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children in the U.S. has a learning disability and nearly 3 million have ADHD. Most of them are between the ages of 5 and 21, males whose mothers have less than 12 years of education, of poor health and socio-economically disadvantaged. One in every 25 or 30 school children in one classroom will have a learning disability. Learning disabilities also persist for a lifetime. At present, these affected children and adults can only be helped to make the best use of their skills and themselves through stimulants and psychotherapy as well as the combined support of their families, school, community and public services.
Learning disabilities in children and adults have yet to be thoroughly understood and adequately contained.
A learning disability generally refers to one of specific kinds of learning problems, such as the difficulty in learning and using certain skills (NICHCY 2002). These trouble areas are often reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning and math and vary from person to person. Behavioral experts and educators believed that certain individuals developed learning disabilities, not because they are dumb, lazy or uncooperative, but because their brains work and process information differently (NICHCY). As a matter of fact, most of them were of average or above-average intelligence.
There are no sure signs or clues that a child or person has a learning disability. Experts must observe how far that child or person performs in school and how far he or she can do with the use of his or her intelligence and abilities (NICHCY). The child or adult may have difficulty learning the alphabet, rhyming words or associating letters with their corresponding sounds, make reading mistakes and pause often, not understand what he or she reads, have problems with spelling and handwriting, learn language late and develop a limited vocabulary and association between sounds of letters. He or she may also have problems in understanding jokes, cartoons and in following directions (NICHCY).
The two most common types of learning disabilities are Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD, considered America's leading childhood psychiatric disorders (NICHCY) in the last two decades. These disorders have raised the need for special education services to almost 42% in the last decade, strongly pointing to faulty but subtle societal or educational and cultural forces that could have produced the condition in the last many years (NICHCY).
Learning disabilities or LD are quite common. One in five persons in the U.S. has a learning disability (NICHCY), numbering almost three million with ages 5 to 21, and they receive special education in school. More than half of all who receive special education, in fact, have a learning disability (U.S. Department of Education 2000 as qtd in NICHCY). This is quite alarming, because there has yet to be a cure for learning disabilities. They are as yet viewed as a lifetime condition, being new. But those with ld are high-achievers who can be taught ways of dealing with their condition. What is needed is to develop those ways. But first, learning disabilities have to be better known and understood before anything can be done about them.
Studies showed that there was a greater risk for special education placement for learning disability among males, aged 12 to 14, whose mothers had less than 12 years of education (Blair 2002). Findings of these studies imply that boys are more than twice need special education placement than girls in those ages. Placement records confirmed these findings and reported that 73% of those on special education for LDs were indeed boys and 39% had mothers with less than 12 years of education (Blair).
Other studies linked LDs with low socioeconomic status and low socioeconomic status with poor health and development outcomes (Blair). Low income takes a toll on physical and mental health and raises mortality and morbidity. These studies also found a connection between LD and the social causation of disease, such as phonemic awareness in relation to early reading, which would be lacking in that socioeconomic situation (Blair). But a child with more provisions for both health and stimulating interaction is almost unlikely to develop LD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, on the other hand, becomes observable when the child is in preschool or in the early school years (NIMH 2003). Children with this disorder find it hard to control their behavior and pay attention. The estimate is that 3 to 5% or approximately 2 million children in the U.S. have ADHD, which means that in each classroom with 25 to 30 children, there will be at least one child with this disorder (NIMH). Its chief symptoms are inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity, similar to those of other disorders. Thorough examination and diagnosis by reliable experts are needed to determine if a child or adult really has ADHD.
ADHD develops from environmental factors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and lead; brain injury or structure; food additives and sugar; and genetics (NIMH). Its symptoms are similar to those of learning disability or LD, Tourette Syndrome, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety and depression, and bipolar disorder (NIMH).
Parents must know more about LD. They have to be liberal with praise when their child with LD does something well (NIMH). Children with LD are often skilled at something and their parents should find out where their child is good at and provide him or her with optimum opportunity to pursue this interest or skill. Parents can discover where their child's best skills are. They should, however, let the child perform household chores in order to help him or her develop self-confidence and concrete skills (NIMH). But his or her priority should be his or her homework. Parents should also pay attention to their child's mental health so that he or she can learn how to deal with frustration, how to feel good about himself or herself and develop social skills (NIMH). Parents will also find much help by talking to parents of other children with LD. Teachers can work on the child in a similar way in school by identifying both the weaknesses and strengths of the child.
The child or person with ADHD similarly faces a lifetime of struggle and can achieve his or her full potential only with the combined support, guidance and understanding of his or her parents, teachers, guidance counselors and the public school system (NIMH). The condition is viewed as enduring into adulthood.
Children with LDs may be helped by specific supports or changes in the classroom called "accommodations (NICHCY)" in the form of tips for teachers, assistive low-tech or high-tech technology, such as reading machines and voice recognition systems, which will allow the affected children to write as they talk with the computer. But he or she will need the combined resources of his family, teacher and community.
There is no single treatment for children (and adults) with ADHD, on the other hand. One regimen works with one and not with another, especially when the disorder is accompanied by anxiety or depression, in which case medication and behavioral therapy must be combined (NICHCY). The child's or person's history must be the basis for determining the approach and regimen. For decades, stimulants have been used to treat ADHD symptoms. The most commonly used among these stimulants is Ritalin, although non-stimulants have been introduced in view of the widespread mis-use of Ritalin, which works on the neurotransmitter Dopamine. One such non-stimulating medication is Stratteras, which works instead on the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Experts believe that both neurotransmitters are involved in the mechanism of ADHD and have yet to undertake comparative tests between them. Off-hand, though, there have been reports that 70% of ADHD children experienced improvement of their symptoms, reduced their impulsiveness and enhanced their attention and focus in school (NIMH).
Medical experts assured parents that taking these stimulants would not lead to addiction in their children. These are synthesized into short- and long-term use to adjust to the duration requirement of the child or adult.
It is more complicated to treat an adult with ADHD. They usually see a psychologist or psychiatrist for depression or anxiety, school, work or emotional problems. It may only be then that his childhood-onset, persistent and current symptoms can be diagnosed by the expert (NIMH) who must be well-versed in the field of attention dysfunction. The conclusion can be reached only after thorough investigation of his or her childhood behavior and interview with his or her spouse, parents, close friends and associates. An accurate diagnosis alone can bring on a better perception of himself or herself and out of a low self-esteem. The expert may combine medication and psychotherapy in treating his or her condition in order to cope with deep-seated anger and other emotions. Treatment will largely consist in stimulant medications that will regulate the two neurotransmitters responsible for learning difficulties. In some cases, antidepressants are prescribed. Buproprion is one antidepressant of choice in that it has proved to be effective in clinical trials to control depression and reduce…[continue]
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