According to experts, there are 12 million people living with learning disabilities in Nigeria, and 6 million are reported to be children . This shows that it is a common disability that affects both the young and old. There are a lot of people with this condition who do not know they are affected, because enough awareness has not been created for people in Nigeria. In a typical Nigerian educational setting, only physical disabilities are recognized, therefore children with learning disabilities or difficulties would probably be termed as dumb, lazy, slow etc, or even maltreated in some cases, due to continuous failure in school, because their parents or teachers are not aware of the disabilities their wards may have. Therefore, it is very important to create awareness about these disabilities, so that it can be taken care of while children suffering from it are still young.
Learning disability is a neurological disorder that causes learning difficulties that are not associated with physical disabilities. This does not necessarily mean that people affected with this condition will not be capable of learning, it only means that they are not capable of learning in the typical manner, because of the way their brain works, meaning they can only learn in a different way. Although this condition cannot be cured as it is life long, it can be maintained greatly. Learning disability itself is often referred to as ‘intellectual disability’, as there are other difficulties like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia. These other forms of learning disabilities are referred to as ‘Learning difficulties’. It is important to note that people suffering from learning disabilities are not dumb or unintelligent, they in fact are usually of average or above average intelligence. They only need the necessary facilities and professional care. Some of the signs of of learning disabilities include; difficulty in spelling at certain ages compared to other classmates, hardship in concentrating and staying organized, speech delay, difficulty in writing legibly, inability to read or comprehend, problems maths and also with following directions and remembering.
There are different types of learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities, and I will be highlighting a few below;
1. Dyslexia: This is one of the most common learning disabilities and is sometimes referred to as Language-Based Learning Disability or Reading Disorder.It affects the obtainment and processing of language, it often comes in different stages and severity. It is characterized by difficulty in reading, spelling, comprehension, writing, and remembering. It is life long like the other disabilities but it can also be controlled.
2. Dysgraphia: This relates to writing. It causes difficulty in writing and thinking at the same time, it also causes bad handwriting, poor spacing and spelling.
3. Dyspraxia: This is a condition that affects the brain and causes difficulty in muscle control, planning and coordinating physical movements, and also problems with language and speech. Dyspraxia is not a learning disability, but it exists with other learning disabilities. It often causes children to be clumsy. There are different types of dyspraxia which include the following;
•Ideomotor dyspraxia: Difficulty in performing single step motor skills like saying goodbye
• Ideational dyspraxia: Difficulty
in conceptualizing, planning and
executing a sequence of activities like
laying a bed.
• Oromotor dyspraxia: It is a speech
disorder that causes problems in
coordinating the muscles needed in
pronouncing words. They often have
difficulty in understanding because
they cannot pronounce.
• Constructional dyspraxia: It causes
kids to have difficulty in drawing,
assembling and and building.
4. Dyscalculia: This is a brain disorder that causes severe difficulty in solving mathematical problems and learning maths facts.
5. Visual Perceptual Deficit: It causes difficulty in understanding information taken by the eyes i.e information seen, or ability to draw or copy. It is often seen in people suffering from dysgraphia.
6. Auditory Processing Disorder APD: This is a disorder that affects the processing of speech. It is a hearing problem that causes kids to be unable to process information they hear the way other kids do. They have difficulty in making sense of sounds and knowing where sounds come from.
7. Non Verbal Learning Difficulties: It causes problems with translating verbal signs like body languages and facial expressions. It is a neurological disorder that results in high difference between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual spatial and social skills.
There are a few other Learning difficulties other than the ones above. It is important to note the these conditions cannot be cured but can be corrected and maintained by enrolling in Learning disability schools all over the country. I’ll be putting the links to the websites of a few Learning disabilities organization here in Nigeria, so as to learn more information and make enquiry about them.
Both governmental and nongovernmental organizations will need to come together to create awareness for people’s suffering from learning disabilities or difficulties, so that they may get the necessary and needed attention, equipment, and conducive environment for them to learn. It is extremely terrible seeing children with disabilities suffer from numerous punishments in schools all, because their teachers are not aware of their conditions. It is therefore necessary to equip parents, teachers and guardians with knowledge about Learning disabilities, so that they can discover early enough in kids, and look into it. Children are the leaders of tomorrow, they should therefore be given the all the necessary attention and care.