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5 Types of learning difficulties and how to help
Read and Spell blog
5 Types of learning difficulties

5 Types of learning difficulties

A learning difficulty is a condition that can cause an individual to experience problems in a traditional classroom learning context. It may interfere with literacy skills development and math/maths and can also affect memory, ability to focus and organizational skills. A child or adult with a learning difficulty may require additional time to complete assignments at school and can often benefit from strategy instruction and classroom accommodations, such as material delivered in special fonts or the ability to use a computer to take notes.

No two individuals with a learning difficulty are exactly alike and many conditions, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, exist on a wide-spectrum. There is also dyspraxia, a motor-skills difficulty that can affect a learner’s ability to write by hand, and may impact on planning skills. It’s not uncommon for learning difficulties and motor-skills difficulties to co-present. For example, dyslexia and dyspraxia, or ADD/ADHD and dyspraxia can occur together.

signs of dyslexia in adults
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13 Signs of dyslexia in adults

13 Signs of dyslexia in adults

Studies suggest that 1 in 10 adults in the US and UK has dyslexia, a learning difference that can impact on working memory, reading, writing and spelling skills. In 60% of cases the dyslexia may be mild to moderate, but the remaining 40% of people can struggle with a severe form that interrupts literacy skills development when early support is not put in place.

Dyslexia is still called a learning disability in some countries, but in the UK it is increasingly referred to as a specific learning difference. The reason for this is dyslexia does not make you less able than your peers, it is simply a different way of processing language in the brain.

It’s also not related to intelligence, but dyslexia can prevent an individual from being successful due to the central role of reading and writing in mainstream education. Moreover, having earned poor marks at school or losing a job because of literacy skills can limit career options for adults, and may affect an individual’s confidence and self-esteem for years to come.

Fortunately, most problems can be overcome, even in adulthood, with the right literacy intervention, strategies and accommodations.

How to improve spelling skills
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How to improve spelling skills

How to improve spelling skills

Spelling is one of those skills that a lot of people find challenging to master. This is particularly true if English isn’t your first language. One of the main reasons spelling is so hard to learn is that English is a highly irregular language. It has borrowed words from many other tongues and anglicized their spelling in an inconsistent way.

Spelling rules such as “i before e except after c” do exist in English, as in the words receive and receipt. But there are also plenty of exceptions to these rules, such as in species and science. Moreover, knowing a rule doesn’t always mean you can operationalize it in an automatic fashion when you need to write words quickly and accurately, for example during interviews, sales-meetings or timed assessments.

helping students in special education
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3 Ways to help students in special education

3 Ways to help students in special education

There a number of reasons why a child may need to attend a special education program at school. Special education can help learners who struggle with developmental delays, such as dyspraxia or apraxia of speech, and/or children who experience challenges with literacy and numeracy because of a specific learning difference.

It may also be that a physical impairment is affecting a student’s ability to learn in the same way as his or her peers and specific accommodations and materials are necessary. The basic requirement for a program to be considered special education is that it must address the individual learner’s needs in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a mainstream classroom. But just because a child receives extra support, it doesn't mean they are less intelligent or talented than their peers.

Help a student who is struggling with math
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Students struggling with math

Students struggling with math

Many kids have trouble with math, but some students find it more difficult than others. These may be otherwise bright children who have a keen sense of logic and reasoning but still perform poorly on homework, tests, and quizzes.

Over time, repeated underperformance in math can cause a student to become demotivated and believe he or she is “stupid” or not good at the subject.

Moreover, as math is cumulative, falling behind might mean a learner misses out on much of what is taught for the rest of the school term. Having basic math skills is important, regardless of the career an individual chooses to pursue.

That’s why it’s key to identify issues early on. Given the right combination of classroom accommodations and learning strategies, every student can achieve his or her full potential in math.

How to know when handwriting problems are caused by dysgraphia or dyspraxia
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3 Common handwriting problems in children

3 Common handwriting problems in children

Learning how to write is one of the most important things a child will do when he or she begins school. That’s because writing offers a means for self-expression and reflecting on the work of others, but it’s also how knowledge and learning is measured in our society. Writing can be done on a computer or through dictation using speech-to-text technology, but it’s more common for children to learn how to write by hand. This happens between the ages of 4 and 5 and involves becoming familiar with the letters of the alphabet, mastering the pen strokes used to form letters, and practicing with holding the pen or pencil in a tripod grip.

