A learning disability is a deficiency in the acquisition of specific abilities, not associated with mental retardation nor with a sensory deficiency or pervasive developmental disorders like autism. Learning disabilities can affect oral (stuttering, dysphasia) and written (dyslexia, dysgraphia) language, math (dyscalculus) and motricity (dyspraxia). They can be caused by various factors, particularly of genetic and neurological origin, and can lead to social insertion problems. Learning disabilities can be reduced or overcome when they are handled by specialists: neuropsychologists, orthophonists and special educators.
Dyslexia is a reading learning disability that leads to writing difficulties in children of normal intelligence. At varying degrees, it affects approximately 10% of children and more specifically boys. Its causes are not clear, but they can be neurological, genetic, psychological or pedagogical. Dyslexia, generally screened at 6 to 8 years of age, leads to academic difficulties. In most cases, monitoring by an orthophonist allows the child to overcome the deficiency and attend normal schooling.
Dysphasia is an oral language learning disability, characterized by a difficulty of expression, comprehension or both, without a hearing deficiency. Communication problems with people in the child’s surroundings can lead to aggressive behavior. The diagnosis of dysphasia is generally established between the ages of 3 and 5 when the parents notice a language handicap in their child: lack of vocabulary, absence of phrases, poor pronunciation, use of miming. Treatment by an orthophonist and neuropsychologist reduces the deficiencies.
The cerebral areas implicated in written and spoken language are most often located in the left hemisphere. Anomalies in these regions or in the nervous transmission between them cause reading and language disorders (oral or written).
Attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity (ADD or ADHD) is a neurological disorder that appears during childhood and often persists to adult age. It affects approximately 5% of children and 4% of adults. Its causes are still poorly defined, but an excess of dopamine linked to a genetic predisposition is suspected.
ADD or ADHD is characterized by difficulties paying attention and concentrating, sometimes associated with hyperactivity: the constant need to move, impulsiveness, mood swings, etc. This disorder may disturb learning and social relations.
To overcome these deficiencies, the child may be supported by various professionals: psychologist, special educator, etc. Medication treatment for ADD or ADHD is still controversial.
People suffering from ADD or ADHD are often the subject of unfounded prejudices. In no case is ADD or ADHD linked to mental retardation, sensory disorders, social or affective problems, lack of motivation, immaturity or even poor education.