Learning difficulties in children
Posted on August 20th, 2010

Dr. Ruwan M. Jayatunge M.D.

The term ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”learning difficultiesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ is used to cover a wide range of problems. Children who have difficulty with handwriting or in learning to read and spell often manifest problems such as memory recall blocks, attention deficit, speech delay, clumsiness, poor co-ordination and other health problems. Each childƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s difficulties are uniqueƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a combination of auditory, visual, muscular, chemical, emotional and neurological imbalances.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a renowned Educational Psychologist, nearly 30% of Sri Lankan children show learning difficulties. Learning difficulties sometimes considered as a form of an infirmity which needs therapy. Many children with learning difficulties continue to struggle with learning in the classroom.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” from isolation or withdrawal to clowning or acting out ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” can mask the original, less visible signs of learning difficulties.

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬According to Dr Thilokasundari Kariyawasam –Learning is accomplished through complex and interrelated processes, one of which is vision. Determining the relationships between vision and learning involves more than evaluating eye health and clarity of sight. Problems in identifying and treating children with learning-related vision problems arise when such a limited definition of vision is employed. Children with undetected vision problems complain of headaches when they try to read and they often avoid reading exercises.

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Individuals who struggle with learning are especially vulnerable. Their difficulties may be hard for them to understand, and may go unrecognized by others. Many soon experience the embarrassment, confusion, and humiliation that go hand in hand with falling behind their peers in school. Behavioural and adjustment difficulties

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Because learning difficulties are frequently not recognized early, the following signs may also be clues that an individual is experiencing difficulties with learning:

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  * having difficulty in paying attention

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* hiding, losing or avoiding schoolwork or homework

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* being especially sensitive to criticism, mistakes, or poor grades

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* giving up easily, appearing poorly motivated

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* showing anger and frustration when engaged in schoolwork, homework or other settings

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* having attendance problems, developing school induced sickness , becoming school phobic

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* avoiding schoolwork through over involvement in other activities

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* becoming withdrawn, shy, anxious, helpless, hopeless, or depressed

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* making excuses, externalising blame

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* lowering personal expectations for performance, anticipating difficulty or failure

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* attributing difficulties to other causes, such as disinterest in the subject matter or teacher

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬* demonstrating lowered self esteem, difficulty taking risks, devalued sense of personal worth


ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Dyslexia, meaning “reading difficulty” was originally called “word blindness” and thought to be a visual problem. Many more recent studies point to language and auditory problems as the fundamental cause. Listening is the most basic skill required for verbal communication and a weakness in listening ability may hinder the development of a strong language base. Consequently, the child encounters problems when it comes time to approach the more complex linguistic tasks of writing and reading. If the sounds of speech have not been accurately heard, they cannot be accurately conveyed by symbols.

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬The left hemisphere of the brain is the main centre for processing language. In order for speech sounds to reach the brain efficiently the right ear must take a leading role in listening because the right ear communicates most directly with the left hemisphere. Some experts contend that children with dyslexia have failed to achieve right ear dominance and that therefore the order in which they hear sounds becomes jumbled. If they sometimes use the left and sometimes the right ear as the directing ear, sounds may reach the brain at different speeds, so letters will be jumbled.


ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Autism is a disorder of the brain that causes lifelong development disability. Symptoms become evident either from birth or may being to appear after a period of normal development. Autism is known as a spectrum disorder, because the severity of symptoms ranges from mild learning and social disability to serve impairment with , multiple problems and highly unusual behaviour. The disorder may occur alone or with accompanying problems such as mental retardation or seizures.

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Conduct Disorders in Children

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Conduct disorders are a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour that involves violation of basic rights of others and of the major age appropriate social norms. The conduct problems are evident at school in home, within the community and with peers. A common feature of conduct disorder is physical verbal aggression, damage to the property, stealing, lying, and cheating. Children with conduct disorders, often initiate physical fights, intimidate or insult others. There are some case studies which indicate involvements in sexual activities.

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Treating Learning Difficulties

ƒÆ’‚£ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¡‚¬Wide-ranging treatment is essential when dealing with learning difficulties. Childhood depression and anxiety can negatively affect the learning process in children. Emotional trauma especially parental derivation, child abuse can cause diminished learning abilities in children. Therefore apart from psychological therapies drug therapies also needed.

Counselling helps to build trust, self esteem and confidence in children. Bottled up emotions often get dispersed after successful counselling sessions and children feel more positive in the class room. Similarly cognitive mode of therapy helps to improve brainpower and concentration.

One Response to “Learning difficulties in children”

  1. sena Says:

    Thank you for giving this information. In Sri lanka public health education by government, media and medical professinals are lacking

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