Learning Difficulties

Learning Difficulties

Different Types of Learning 

Reading Difficulties :

A parent may be the first person in a child's life to recognize a reading problem. A parent's observation is critical because some of the earliest signs that foreshadow a reading difficulty can be seen during preschool and kindergarten years.

Globally around 20% of English-speaking children reach the age of 11 unable to read confidently. Depending on who you talk to, the amount of dyslexia in the population varies from 5-15%.

Even after ten years of familiarity with that figure, we still find it amazing; one in five children unable to read the blackboard after 5 years at school. If it is the first time you have seen it, you will probably be struggling to believe it. Imagine doing 10 years at school unable to read the board.


It is a massive problem and there is a lot of confusion as to what the reasons are. For instance, it is difficult to find two definitions of dyslexia that are the same.

Sometimes parents notice difficulties during first grade because a child who's just beginning to learn to read may have trouble making associations between sounds and letters. Problems include detecting differences in speech sounds and performing tasks that require this skill, such as:

  • Pronouncing new words and remembering them
  • Breaking words apart into sounds
  • Blending sounds together to make words
  • Remembering the names and sounds of the letters

By the middle of first grade your child should be able to read at least 100 common words, such as theand, and is, and know the letter-sound associations well enough to read words in simple books. Watch for these warning signs as you listen to your child read aloud:

  • Doesn't know the sounds associated with all of the letters
  • Skips words in a sentence and doesn't stop to self-correct
  • Can't remember words; sounds out the same word every time it occurs on the page
  • Frequently guesses at unknown words rather than sounding them out
Fine Motor Difficulties :

Fine motor skills generally refer to the small movements of the hands, wrists, fingers, feet, toes, lips, and tongue. Here is a list of observable behaviors of children with fine-motor difficulties.

  • Difficulty with writing; poor grasp leading to poor form, fluency, and frequent discomfort when writing.
  • Difficulty controlling speed of movements leading to excessive speed and resultant untidy work, or work not being completed due to overly slow movements.
  • Difficulty with precision grip and inaccurate release and therefore problems with games that involve placement of pieces; for example, dominoes.
  • Difficulty with spatial relations leading to difficulties with design and copying.
  • Tearing paper and/or breaking pencils due to force-control difficulties.
  • Difficulty with learning to dress and undress.
  • Preference for outdoor activities.
  • Clumsiness and frustration: spills food; drops objects; breaks objects.
  • Frustration towards and/or resistant behavior to manipulative and graphic tasks.
  • Excessive muscular tension when performing fine-motor tasks.

Fine motor movements affect almost everything we do on a daily basis such as moving and manipulating tools and objects, preparing and eating meals, personal hygiene, communicating through writing and typing, counting change, opening doors, etc.

Fine motor skills can become impaired in a variety of ways, including injury, illness, stroke , and congenital deformities. An infant or child up to age five who is not developing new fine motor skills for that age may have a developmental disability. These problems can include major health conditions including cerebral palsy mental retardation , blindness, deafness, and diabetes. Children with delays in fine motor skills development have difficulty controlling their coordinated body movements, especially with the face, hands, and fingers.


Communication Difficulties :

A communication problem occurs when children have difficulty with :

  • Speech sounds (saying the words clearly or correctly)
  • Speaking fluently (without hesitating too much or stuttering)
  • Using words and grammar (rules about word order and use)
  • Putting words together to let others know what they think or want
  • Understanding what others say.

Learning to understand and talk occurs gradually. Most children have learned basic talking and understanding skills by the ages of 3 to 3½ years. By the time they start school (around age 5 years), their speech will also have more formal structure, including full sentences and descriptive language.

Opportunities to practise talking and listening with adults and other children help children to develop their communication skills.

There are many types of communication difficulties. These include:

  • Speech delay/disorder/impairment
  • Language delay/disorder/impairment
  • Expressive language disorder
  • Receptive language disorder

Causes of communication problems :

Parents often want to know why their child is having difficulty learning to understand and/or talk. It can be difficult to pinpoint a particular cause. In some cases, there are reasons for a child's communication problems that can be related to one or more of the following :

  • Children with low muscle tone (hypotonia) have trouble coordinating (moving) the muscles of the mouth and tongue to produce clear sounds.
  • Structural problems in the mouth, throat and nose, such as cleft palate prevent clear speech sounds.
  • Some syndromes or disabilities, such as autism, affect the development of communication skills.
  • Hearing impairment may make it more difficult for children to develop speech and language. They may require extra support or specialised teaching.
  • Children with an acquired brain injury may lose the ability to speak or understand language. This loss may be temporary or permanent, depending upon the type of injury.
  • Children with an acquired brain injury may develop specific learning difficulties that make it harder to learn to organise and express their thoughts.
  • Lack of experience or stimulation.
  • Limited opportunities to talk with others.