The types of LD are identified by the specific processing problem. They might relate to getting information into the brain (Input), making sense of this information (Organization), storing and later retrieving this information (Memory), or getting this information back out (Output). Thus, the specific types of processing problems that result in LD might be in one or more of these four areas, according to the Organization of LD.
Information is primarily brought into the brain through the eyes (visual perception) and ears (auditory perception). An individual might have difficulty in one or both areas.
Auditory Perception(Receptive Language).
Some individuals might have difficulty differentiating phonemes or distinguishing them as quickly as normal (they can misunderstand your message and as a consequence respond incorrectly).They can often confuse words that sound alike (such as blue and blew or ball and bell). Others might have difficulty with auditory figure-ground (they have difficulty identifying what sound(s) to listen to when there is more than one sound (for example: you can call a child who is watching TV into the living room while you are in the kitchen. He would not answer you immediately because it takes him several minutes to pick your voice out of the other sound inputs).
As some children might have difficulty distinguishing subtle differences in sounds as seen before, others might have difficulty distinguishing differences of shapes (called graphemes). They might rotate or reverse letters or numbers thus misreading the symbol. The child may confuse similar looking letters because of these rotations or reversals: d, b, p, g, and q, may be confused with any one of the others. The word was might be perceived as saw, or dog as god. These confusions of input will show up almost immediately after the child begins to read and write.
Another child might have a "figure-ground" problem, which is difficulty in focusing on the significant figure instead of all the other visual inputs in the background. This occurs in real-life situations as well as in looking at printed matter or electronic images. For example, the child is told to pass the salt shaker but has difficulty finding it among the many dishes and platters. Children with this disability may have reading problems. They often jump over words or skip lines when reading.
Organizing position in space is another characteristic of visual perception. For example a child playing in a gym may feel confused and disoriented. He/she may have difficulty in distinguishing the left from the right.
Once the information coming into the brain is registered, it has to be understood. At least two steps are required to do this: sequencing and abstraction.
Suppose that your brain recorded the following three graphic symbols: d, o, g. No problems with visual perception. But to make sense of the perception, you have to place the symbols in the right order, or sequence. Is it d-o-g, or g-o-d, or d-g-o, or what? Then you have to infer meaning from the context in which the word is used, both a general meaning and a specific meaning. For example, the dog and your dog have very different meanings. The ability to draw general applications from specific words and to attach subtle shading to the basic meanings of words is referred to as "abstract thinking."
The process of integrating input, of understanding what your brain has recorded, thus requires both sequencing and abstraction. Your child might have a disability in one area or the other, or both. A child who has difficulty sequencing what comes in from the eyes is said to have a visual sequencing disability. So, too, the child might have difficulty with visual abstraction or auditory abstraction.
A child with such a disability might hear or read a story, but in recounting it, start in the middle, go to the beginning, then shift to the end. Eventually the whole story comes out, but the sequence of events is wrong.
Or a child might see the math problem as 16 - 3 = ? on the blackboard, but write it as 61 - 3 = ? Or a child might see 2 + 3 = ? and write 2 + 5 = 3. The child knows the right answer but gets the sequence wrong. Spelling words with all of the right letters in the wrong order can also reflect this disability.
Or a child may memorize a sequence - the days of the week, for example - and then be unable to use single units out of the sequence correctly. If you ask what comes after Wednesday, the child cannot answer spontaneously, but must go back over the whole list, "Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdayâ€¦" before she or he can answer
Abstraction - the ability to derive the correct general meaning from a particular word or symbol - is a very basic intellectual task. If the disability in this area is too great, the child is apt to be functioning at a retarded level.
Organization. An individual might have difficulty organizing materials, losing, forgetting, or misplacing papers, notebooks, or homework assignments. She might have difficulty organizing her environment, such as her bedroom. Some might have problems organizing time. They have difficulty with projects due at a certain time or with being on time. (Organization over time is referred to as Executive Function.)
There are three types of memory important to learning. The "working memory" refers to the ability to hold on to pieces of information until the pieces blend into a full thought or concept. For example, reading each word until the end of a sentence or paragraph and then understanding the full content. "Short-term memory" is the active process of storing and retaining information for a limited period of time. Short-term memory is the process by which you hold on to information as long as you are concentrating on it. For example, when you call the information operator for a long-distance number, you get a ten-digit number with an area code. The information is temporarily available but not yet stored for long-term retention. "Long-term memory" refers to information that has been stored and that is available over a long period of time. Individuals might have difficulty with auditory memory or visual memory.
