Is your child having difficulty retaining lessons from school? Do they struggle with math, reading, or writing? If they do, they might have learning difficulties.
These conditions make school and daily life extra hard for you and your child. They may feel anxious and frustrated when they see that they are lagging compared to their peers. Thankfully, counseling can help them cope with their distress.
Today, we’ll learn more about different learning difficulties. We’ll tackle how they affect a child’s mental health and how counseling can help with these.
What Are Learning Difficulties?
Learning difficulties, also called learning disabilities, are caused by genetic or neurobiological factors that affect the brain’s ability to process information. Children who have learning difficulties tend to process information at a slower pace compared to others.
Learning difficulties must not be confused with intellectual disabilities; learning disabilities neither affect cognitive functioning nor are caused by developmental factors.
Common learning difficulties affect children’s reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. These also hamper their understanding of mathematics and abstract thinking. It can also affect their attention span and retention of information.
Children with learning difficulties tend to be less organized than others because of how they process information.
Common Types Of Learning Difficulties
These can be verbal, impeding a child’s ability to read, write, or process spoken or written information. There are also learning difficulties that affect a child’s non-verbal skills, impairing their understanding of non-verbal cues.
Here are some of the most common learning difficulties:
- Dyslexia – A child with dyslexia might have difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling. One prominent symptom of dyslexia is confusing the orders of letters in words. They may find it also difficult to write words in the correct sequence.
- Dysgraphia – This is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s writing ability and fine motor skills. Due to this condition, a child may find it difficult to arrange their thoughts and put them into writing.
- Dyscalculia – This learning difficulty makes it difficult for a child to understand numbers, leading to problems with mathematics. A child with dyscalculia may have a poor sense of estimation and perform computations slowly.
- Dyspraxia – Also called Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), is a condition that affects a child’s motor skills and physical coordination. Children with DCD perform poorly in activities that require motor skills.
- Non-Verbal Learning Difficulties – This condition makes it hard for a child to understand non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language. It also affects their speech and language acquisition. Children with this difficulty tend to interpret words too literally.
- Auditory/Visual Processing Disorders – These affect a child’s ability to differentiate between sounds and interpret visual information from maps, charts, and symbols.
Other disorders may co-occur with these learning difficulties. Although not considered learning disorders, these greatly impact a child’s learning progress:
- ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that commonly overlaps with other learning difficulties. Due to ADHD, a child may have problems with controlling their impulses and paying attention.
- Autism – Autism and other disorders within its spectrum are developmental disorders that can make learning difficult. They may have trouble with communication, reading non-verbal cues, and developing social skills.
How Can Learning Difficulties Affect Children’s Mental Health?
Children that have learning difficulties can experience bouts of anger, frustration, stress, and anxiety. Not being able to process information easily can truly be frustrating. Lagging behind their peers in terms of academics can also make them feel anxious. In some cases, a child may feel like a failure and develop depression.
You must be wary of the sudden changes in your child’s behavior, for these can be symptoms of emotional distress. Some of the signs that your child is having emotional distress may include:
- Lowered self-esteem
- Anxiety, especially in academic situations
- Reduced motivation
- Poor social skills
If you do not address your child’s feelings, these might develop into severe mental health problems.
How Can Counseling Help?
Dealing with your child’s learning difficulties is a life-long journey. Since it cannot be cured, your child will need constant support and intervention. Counseling can help your child cope healthily with their learning difficulties.
Having a professional guide will greatly help release any suppressed emotions brought about by their learning difficulties. Counseling provides a safe space for your child to unload all of their emotional distress.
Play therapy can also benefit your child, especially if they are unable to articulate their own feelings. While your child is playing, a therapist will observe their behavior and better understand their problems. This will allow the therapist to help your child deal with their condition. Through play, the therapist can teach your child healthy coping mechanisms.
You should also consider family counseling since learning difficulties affect everyone in the family. Sometimes, siblings and even parents do not fully empathize with their child who has learning difficulties. This creates tension within the family.
Counseling can adjust your family’s mentality towards learning difficulties. Having a healthier mindset is crucial in providing support for your child. With the help of counseling, your family can face the challenges of learning difficulties head-on together.
Engaging with support groups or counseling groups can also widen your perspective on how to handle learning difficulties. This is an opportunity to learn from other people who are going through the same struggles.
Despite having learning difficulties, you must remember that your child still has a bright future ahead of them. They only need to be taught in a way that’s tailored to their needs. With your constant support and the intervention of professionals, your child can live a happy, meaningful life.