Some signs to watch for.
“I forgot my homework.” “My head hurts.” “I have a tummy ache.”
Belinda Bernardo, founder of Star Academy in Mississauga, says a child with a learning disability may exhibit “avoidance behaviour” to get out of school, offering excuses that range from faking illness to “forgetting” to do homework.
From the teacher you might hear, “He’s daydreaming; she’s talking all the time,” Bernardo says. Or, “If he only put in a little more effort and paid a little more attention…”
Girls with learning disabilities are often passive, while boys may act out, being obstinate or turning into the class clown to mask confusion. Bernardo says it may take a while before someone recognizes a problem exists, especially if the student appears to be a model student who seems attentive and interested.
“They pretend they are ‘getting it’ because they want to please,” she says. “They don’t want to stand out. They don’t want to feel stupid so they pretend.”
The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) defines learning disabilities as “a variety of disorders that affect the acquisition, retention, understanding, organization or use of verbal and/or non-verbal information.” In other words, they affect the way in which a person takes in, remembers, understands and expresses information. A learning disabled child can have trouble with one or all of the following: oral language, reading, written language and mathematics.
People with learning disabilities are intelligent and have the ability to learn but usually require specialized help to do so.
Sometimes tricky to spot, learning disabilities may appear as something else. And the children affected may not know they have problems, because at first they do not realize they are falling behind.
Visit www.ldac-taac.ca for more information and resources.
— by Dee Gibney