What is a learning disability?
A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things in any area of life, not just at school. Find out how a learning disability can affect someone, and where you can find support. A learning disability affects the way a person understands information and how they communicate. Around 1.5m people in the UK have one.
This means they can have difficulty:
- understanding new or complex information
- learning new skills
- coping independently
10 FACTS ABOUT DISABILITY (ADD.org.uk)
AN ESTIMATED 1 BILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE ARE DISABLED.
This corresponds to about 15% of the world's population. Of this billion people, between 110-190 million adults have very significant challenges (WHO).
RATES OF DISABILITY ARE INCREASING.
The number of disabled people is increasing due to population ageing and the global rise in chronic health conditions. War is also a major cause of disability. For every person killed in warfare, many are injured and permanently disabled.
DISABILITY AFFECTS ESPECIALLY PEOPLE WHO ALREADY ARE VULNERABLE.
Disability is more common among people living in poverty, and 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries (WHO). In fact, lower-income countries have a higher prevalence of disability than higher-income countries.
DISABLED PEOPLE OFTEN DO NOT RECEIVE NEEDED HEALTH CARE.
Disabled people are nearly 3 times more likely to report being denied care than non-disabled people; 2 times more likely to find healthcare provider skills or equipment inadequate for their needs; 4 times more likely to report being treated badly by health professionals (WHO).
CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES ARE LESS LIKELY TO ATTEND SCHOOL.
The estimated global number of disabled children under age 18 is 150 million (UNICEF, 2006). Disabled children are significantly more likely to be out of school than non-disabled children in every country, according to a study of data from seven countries. This happens everywhere, but the situation is extremely grim in poorer areas, and in particular for girls with disabilities.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES ARE OFTEN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE.
Disabled children are 3-4 times more likely to experience violence and sexual abuse than non-disabled children (Lancet, 2011).Some forms of violence are specific to children with disabilities. For example, they may be subject to violence administered under the guise of treatment for behaviour modification, including electroconvulsive treatment, drug therapy or electric shocks (UNICEF, 2013).
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. We know that an incredible amount of women worldwide experienced physical or sexual violence from men at some point in their lives – usually by their husband, partner or someone they know. This unacceptable situation is even worse for disabled girls and women:
"Women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience domestic violence and other forms of gender-based and sexual violence as non-disabled women, and are likely to experience abuse over a longer period of time and to suffer more severe injuries as a result of the violence." (Violence Against Women with Disabilities Working Group, 2012)
DISABLED PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE UNEMPLOYED.
Employment rates tend to drastically fall for disabled people. For example, we know that employment rates for disabled people are lower than for non-disabled people in 12 out of 15 countries that were studied the World Bank in 2011.
DISABLED PEOPLE ARE VULNERABLE TO POVERTY.
People with disabilities are generally poorer – they need to spend more in medical care or personal support, and at the same time they need to overcome huge barriers which prevent them from earning a living.
Therefore, often they have worse living conditions – including insufficient food, poor housing, lack of access to safe water and sanitation. Often, disabled people are denied the most basic rights, such as access to an education, health care, employment, political participation, social and family life.
REHABILITATION SERVICES ARE OFTEN INADEQUATE.
Rehabilitation helps to maximize functioning and support independence. However, rehabilitation services are often inexistent or inappropriate. Disabled people living in poverty often don't receive the medical rehabilitation they need, and many don't have access to assistive devices (e.g. wheelchairs, prostheses, hearing aids). You may find more info on the WHO Guidelines on Health-Related Rehabilitation.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES CAN LIVE AND PARTICIPATE IN THE COMMUNITY.
ADD International's projects have shown that attitudes against disability are the main barrier, and that this can be changed. We educate disabled people on their own rights and we change the attitudes of their communities.
Goldsmith Personnel provides specialist Services in Learning Disabilities, challenging Behaviour, Autism, mental health & Brain injury.
Helping Children with Learning Disabilities
When it comes to learning disabilities, look at the big picture. With encouragement and the right support, your child can build a strong sense of self-confidence and a solid foundation for lifelong success.
Recognizing a learning disorder
By understanding the different types of learning disorders and their signs, you can pinpoint the specific challenges your child faces and find a treatment program that works. All children need love, encouragement, and support, and for kids with learning disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.
In searching for ways to help children with learning disabilities, remember that you are looking for ways to help them help themselves. Your job as a parent is not to “cure” the learning disability, but to give your child the social and emotional tools he or she needs to work through challenges. In the long run, facing and overcoming a challenge such as a learning disability can help your child grow stronger and more resilient.
Always remember that the way you behave and respond to challenges has a big impact on your child. A good attitude won’t solve the problems associated with a learning disability, but it can give your child hope and confidence that things can improve and that he or she will eventually succeed.
Tips for dealing with your child’s learning disability
- Keep things in perspective. A learning disability isn’t insurmountable. Remind yourself that everyone faces obstacles. It’s up to you as a parent to teach your child how to deal with those obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Don’t let the tests, school bureaucracy, and endless paperwork distract you from what’s really important—giving your child plenty of emotional and moral support.
- Become your own expert. Do your own research and keep abreast of new developments in learning disability programs, therapies, and educational techniques. You may be tempted to look to others—teachers, therapists, doctors—for solutions, especially at first. But you’re the foremost expert on your child, so take charge when it comes to finding the tools he or she needs in order to learn.
- Be an advocate for your child. You may have to speak up time and time again to get special help for your child. Embrace your role as a proactive parent and work on your communication skills. It may be frustrating at times, but by remaining calm and reasonable, yet firm, you can make a huge difference for your child.
- Remember that your influence outweighs all others. Your child will follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with optimism, hard work, and a sense of humor, your child is likely to embrace your perspective—or at least see the challenges as a speed bump, rather than a roadblock. Focus your energy on learning what works for your child and implementing it the best you can.
- Focus on strengths, not just weaknesses. Your child is not defined by his or her learning disability. A learning disability represents one area of weakness, but there are many more areas of strengths. Focus on your child’s gifts and talents. Your child’s life—and schedule—shouldn’t revolve around the learning disability. Nurture the activities where he or she excels, and make plenty of time for them.