, math disorder. At least 10-15% of the population has a learning disorder. I talked a little about this back in ADHD. The definition, in terms of learning disorders; discrepancy between ability and the performance of the person. So you may have a person who has average intelligence but the child is performing two grades below what is expeccted.

Then you may have a gifted child who is performing at the grade level but they are supposed to be performing beyond that. Itís probably, the theoretical basis, is that itís a problem in central processing, central information processing where it is auditory or visual information thatís coming in. Eighty percent of children who have a learning disability will have a language or reading disability, 80% dyslexia. Most of these are boys. Increased incidence in families and itís usually diagnosed in second grade or later. Twenty percent of the children who have learning disability will have a math and language disability. These are just subject to the evaluations. Basically you want to find out where the child is functioning and if the child is functioning at the level they are supposed to. If they are not you want to Ö sometimes the school psychologist can help you get into the specific nature of the learning disability; whether itís math or itís reading.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has a prevalence of 5% in the school-age population is thought to have this, and itís estimated that 50% of children who have ADHD will have it as adults, and thatís real important to remember because it may be a lifelong thing, in terms of the pediatric practice. So if you have a child who presents at seven or eight or nine-years-of-age, this is a child who may, at 15 and 16 and 17-years-of-age, still be dealing with ADHD so itís a long-term thing many times. Here we have more preponderance of boys than we have girls, so six boys to one girl.

The main issue here is school failure, thatís obviously a big problem in terms of childrenís schooling. Thatís their major job. Thatís what they do on a day-to-day basis and thatís where they form a lot of their social relationships and thatís where a lot of their self-esteem issues come from, is their ability to succeed in school. So school failure is a major thing when you have a child who has an attention deficit disorder. Behavior problems sometimes as a result of their not being able to succeed in school.

Inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are the hallmarks of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In terms of the subdivisions we have; predominantly inattentive, and attention deficit, predominantly hyperactive and impulsive. So if you look in the DSM-IV you see the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the child must have six or more of these. Six or more of these symptoms that have persisted for at least six months prior to the time that the parents are complaining, or the teacher is complaining or the child presents.

Often fails to give close attention to details and makes careless mistakes in school work. Has difficulty in sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.

Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.

Does not follow through on instructions and often fails to finish doing schoolwork and their chores.

Have difficulty organizing tasks and activities.

Avoid or dislike or reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.

This is aside from things like the video games children play, and some of the other things they get engaged in. When they really enjoy the activity then they can stay for hours and hours and hours. But the key is that when there is an activity that they have to engage in, where they really arenít that interested in, they have a hard time sustaining their attention, in an activity that is important to their lives, that they really need to do, they have a hard time sustaining attention. So youíll have a parent not understanding, "He stays in front of the video game for two or three hours a day and I canít understand it, but he canít do his homework" and that just falls in line with whatís going on.

Often loses things that are necessary for their tasks; their toys, their school assignments. (They lose their erasers, their pencils, their homework assignment, the books.)

They are easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.

They are often forgetful in their daily activities.

What happens is they may be going along to do something and then they get distracted over here and they go off on this tangent if they are going to do something else. Going off on different tangents, kind of branching off. That was the inattention component. In terms of the hyperactivity, six or more of these, the child has persisted for six months or more:

Fidgets with their hands, their feet, squirms in their seat. They leave their seat in the classroom or in other situations where they are supposed to remain seated.

They run about or play excessively and inappropriately.

They have difficulty in playing or engaging in leisure activities.