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Learning Disorder Treatments

What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a pattern of attention deficit and hyperactivity/impulsivity behaviours that impact function and development.  Inattention suggests that the individual struggles to remain on task / sustain focus, is disorganized and lacks the ability to persist.  The symptoms are not due to difficulty understanding or defiance (behaviour issues).  Hyperactivity correlates with restlessness, constant movement (in inappropriate situations), fidgeting and/or excessive talking.  Impulsive actions are also linked to ADHD.  This suggests that the individual acts without considering the impact of their actions.  This may result in social challenges and poor decision making. 

Many individuals experience some components of these symptoms.  For a person to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms must cause them to fall behind typical age-related development, be chronic (long-lasting), and impair their function.


What are symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Symptoms of inattention may include:

  • Difficulty following through with instructions, completing homework/chores/work tasks, easily sidetracked, easily distracted, does note appear to listen when directly addressed
  • Difficulty sustaining attention through school or work tasks, conversations, reading
  • Difficulty with executive functions such as organizing tasks or activities, sequencing, time management, meeting deadlines, keeping materials or belongings in order and/or sufficiently tidy, remembering ‘to do’ tasks and/or appointments
  • Losing items required for daily activities (school supplies, wallet, phone, tools, etc.)
  • Avoidance of activities requiring sustained mental effort

Symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may include:

  • Constant motion, fidgeting, squirming, unable to remain seated when it is expected, restlessness, running or climbing in inappropriate situations
  • Difficulty engaging in quiet hobbies
  • Excessive talking, interrupting others, answering questions before the question is completed, does not follow social turn taking rules, intruding on others

Please visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml for more specific information.

What is an Executive Function Disorder?

Although executive function deficits are often linked to ADHD and/or Brain Injury diagnosis, they may also occur in isolation.  ‘Executive function’ is a blanket term for brain functions such as organization, flexible thinking, thinking about thinking, time management, judgement, planning, managing behaviour, etc. 

It is important to note that executive functions are linked to the part of the brain that develops last, the frontal lobe.  The frontal lobe is believed to continue developing until the approximate age of 25.  Executive function skills develop over time as a child matures. 


What are Symptoms of an Executive Function Disorder?

Individuals who struggle with executive function deficits may experience difficulty with directing and sustaining attention, self control, managing emotions, switching between tasks, beginning tasks and waiting turns.  They may also struggle with organization, planning, time management, frustration management, difficulty with changing plans, messy room/desk/backpack, difficulty following through on plans and may act as a ‘follower’ instead of developing their own ideas and following through.  They may struggle to complete tasks within a given timeframe, struggle to work with others, struggle to explain ideas, etc. 

What is a Mathematics Learning Disorder?

A mathematics learning disorder is also called Dyscalculia.  It is believed to be as common as dyslexia, however, is not as well understood.  It is believed to be a brain-based learning disorder that impacts the individual’s ability to understand math concepts, despite having received proper teaching/instruction.  It is also occasionally referred to as ‘number dyslexia.’


What are the Symptoms of Mathematics Learning Disorders?

Individuals struggling with mathematics learning disorders may experience excessive frustration or anxiety with any math task, homework, or game that involves numbers.  They may struggle with estimation, understanding how to convert math word problems into mathematical equations, and math concepts such as addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.  They may struggle to link words to number symptoms, understand the visual-spatial concepts of measurement, interpret graphs or charts, tell time, count money, make change and remember phone numbers.  They may struggle with the basic concepts of numbers (i.e, how much is ‘8’?  What does ‘8’ mean?  Is it more or less than ‘5’?) and may also struggle with executive functions (i.e., planning and organizing).

Visit https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/understanding-dyscalculia for a more comprehensive list of symptoms.

Learning barriers can have a profound impact on an individual’s life.  Learning issues are not an indication of intelligence, but they can be a significant roadblock on the pathway to learning; particularly in that more classrooms are not equipped to customize learning to each individual’s needs.  A student who cannot learn from the classroom instruction style often disengages.  Attention and executive function suffer, social engagement may be impacted, and feelings of self-worth are decreased. 

For a student with a mathematics learning disorder, reteaching math skills in the same way that they have already been taught will not be effective.  On Cloud Nine Math is a multi-sensory math program that is designed to teach students who struggle with mathematics learning disorders.

What are Reading and Writing Disorders?

There are a wide range of possible reading, writing and spelling disorders with many different labels, including dyslexia, reading disorder or disability, dysgraphia, and more.  Reading and writing disorders often present together, as difficulty with one component impacts the ability to develop skill in the other area. 

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association categorizes deficits in the following areas:

  • Reading (word recognition (dyslexia), reading comprehension (hyperlexia))
  • Writing (writing process (dysgraphia), writing product (dysgraphia))
  • Spelling (dysorthography)
  • Spoken and written language deficits (Oral and Written Language Learning Disability)

Visit https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Written-Language-Disorders/Disorders-of-Reading-and-Writing/  for specific information about each of these issues.


What are Symptoms of Reading and Writing Disorders?

Symptoms of reading and writing disorders may include difficulty with word recognition, poor spelling, poor reading comprehension and fluency, difficulty with letter formation, sequencing, spacing, difficulty with planning, organizing and editing writing.  Difficulty applying grammatical principles, limited word choices, difficulty remembering letter patterns, and poor phonemic awareness (letter sounds) may also be noted. 

There is a wide range of symptoms that may be encountered.  It is important to note that symptoms are present despite the student having received proper educational instruction.

Learning barriers can have a profound impact on an individual’s life.  Learning issues are not an indication of intelligence, but they can be a significant roadblock on the pathway to learning; particularly in that more classrooms are not equipped to customize learning to each individual’s needs.  A student who cannot learn from the classroom instruction style often disengages.  Attention and executive function suffer, social engagement may be impacted, and feelings of self-worth are decreased. 

Schools often provide students with assistive technology support following a reading and writing disorder diagnosis.  The use of assistive technology is an excellent tool in the facilitation of learning; however, when specific learning skills are taught in collaboration with the use of technology, students have the best opportunity for educational and career success.   Renew Neurotherapy collaborates with a highly skilled interdisciplinary team to ensure that optimal assistive technology and learning strategies are identified and incorporated into an effective rehabilitation program.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder (also referred to as Sensory Integration Disorder) is a neurological condition where the nervous system struggles to process or integrate sensory information.  For example, sensory input such as touch, sight, sound, how the body feels internally, etc., may be over or under-registered. 

The brain receives all of the sensory information that is received through the body, and uses that information to construct a ‘picture’ of our world.  If certain frequencies of sound are over-emphasized, and touch is under emphasized, this impacts how the individual responds.  For example, the sound frequency may register so strongly that it is painful, and the touch may register so lightly, that the individual grips/presses/touches ‘too hard’ in an effort to get the sensory information they need.

To an individual with a well functioning nervous system, a pain response to certain sounds, or a rough grip will seem out of proportion.  To the individual with a Sensory Processing Disorder, the reactions are in proportion to what their brain and body are experiencing. 


What are the Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder?

Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder may include over or under-responsiveness to sensory information (light, sound, touch, smell, temperature, etc.).  This may cause anxiety, distress, irritability, etc.  Examples of specific symptoms may include sensitivity to certain textures of fabric or fit of clothing, food texture, fine motor difficulties, clumsiness, difficulty with change, sound and light sensitivity, etc. 

The Autism Awareness Centre https://autismawarenesscentre.com/does-my-child-have-sensory-processing-disorder/ provides additional examples. 

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