Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLd) is an umbrella term for a series of difficulties which include: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and others. Although SpLds never go away, with the right intervention they can be minimised and the child can lead a happy and normal life. However, ignored they can lead to depression, poor self-esteem and low self-confidence.
What SpLDs do have in common, is the way they affect the brain and its ability to process, order and understand communication. Although it must be remembered, every child is still unique and each disorder and the methods used for effectively educating each child will be different.
The Jumeirah Baccalaureate School (JBS) SEN policy states, “Students have learning support needs if they have a learning difficulty that calls for special educational provision to be made for them. Students have a learning difficulty if they: have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of students the same age or have a disability that prevents or hinders them from learning.”
Specific learning difficulties affect:
Diagnosis and treatment
Specific learning difficulties are usually noticed when a child starts school, just by the very nature of the work they are expected to do there. Good teachers should them up quickly, and discuss assessment options with you, although they are not permitted to diagnose the condition.
Getting a child with learning difficulties timely help will not only increase their chances of a successful educational experience but will give them the confidence and skills to help them throughout their life.
SpLDs should ideally be diagnosed by an Educational Psychologist. Two good options available for diagnosis and assessment are, Dr Ruba Tubari, at the Dubai Community Health Centre and a UK based Educational Psychologist whose regular visits are organised by the Dubai Dyslexia Group, (contact the group for more information on dates and prices).
Teaching strategies to help children with learning difficulties
Whether your child’s already in a school and just received his or her diagnosis or you’re finding a new school here in Dubai, it’s essential you make sure the school can offer the strategies your child needs and that have been proven to work with SpLDs. Check they can provide:
• A school counsellor to deal with behavioural and emotional problems associated with SpLD
• Do they allow individual learning plans (IEP) and how will these be monitored, evaluated and feedback given
• Can your child utilise visual and audio aids?
• Can they reduce the course load if and when required?
• Is there the opportunity to have instruction in memory strategies?
• Are recording devices permitted?
Dyslexia is both hereditary and the most common SpLD. Around 35% of people with Dyslexia also have visual disturbances when reading. Children with dyslexia have difficulties with reading, spelling and remembering sounds.
Dysgraphia causes significant problems with handwriting. Children with Dysgraphia are tense and awkward when writing and their skills fail to improve over time. Dysgraphia affects: spelling, ordering things and getting thoughts down on paper.
Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
Dyspraxia is a condition which affects the coordination of fine and/or gross motor skills. Children with dyspraxia have poor hand eye coordination, lack balance and can often have high sensitivity to noise or touch. It can also, occasionally affect speech.
Signs of dyscalculia are a lack of understanding of even basic maths concepts and a poor grasp of time and logical information sequences. Dyscalculia is possibly the least supported SpLD in Dubai with few specialised tutors available.
The Dubai Dyslexia Group actively supports parents of children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia. The group holds monthly meetings, regularly invites their UK based Educational Psychologist to assess UAE based children and has a wealth of information on UAE based schools and tutors. For more information contact: The Dubai Dyslexia Group, Tel: 050 652 4325 or email [email protected]
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