What are learning difficulties?
A learning difficulty can be described as a neurological difficulty with processing certain forms of information. Some learning difficulties are seen in isolation and others alongside each other, for example Dyslexia and Dyspraxia are often seen together.
Learning difficulties is an umbrella term used to describe some of the most frequently occurring conditions such as, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
How would I know if my child has learning difficulties?
The way that a learning difficulty presents itself will vary from child to child. Below are a few of the common signs that would warrant further investigation:
- Difficulty organising themselves or their work
- Memory difficulties
- Struggling to create neat, legible work, or produces work very slowly meaning they are falling behind in lessons
- Difficulty translating what they see on the board or in a book into their own work, for example copying from the board into their homework book or losing their place when reading or copying
- Poor reading ability
- Difficulty recalling words or times tables recently learnt
- Easily distracted
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help people overcome common difficulties associated with learning difficulties, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can occupational therapy help a child with learning difficulties?
An occupational therapist can work with a child, their school and parents to provide treatment, advice, strategies and techniques to minimise the effects of a learning difficulty on everyday life. It is important that where possible, treatment is started early to minimise the effect on self-confidence and esteem with their peers and in the classroom.
Below are some of the ways that an occupational therapist might forcus on:
- Breaking tasks down into smaller and more manageable chunks
- Teaching physical preparation
- Helping with mental preparation and memory aids
- Offering timing and pacing techniques.
- Advising on calendar and time management (in a very simple form)
- Teaching visual cues and reminders
- Putting in place routines
- Helping a child develop a mature pencil grip
- Teaching how to assume and maintain an effective sitting posture
- Teaching correct letter formation
- Supporting with development of pre-writing and copying skills
- Introducing activities to increase core and shoulder stability
- Helping build fine motor, hand strength and dexterity
- Support with organisation of work on the page