A Specific Learning Disorder disrupts the normal pattern of learning academic skills due to the involvement of underlying difficulties that are not simply due to inadequate opportunities or instruction.
The following points are very important to consider with regards to specific learning difficulties:
- · They do not include intellectual disabilities.
- · They result from impairments in one or more processes related to perceiving, thinking, remembering or learning.
They can manifest at a mild, moderate or severe level of difficulty in areas such as:
- · Reading with regards to word recognition and word decoding and reading accuracy, fluency and comprehension.
- · Written expression.
- · Spelling.
- · Arithmetic calculation and mathematical reasoning (solving math problems).
- · They are life-long in their duration.
- · They are neurobiological and/or genetic in origin.
It is important to identify slower than expected progress in specific academic areas as early as possible. A referral for an evaluation should then occur in order to provide clarity about the involvement of underlying learning difficulties and the need for effective intervention and support.
A psycho-educational assessment by an educational psychologist is frequently required to provide a holistic view of potential difficulties eg. mental, physical, emotional and social difficulties. Referrals to specialists for appropriate intervention are made subsequent to the above assessment eg. speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and remedial therapists.
ADHD is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood.
A triad of symptoms is present on a mild, moderate or severe level involving inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. These symptoms must be present for at least six months and must create significant difficulties in at least two settings such as at home, school or work.
There are three presentations of ADHD, depending on the presence or absence of particular symptoms:
- · ADHD - Predominantly Inattentive Presentation
- · ADHD - Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation
- · ADHD - Combined Presentation
ADHD children often struggle with low self-esteem, difficult relationships and poor academic performance. They tend to be more accident-prone than children who don't have ADHD.
Some of the conditions that can be associated with ADHD are:
- · Specific learning disabilities.
- · Anxiety, excessive worrying and nervousness.
- · Depression.
- · Moodiness, irritability and an intolerance of frustration.
- · Defiant, oppositional behaviour toward authority figures.
Early diagnosis and treatment of ADHD can make a substantial difference to the achievement of desired outcomes. The difficulties associated with ADHD such as inattentiveness and distractibility can become far more pronounced if appropriate and effective intervention is not implemented.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Different modes of psychotherapy are used to treat problems requiring change and needing new ways of dealing with daily living. The personal meanings we give to experiences in our lives are often learned from childhood and are also influenced by our experiences to influence thinking, emotions and behaviour. The inventor behind this mode of therapy was Aaron Beck, a psychiatrist (1960). This mode has gained popularity as more and more research was done demonstrating clearly that it not only works at the time of the problem but sustains the change made. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a practical, quick goal-orientated, here-and-now way of solving problems.
What we think and do affects the way we feel. Sometimes we can get stuck in a vicious cycle of thinking, which drives negative feelings and dysfunctional thinking and behaviour. We also experience bodily sensations and an emotional reaction. The goal of CBT is to notice the bodily sensation, change patterns of thinking or behaviour related to the problem and thus change the way you feel.
The therapist and client work closely together to find new strategies to deal with clinical issues such as anxiety, obsessive behaviour, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, trauma and insomnia. Educational problems such as procrastination, exam anxiety, oral presentations and sport can also be addressed using CBT. A set of principles are applied and practiced to use like a toolbox in your head in practical daily activities. The idea is to change dysfunctional, negative, learned ideas and assumptions that are automatic conversations in the mind.
A family is a unique social system with its own habits and patterns of functioning. Each one has its own belief system, value system and behaviour. A family has a personality. The system is made up of each member with a personality. Each person influences the family and the family, in turn influence the person.
Whilst we work on the principle of focusing on the best interest of individuals we call “the index person” referred to us, we like to consider the whole family through the process when treating clients, where possible. A problem in one member is often a symptom of change or conflict in others. We thus like to work together with families towards common goals if this is possible. Frequently a good family system with solid supportive parenting is a place of healing in itself. Conversely dysfunctional, chaotic families can influence and individual adversely.
In collaboration over the last 8 years we have become aware of the need for parenting group work. We are exploring starting a group in March 2017 but before we do, rather than have an agenda or use a model, we would like to get an idea of the need for parents for something like a workshop for parents that will not only address special needs such as parenting children with learning problems or behavioural problems but also addresses contemporary parenting styles and the challenges parents face in this technological and time-urgent era. We invite parents in our area, who will attend a Saturday morning workshop to connect and have conversations with us on these matters in order to assess their needs as we prepare to launch the first workshop in March. We feel to be prescriptive may miss the real needs out there. We are keen to make sure all caretakers who are in “parenting” roles attend to ensure open communication and understanding.For more information please visit out Facebook page
Facilitation of subject choice for grade 10
Making appropriate subject choices for grade 10 can often be highly intimidating and overwhelming for grade 9 learners.
An assessment process that is geared towards assisting learners with the above process can be highly beneficial by providing clarity about:
- · Aspects of their personality such as how they relate to people, process information, make decisions and organize their lives.
- · Their levels of interest or disinterest in activities.
- · Their competence levels in activities.
- · Their interest levels in subjects they are presently taking.
- · Their interest levels in various occupations.
- · Teacher recommendations about suitable candidates for their subjects.
- · Appropriate career choices and tertiary study paths.
Individual feedback sessions involving the students and parent(s) are essential. A lot of discussion occurs during these times to provide further clarity about the results of the assessment and what they are saying about grade 10 subject choices and future career possibilities.
The final process involves a report that details the findings of the assessment and the recommendations for subject choice and possible career paths.