Learning Disorders

Natural treatments for adult and child learning disabilities and learning disorders.

natural treatment for learning disorders

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  1. What are Learning Disorders?
  2. Diagnosing a Learning Disorder
  3. What Causes Learning Disorders?
  4. Help for Learning Disorders
  5. More Information on Learning Disorders

What is a Learning Disorder?

A learning disorder is a neurological disorder that affects the ability to receive, process, analyze, or store information.

Children with learning disorders may be just as intelligent or even of greater intelligence than their peers, but often struggle to learn as rapidly as those around them.

Problems associated with mental health and learning disabilities often include difficulty in reading, writing, spelling, recalling, and reasoning, as well as impaired motor skills and problems with mathematical concepts.

Children with untreated learning disorders often fall behind at school and miss out on the fundamental building blocks needed for further learning. Their self esteem can also be affected as they see themselves trying harder than other children, but not getting the reward of good grades or praise from their parents and teachers.

Similarly, an untreated learning disability can cause great psychological anguish for an adult.

While this is often a life-long condition for which there is no quick-fix cure, there are many learning solutions in which a person can be trained to cope with mental health and learning disabilities, and still succeed.

Common Learning Disorders

Dyslexia – is a learning disorder that affects reading and/or writing ability. This is a language-based disability where a person has trouble understanding written words.

Dyscalculia – is a learning disorder that affects mathematical ability. A person with dyscalculia often has difficulty solving math problems and grasping the basic concepts of arithmetic.

Dysgraphia – is a disability in writing, regardless of the ability to read. People with dysgraphia often struggle with writing the shapes of letters or writing within a defined space. This may also be accompanied by other fine motor-skill difficulties.

Auditory and visual processing disorders – these are learning disorders involving sensory disabilities. While a person may be able to see and/or hear normally, these disorders prevent them from making sense of what they see and hear. They will often have difficulties in understanding language, either written or auditory (or both).

Nonverbal learning disabilities – these learning disorders result in problems with visual-spatial, motor, and organizational skills. Commonly they result in difficulties in comprehending nonverbal communication and interactions, which can result in social problems.

Specific language impairment (SLI) – a developmental disorder affecting language acquisition and usage.


Diagnosing a Learning Disorder

Since children’s brains are more flexible than adults, they can often learn new strategies and are able to re-train their minds to think in more constructive ways. Because this brain elasticity decreases with age, it is important to seek help as early as possible.

As a general rule, the younger the age of diagnosis of mental and learning disabilities, the more successful the treatment will be. Children who are diagnosed in kindergarten can often completely overcome their problems with remedial help.

Those diagnosed only in later school years may be taught ways of compensating for the disability and techniques to help them cope – but the likelihood of completely overcoming the disorder decreases with time.

Recognizing the Symptoms of a Learning Disorder

Symptoms Displayed in Young Children

  • Slower speech and vocabulary development compared to other children
  • Problems with pronunciation
  • Difficulty learning numbers, the alphabet, shapes, and colors
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Motor skill difficulties
  • Easily distracted
  • Problems with social interaction

Symptoms Displayed in Older Children

  • Slow to learn letter-sound association
  • Constant reading, writing, or spelling mistakes
  • Difficulty in math and confusing arithmetic signs (i.e. mistaking the symbol + for the symbol x)
  • Slow to learn new skills
  • Accident prone and unaware of spatial surroundings
  • Poor concentration
  • Spends a longer time on schoolwork and homework than their peers
  • Reverses letter sequence and struggles with mirror image letters (such as b and d or p and q)
  • Avoids reading out loud
  • Struggles with word problems
  • Poor handwriting
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Poor grades

Symptoms Displayed in Teenagers and Adults

  • Avoidance of reading and writing tasks
  • Misreads things
  • Spelling problems
  • Works slowly
  • Struggles with abstract concepts
  • Memory problems

It is usually a teacher or parent who first notices that a child may have a learning disorder. School performance typically drops when the work becomes increasingly difficult and the child might struggle with school work that they should find easy.

In some cases, children are fairly adept at concealing or compensating for their difficulties, and they may only become evident when the work level becomes too much to cope with.

A person with a learning disorder is characterized with the following:

  • Noteworthy delay in academic achievement, despite average or above average IQ
  • Severe information-processing deficits
  • Actual academic achievement and ability is substantially lower than what is age-appropriate and in accordance with IQ and education

If you suspect that your child has a learning disorder, it is advisable to contact your child’s school and arrange to meet with some of his or her teachers. They should be able to give you a clearer picture of your child’s learning difficulties as well as abilities, and provide learning solutions.

