SLD, an acronym for Specific Learning Disorders, can manifest in children as early as elementary school as they embark on their initial educational tasks. Reading, writing, or math exercises can become challenging for them.
These are genuine disorders as they do not result from a child’s unwillingness or lack of concentration but stem from specific variations in their learning processes.
What is SLD?
SLDs are learning disorders with a neurobiological origin. They are primarily characterized by difficulties in performing accurate and fluent reading, as well as poor writing and calculation skills. These challenges often come unexpectedly compared to a child’s other cognitive abilities and schooling, but they do not affect a person’s intelligence. Instead, they impact specific skills while general intellectual functioning remains within normal limits.
Types of SLDs
The primary disorders typically revolve around reading, writing, and math, often leading to frustration when children struggle to keep up with their peers who appear more proficient. These difficulties may remain concealed until the child engages in reading, writing, or math, so a formal diagnosis is typically made at the end of the 2nd grade.
Recognizing the Signs of SLD
Cognitive development begins at a child’s birth as they lay the foundations for their thinking through the development of spoken and heard language. A delay in spoken language development does not necessarily imply a pause in thought language development. However, it could be the initial sign of difficulty translating thoughts into words, a skill that underpins later learning modes.
Certification for SLD
For over a decade, governments have implemented laws to support children with SLD. These measures are crucial to prevent unwarranted and harmful penalizations from unprepared teachers and peers who belittle those with learning difficulties, wrongly considering them unintelligent.
SLD certification is typically conducted by a team accredited by the local education authority, consisting of:
- A neuropsychiatrist
- A psychologist
- A speech therapist
This team assesses the child using their specific expertise. If the child is found to have SLD, they will be entitled to dispensatory and compensatory measures as provided by law.
When Support Teachers Are Needed
While not essential, a classroom support teacher can assist in improving the learning experience of a child with SLD. Their presence can help the child maintain attention and concentration during class, preventing disruptions due to boredom or feelings of being sidelined. However, it’s essential to note that such support often benefits not only the child but also the teacher and the entire class. The child primarily requires a program that reinforces lexical, manual, and mathematical automatisms, facilitating fluent, quick, and effective operation of psychomotor skills, known as praxis.