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Learning difficulties – when should you seek help?

Learning difficulties – when should you seek help?

Learning difficulties – when should you seek help?

Diagnosing learning difficulties in young children isn’t always ‘black and white’ – many conditions associated with learning difficulties are experienced by children who don’t have any significant learning problems. However, a pronounced difficulty in one or more of the areas mentioned in this article may indicate that a professional opinion is necessary to diagnose the problem.

Every child is different, but there are certain developmental milestones that indicate the age at which a child should be able to do something. If the child hasn’t reached the developmental milestone by the recommended age, this may indicate a learning difficulty of some kind.

 By age one, a child should be able to:

  • say “Mama”
  • play ‘peek-a-boo’
  • wave ‘bye-bye’
  • respond to his name
  • sit up on his own

Age two developmental milestones:

  • say the names of a few toys
  • imitate parents
  • seem capable of identifying eyes, ears, nose and mouth
  • walk unaided

Age three developmental milestones:

  • repeat simple rhymes
  • enjoy playing alone with toys
  • understand simple stories
  • navigate stairs

Age four:

  • talk in short sentences
  • enjoy playing with other children
  • give correct answers to simple questions
  • balance on one foot

Age five:

  • understood outside the family
  • sharing or taking turns
  • understanding the words “yesterday,” “today” and “tomorrow”
  • capable of throwing overhand
  • catching a ball

Symptoms in youngsters and adults:
As children get older, it can actually become more difficult to accurately diagnose a learning difficulty, since the developmental milestones aren’t as rigid. However, there are signs one can look out for:

  • He has difficulty understanding spoken directions.
  • He has trouble pronouncing a word until someone says it for him.
  • He tries to treat people well, but often says something inappropriate.
  • He has difficulty following written instructions.
  • In writing, he leaves out or reverses words or letters.
  • He knows his way around town until a street is torn up or a building is removed.
  • He usually mismatches clothes.
  • He is disorganized and can’t find belongings.
  • He is clumsy.
  • He has poor coordination in writing or drawing.
  • He is easily annoyed.
  • He tends to act impulsively.
  • He is either extremely over- or under-active.
  • He has a short attention span.

If a combination of these characteristics is pronounced, it’s recommended that parents or teachers seek a diagnosis from a professional who specialises in learning disabilities and behavioural problems.

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