A medical check-up is also advised so that hearing and visual problems can be ruled out. If after doing these things you are still concerned, make an appointment with a clinical or educational psychologist who will be able to do an accurate assessment of your child.


What to Expect During a Learning Disorder Assessment

In the first appointment, the psychologist will take a full history of your child, including information about pregnancy, birth and early milestones. A family history will also indicate whether this is a problem that has occurred before in the immediate or extended family.

Take along past school report cards or any reports of previous assessments of your child. Most psychologists like both parents to be present at the first appointment if possible.

Based on the information gained, the psychologist will select a variety of psychometric tests which will help to give a comprehensive picture of your child’s functioning. These tests will probably only be administered in future appointments – not on the first day.

Depending on the tests selected and the age of your child, the assessment process may require your child to attend a few testing sessions. The psychometric tests may include both written and oral sub-tests and even an emotional assessment, should this be indicated.

Most children thoroughly enjoy the testing sessions, which are especially designed to be as enjoyable and non-threatening as possible.

Once the tests have all been completed, the psychologist may need some time to score and analyze them before compiling a report – which will be explained to you in a feedback appointment. Once again, psychologists prefer that both parents attend the feedback session if possible.

Depending on the outcome of the assessment, your child may be referred to remedial specialists (e.g. occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, remedial teachers). If emotional problems have been identified, a course of therapy with the psychologist may also be recommended.

If a diagnosis of mental health and learning disabilities is confirmed, make sure that you ask about treatment options and coping mechanisms that you can explore. There are a number of educational interventions and learning techniques that will assist your child with educational and social problems and it is important that you ask questions and receive full and satisfactory answers.


What Causes a Learning Disorder?

No one is absolutely sure what causes learning disorders.

Research has shown that there are a number on factors which may play a role, for instance:

  • Genetics – Learning disorders tend to run in families.
  • Brain development and damage – Some research has shown that learning disabilities may be caused by problems in brain development, both before and after birth. Low birth weight, lack of oxygen, maternal drug or alcohol abuse, smoking during pregnancy, premature birth, malnutrition, as well as poor prenatal care may be involved with the development of learning disabilities. Young children who sustain head injuries may also be at risk of developing a learning disorder.
  • Environmental factors - Environmental toxins have been implicated as a possible cause of learning disorders. The developing fetus, infants, and young children are especially vulnerable to the damage caused by these toxins. Some toxins implicated include certain food additives and preservatives, cigarette smoke, mercury, and lead. Poor nutrition in early life may also lead to learning disabilities later in life.

Help for Learning Disorders

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Every child is unique, so treatment options often vary depending on the type of disorder and the severity of the symptoms.

Discuss the options with the child's psychologist and teachers and look for a learning solutions treatment plan that will best suit their needs.

Most treatments for learning disorders involve educational interventions and behavioral skills training. A teaching program can be designed to help a child learn new strategies in the subjects he or she struggles with. As mentioned, in some cases, where self-esteem and confidence has been affected, psychological counseling may be of benefit.

Used in conjunction with psychological and educational interventions, natural remedies can offer a great deal of support in coping with a learning disorder.

While conventional drugs are not generally available to those suffering with learning disorders, natural products are readily available, virtually free of side effects, and are much safer than prescription medication.  

These products are tailored to suit the needs of the individual child and can greatly assist in treating learning difficulties. Some well-known and commonly recommended natural remedies for increased concentration, brain functioning, and memory include Rosemary, Centella asiatica, and other homeopathic ingredients, including a variety of biochemic tissue salts.

As noted above, it is important to seek help as early as possible if you notice your child struggling with learning or school work. If diagnosed early, treatment and schooling assistance can help your child lead a normal and successful school life.

More Information on Learning Disorders

Other Conditions Related to Learning Disorders

In many cases, learning disorders are accompanied by ADHD or ADD (which are not considered learning disorders but are interrelated). It is important to get a thorough assessment so that any co-existing problems may be addressed. These may include:


Tips for Coping with a Learning Disorder
  • Become actively involved in your child’s learning.
    Encourage games that involve reading, math, or a special skill that your child lacks. Keep in contact with teachers so that you are aware of any changes and progress.
  • Encourage and praise your child’s strengths and interests.
    Help him or her to use these as compensations for their disabilities.
  • Create an area in your home that is a suitable learning environment.
    Make sure it is organized and quiet so that your child can focus on the problem at hand.
  • Have realistic expectations of your child.
    Do not put added pressure on children to succeed, but praise them when they do.
  • Listen to your child’s problems and concerns.
    Having a learning disorder comes with emotional struggles that children often need to talk about.


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