One reads a sentence and hold on to it. Then the next and the next. By the end of the paragraph, he pulls together the meaning of the full paragraph. This is working memory. He continues to read the full chapter and study it. Information is retained long enough to take a test and do well. This is short-term memory. But, unless the information is reviewed and studied over a longer period of time, it is not retained. With more effort over time, the information might become part of a general body of knowledge. It is long-term memory.
Long-term memory refers to the process by which you store information that you have repeated often enough. You can retrieve this information quickly by thinking of it - you can come up with your current address and phone number quite readily, for example - or you may have to spend a little more time and effort to think or it - your mother's home address, for example.
If your child has a memory disability, it is most likely a short-term one. Like abstraction disabilities, long-term memory disabilities interferes so much with functioning that children who have them are more likely to be classified as retarded. It may take ten to fifteen repetitions for a child with this problem to retain what the average child retains in three or five repetitions. Yet the same child usually has no problem with long-term memory. Your child probably surprises you at times by coming up with details that you have forgotten about, something that happened several years ago.
A short-term memory disability can occur with information learned through what one sees - visual short-term memory disability - or with information learned through what one hears - auditory short-term memory disability. Often the two are combined. For example, you might go over a spelling list one evening with your son. He looks at it several times, listens to you, and can write down the spellings correctly from memory. He seems to have it down pat, but that's because he's concentrating on it. The next morning he has lost most or all of the words. Or a teacher may go over a math concept in class until your daughter understands it - she's concentrating on it. Yet when she comes home that night and does her homework, she has completely forgotten how to do the problems.
Information is communicated by means of words (language output) or though muscle activity such as writing, drawing, gesturing (motor output). An individual might have a language disability (also called expressive language disability) or a motor disability.
Two forms of language are used in communication, spontaneous language and demand language. You use spontaneous language in situations where you initiate whatever is said. Here you have the luxury of picking the subject and taking some time to organize your thoughts and to find the correct words before you say anything. In a demand language situation, someone else sets up a circumstance in which you must communicate. A question is put to you, for example. Now you have no time to organize your thoughts or find the right words; you have only a split second in which you must simultaneously organize, find words, and answer more or less appropriately.
It is possible to think of language output as being spontaneous or on demand. Spontaneous means that the person initiates the conversation. Thoughts have been organized and words found before speaking. Demand language means that one is asked a question or asked to explain something. Now, she must organize his thoughts, find the right words, and speak at the same time. Most people with a language disability have little difficulty with spontaneous language. However, in a demand situation, the same person might struggle to organize her thoughts or to find the right words.
Children with a specific language disability usually have no difficulty with spontaneous language. They do, however, often have problems with demand language. The inconsistency can be quite striking. A youngster may initiate all sorts of conversation, may never keep quiet, in fact, and may sound quite normal
One might have difficulty coordinating teams of small muscles, called a fine motor disability. He might have problems with coloring, cutting, writing, buttoning, or tying shoes. Others might have difficulty coordinating teams of large muscles, called a gross motor disability. She is awkward when running or jumping.
Each individual will have his or her unique pattern of LD. This pattern might cluster around specific common difficulties. For example, the pattern might primarily reflect a problem with language processing: auditory perception, auditory sequencing/abstraction/organization, auditory memory, and a language disability. Or the problem might be more in the visual input to motor output areas. Some people with LD will have a mixture of both.
If a child has difficulty in using large muscle groups, this is called a gross motor disability. Difficulty in performing tasks that require many muscles to work together in an integrated way is called a fine motor disability.
Gross motor disabilities can cause your child to be clumsy, to stumble, to fall, to bump into things, or to have trouble with generalized physical activities like running, climbing, or swimming.
The most common form of fine motor disability shows up when the child begins to write. The problem lies in an inability to get the many muscles in the dominant hand to work together as a team. Children and adolescents with this "written language" disability have slow and poor handwriting. A typical expression of this problem is, "My hand doesn't work as fast as my head is thinking."
Watch your own hand as you write something and notice the many detailed fine muscle activities that it takes to write legibly. Writing requires a constant flow of such activities. Now place your pen in your non-dominant hand and try to write. If you go very slowly, it is tedious but your handwriting is legible. If you go at a regular pace, however, your hand aches and your handwriting deteriorates immediately. Shape, size, spacing, positioning - everything about it looks awful no matter how hard you try. A child with fine motor disability goes through this all the time.
When a child has a visual perceptual problem, the brain, which has incorrectly recorded or processed information, will probably misinform the muscles during activities that require eye-hand coordination. This is referred to as a visual motor disability.