It’s common for new writers to struggle with letter formation, spacing and posture in the beginning, but most are able to produce clear and legible text by the end of the second grade. However, there are some children who continue to struggle with the mechanics of handwriting beyond age 7 or 8. For these learners, writing is often slow and labored, and may cause high levels of stress, frustration, anxiety, and embarrassment at school.

Dyslexia programs that can help adults
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3 Dyslexia programs for adults

3 Dyslexia programs for adults

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect literacy skills in children and adults. This is because it makes it harder to break language down into its component sounds, which complicates the process of sounding words out and spelling them. It’s helpful not to think of dyslexia as an illness or a disability – despite it being called that in some countries - it’s just a different way of processing in the brain that can also impact on memory and organizational skills.

And while dyslexia can make some activities more challenging, such as reading and writing, dyslexic adults may also excel in other areas such as problem solving and creative pursuits. With the right support, including strategy training and accommodations in the classroom or workplace, every individual can achieve his or her full potential. That’s why it’s so important for adults with dyslexia to learn more about their options when it comes to choosing a literacy program, a trained tutor and/or the tools that can best support them.

What to do when you can't spell
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Help! I can’t spell.

Help! I can’t spell.

Everyone has difficulty with spelling from time to time. You might make a mistake when you use a word infrequently, or have trouble reporting a word’s spelling verbally when you’re put on the spot. These are common issues for a few reasons. One is that spelling is something we usually do in writing - delivering this information in another modality can be awkward. Two, spelling is information that we store in the brain as procedural knowledge.

This means it becomes automatic only after a person builds up extensive contact through repeat exposure to a word in reading and writing. You might have certain words you always mix up because you never learned the correct spelling, or because you wrote them incorrectly and now can’t tell the right from the wrong version. But some people struggle with spelling in a very different way.

For example, dyslexic individuals may put a word’s letters in the wrong order, miss out on a letter, or even add one that doesn’t belong. They often have difficulty spelling consistently, and can get a word right one day and not the next. This doesn’t mean they are “stupid” or “lazy,” it just means there’s something interrupting the encoding process by which words are split into their component sounds and those sounds are then mapped onto English letters.

Understanding specialist dyslexia schools and if your child needs one
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What you need to know about specialist dyslexia schools

What you need to know about specialist dyslexia schools

Many parents who have just found out their child has dyslexia ask an important question – should my child continue to attend a mainstream school or is it better to send him or her to a school that specializes in teaching students with specific learning difficulties. The first thing to be clear on is there is no right or wrong answer. That’s because no two children with dyslexia will struggle in exactly the same way and what works for one individual will not necessarily work for another.

The same goes for families who often have very practical concerns when it comes to choosing a school, particularly with regard to location and cost. It’s important to consider recommendations made by the specialist involved in the diagnostic testing, the experience your child has had at his or her current school, what the school plans to do in order to help the child achieve his or her Individual Educational Plan (IEP), and what you are prepared to do at home to help.

You’ll also want to fully explore the differences between mainstream schools and institutions that focus primarily on teaching children with specific learning differences.

Adult ADD Checklist of symptoms to look out for
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An Adult ADD Checklist

An Adult ADD Checklist

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are commonly discussed in reference to school-age children, but some estimates suggest that up to 4% of the adult population also struggles with attention difficulties. The symptoms include difficulty focusing, impulsivity, forgetfulness, and sometimes periods of hyper-focus.

Individuals with attention difficulties may have trouble sleeping and staying organized. They can be prone to emotional outbursts and can feel overly flustered and anxious when under stress. Someone with an undiagnosed learning difficulty may struggle with a secret sense of shame, believing they are not as smart or as capable as their peers. Poor impulse control is also common. Attention difficulties are not something you grow out of, but many adults develop coping skills to help them get by.

Am I dyslexic?
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Am I dyslexic?

Am I dyslexic?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect an individual’s ability to break words down into their component sounds. This, in turn, impacts on reading and spelling ability and may result in them needing extra time and/or classroom and workplace accommodations to achieve the same results as peers. However, dyslexia is not a measure of intelligence, it is just a different way of processing in the brain – and it is also associated with some positives!

For example, dyslexic individuals may possess keen analytical and problem-solving skills. They may have sophisticated spatial awareness, can be talented and creative artists, and have a knack for seeing the bigger picture. They may “think outside the box,” and be great team players. Estimates suggest up to 10% of the population has dyslexia and it is not uncommon for adults to suspect they are dyslexic, particularly if reading and writing have always been a challenge.

But like most specific learning differences, dyslexia exists on a spectrum and no two people will experience the same set or severity of symptoms. Having a diagnostic assessment can help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses and which strategies and accommodations will most benefit you.