Emotional and Behavioural Fall-Out
Inability to process information efficiently leads to a wide range of difficulties that adversely affect many aspects of daily life, especially learning and socialising. Struggling, by unremitting effort, to cope daily is tiring, to the point of exhaustion – cognitive processing requires a great deal of energy. This means that those with learning difficulties need excellent nutrition – yet many have eating or dietary issues. Many people with brain processing issues also suffer from poor sleeping patterns, which compound their poor cognitive performance. Good quality sleep is vital for good brain processing. Many are affected by environmental factors that do not bother other people (lighting, temperature fluctuations, noise, movement etc.) that make learning even more difficult for them.
The realisation that one consistently battles, yet fails, to keep up with one's peers is humiliating and discouraging, leading to high levels of frustration, low levels of confidence and social withdrawal – especially when others mock at their failure. Some people respond with depression and hopelessness, others with resentment and aggression. Some start to clown around to cover their inadequacy, preferring to be thought silly, rather than dumb – others (deliberately or unwittingly) use “being stupid” as an avoidance mechanism – soon no-one expects them to make an effort because everyone has come to believe there is no point – they appear “unable”.
Learning disabilities can be extremely frustrating for children. They struggle to master a skill which all their friends manage with ease. Repeated failure creates feelings of anxiety. These children worry about embarrassing themselves in front of the class, or struggling to express themselves – they may often be “at a loss for words”. It can be twice as frustrating for exceptionally intelligent (gifted) children with learning disabilities – their learning disorder/s may hide their ability.
Children with learning disabilities may have trouble managing their feelings, calming themselves or reading non-verbal cues from others (tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and body-language). This can lead to problems socially and in the classroom. Social and emotional skills (rather than academic skills) are the most consistent indicators of long-term success (achievement and satisfaction) for children, so these children need understanding, support and to be taught the skills required to cope socially and emotionally.
Learning disabilities can lead to low self-confidence, isolation and behaviour problems, but they do not have to. We can counter these problems by creating a strong support system for children with learning disabilities and helping them learn to express themselves appropriately, deal with frustration, and work through challenges. By focusing on the child’s growth as a person, and not just on academic achievement, we can help the child learn good to manage emotions and understand themselves and other people – enabling them to succeed throughout life. We can also positively impact their ability to learn and improve their academic potential.
If a person loses hope and no longer believes they can overcome their problems, they never will.
They need to know that there is hope, their brain can be “re-wired” and that (with help, patience and perseverance) they can learn to achieve.
A presentation which helps parents and teachers understand what life is like in the classroom for children with learning disorders is: How Difficult Can This be? The F.A.T. City Workshop by Richard Lavoie
Please click here to download a copy of the notes from How Difficult Can This Be? The F.A.T City Workshop, by Richard Lavoie.
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