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Question:

I have a daughter who is 11 years old. Her school counselor said that she is a slow learner. I thought she is a child with Specific Learning Disability. I am confused. Can you explain the difference between the Learning Difficulty and the Slow Learner?

Answer:

I appreciate you for coming up with this question. A lot of people will have the same doubt. It is difficult to distinguish between learning disability and a slow learner. Learning disability is a neurological problem that affects the  central nervous system. It is a processing problem that affects reading,writing and/or math. They also have problem with organization, time manage-ment, reasoning, long or short-term memory and attention. Different termsfor Specific Learning Difficulty (SLD) are Dyslexia (Difficulty in reading),Dysgraphia (Difficulty in writing), Dyscalculia (Difficulty in math), Dyspraxia (Difficulty in balance and posture), Auditory Processing Disorder, Language Processing Disorder and Non verbal learning disorder (Difficulty in visual spatial organization and social skills) They have average to above average intelligence. This is known as ‘hidden disability” because they are normal and intelligent yet they are unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from their peers. Even though it is a lifelong challenge, with appropriate support and intervention they can reach age appropriate academic level. Slow Learners will take more time to grasp a concept. Their thinking skills will develop slower than the normal children. They will go through typical developmental stages but at a slower rate. They have below average intelligence. They have difficulty following multiple instructions, have immature interpersonal relationship, are kinesthetic learners, have poor self-image, works on all tasks slowly and master skills slowly. It doesn’t mean that they can’t learn, they do learn but at a slower rate.

Geetha Krishnan

Special educator

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