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Posts Tagged ‘spatial ability’

Continuing the writing difficultiesthat many children with LD face, they have poor handwriting as their finer muscle controls are bad in the initial stages and by the time they gain control over the finger muscles, the pattern would have been set and children demotivated enough by all the insults that they keep hearing that they never make an attempt to write neatly. Or occasionally, when they have received positive strokes by the teacher at school or by parents at home, sudden motivation can make them write neatly on that day for which lot of effort goes in. But it is not sustained for long as their mood gets spoilt by other demotivating comments. Hence we see lot of inconsistency in their writing. If a child has very severe degree of difficulty to write, then the child is said to have dysgraphia.

Since these children have poor spatial ability, they can not understand how much space needs to be left between words in a sentence or how much space would be required to write a longer word at the end of a line. They try their best to fit in a long word at the end of the line by over writing or by going out of alignment, or by erasing the word number of times and somehow fitting in the word that they lose precious time doing all this acrobatics!  

It becomes difficult for them to make connectivity to the next letter while using cursive style of writing (joining handwriting). Most of us are taught cursive letters of alphabet in isolation and the beginning of the stroke is always at the bottom of the line. But many a times, inside a word, these letters have to be connected from the previous letter from atop. Ex: in a word beginning with ‘o’, say, ‘owl’ or ‘toy’, the child can connect well. But if ‘o’ were to come in-between, like in ‘bowl’ or ‘vowel’, connecting ‘o’ becomes difficult. Many cursive letters pose this problem when they are positioned between two letters and the stroke has to continue from top. This makes the handwriting look clumsy.

Their writing looks clumsy because of unevenly sized letters in a word or inconsistency in maintaining the size and shape of the letters. Because of their slow speed of writing, they are always lagging behind others while writing dictation or while copying from the black board. They are unable to comprehend the rules of punctuation and capitalization of letters.

When the teacher realizes these difficulties that a child is experiencing, she should not insist on neatness, but focus on the content of the writing. As long as the writing is intelligible, she can overlook the minor errors and appreciate the content and the effort the child has put to complete the task. But unfortunately, most of the teachers insensitively scratch out all the work that the child has done with a bold red ink mark and place a remark “rewrite”, “poor handwriting, re-do” or some even tare the page into pieces, taring the self-esteem of the child into shreds!

………….. to be continued

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Let me once again make it very clear to all that the intention of my posts on Learning Disability is early identification and early intervention so that most of these kids will come out of the problem or the damages are minimized or intelligent kids are helped to make their own strategies to overcome the issues bogging them down. Please do not be hasty in labelling a child as dyslexic just because he/she shows some of the features of LD. There can be other reasons too as I have explained earlier.

Some children have very specific problem in the area of spellings or in writing or in one particular subject. The problem is then referred to as Specific Learning Disability or SLD.

Let us see what may be the indicators of LD in a child. And parents, please do not get unduly perturbed if your child shows any of these symptoms. The child may not yet have acquired these skills and given exposure and practice, it would surely catch up.

Many parents complain that the child is able to narrate the full dialogue of his/her favourite hero of a particular movie, but unable to learn three stanzas of a poemin the text book! Here we need to understand that there is no pressure upon the child to narrate the dialogues of a hero nor will the child be evaluated by anybody for at the end of this task! And the child has learnt it of his/her own free will because saying those dialogues gives the child satisfaction and he/she loves to identify with that actor that in-turn may boost his/her self-image. Whereas, the text book poem is not meaningful to the child’s life in any way, nor does it serve any personal satisfaction. Teacher has assigned this task and she is going to evaluate each child by the rendition of the poem. That may spell doom for the child for anxiety can create havoc in its mind!

Come to think of it, which are the most remembered events in our lives? I am sure each one of us have many memorable events that may or may not be significant to others! And I am sure each of those remembered event is associated with a wide variety of emotions! Yes, moments that have impacting emotions are remembered best! Some times you do not even remember what you had eaten for the morning breakfast, but would recollect with ease which coloured shirt you had worn when you dated your ‘would-be wife’ 15 years ago or even 50 years ago! or what words were exchanged between you and your girl friend in a fit of rage on that fateful evening!

Now make a story of that poem and narrate it interestingly to your child. Use many of the words that are present in the poem and in a similar sequence. Once you are able to hold your child’s attention and interest through this story, the child will soon be able to narrate the poem very well.

Some children who have LD may have problem understanding the emotionsprevailing in a situation. They will not be able to assess a situation as per the expected norm for that age. For ex: A 12 year old boy may start telling jokes to others when people may have gathered to mourn the death of somebody. or a child of 15 may not be able to gauge the intensity of his father’s anger and may wrongly place a demand for a toy at that time. This can happen because of a developmental lag in emotional maturity. This lag may persist even in adulthood. Parents may need to teach the intricacies of emotions and consequences to these children like how they would teach a lesson from a text book.

Many of these children have problems in sequencing information. For ex: they may not be able to list out the names of months in a year in their correct order. If they listen to a story, later they may not be able to narrate the happenings in the story in the right sequence. If you show them a calender and ask them to take out the page in which their Birthday would fall, they may aimlessly turn the pages without knowing where their birth month would occur.

Some of them have difficulty with directionality – the positioning in space, like confusion with up- down, next to, above-under, inside-outside etc. Most of them may have difficulty deciding the ‘right’ from the ‘left’ (laterality), reading a simple map and locating some body’s house. If the school building is very huge and students have to change classrooms for different subjects, some of them will have a tough time locating their class. They may be poor in ‘spatial ability’, ie, ‘what-fits-where‘ kind of problem in arranging puzzle pieces.

Children with LD may have poor temporal concept. They may be unable to gauge the period of time that needs to elapse between two events. Suppose their Birthday falls in the month of May, from January they start asking their mother when May would come? If they are having their tests in a week’s time, they may not have the concept of how long or short they have to wait to write the test.  They may have difficulty reading a clock, understanding the time concept and managing the time available to them.

…………….. to be continued

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