Most people automatically think of dyslexia or attention deficit disorder when they think of a learning disability. However, recent research indicates that difficulties with written or spoken language are more appropriately classified along a spectrum of disorders known as Language-Based Learning Disabilities (LBLD). Research has also led to the development of improved teaching methods, which are designed to provide support and foster academic proficiency in learning-challenged students and employed at special needs schools. Parents can educate themselves about this spectrum of disabilities in order to gain a better understanding of the challenges their child might face and how to effectively address them.
LBLD affect the understanding and use of spoken and written language. These difficulties are plotted along a spectrum because students with an LBLD exhibit a range of behavior rather than a discrete set of symptoms. The student may have trouble sounding out words when reading or experience difficulty with spelling, oral expression, or listening comprehension. Some students struggle with all three areas, and others may have difficulty in one area yet excel in the others.
These disabilities are caused by a combination of neurobiological and environmental factors. Research suggests that LBLD may be hereditary. In fact, research and brain function analysis shows that individuals with learning disabilities have slightly different brain structures that contribute to their trouble.
Signs of LBLD can manifest early, usually around the time toddlers start speaking. Parents should pay attention to children who make errors in sound production or use of nonspecific language to express ideas. Children who use words like “thing” or “stuff” frequently in place of the appropriate noun may have an LBLD. Additionally, they may have trouble remembering or describing an event they witnessed. Finally, students with an LBLD can struggle socially as well. Warning signs can include difficulty with eye contact, participating in a conversation or staying on topic.
Parents who notice that their child is having trouble with language development should see a specialist for an evaluation of his or her speech, hearing, and language. A comprehensive diagnostic exam includes evaluation of phonology, grammar, semantics, narrative, discourse, and understanding of social language rules. The diagnostician will encourage you to work with educators in order to develop an individualized strategy for your child. Strategies may include helping your student remediate their weak skills or consideration of special needs schools, where your child can receive more attention from the instructors.
Having a child diagnosed with a disability on the LBLD spectrum can understandably come as a shock. However, such a diagnosis merely means that your child learns differently. In fact, most people diagnosed with learning disabilities are of average or even superior intelligence. Identifying an LBLD early can help your child overcome learning obstacles and embrace their potential. Studies show that recognizing signs of a problem early in life and starting a remediation program are vital to your student’s success. Faculty members at special needs schools are trained in teaching methods researchers have found to be successful in remediating the skills of students on the spectrum.