"It's well known that the cause of ADHD is strongly genetic but also linked to brain development, experts said. While previous studies have shown that in-utero exposure to ischemic-hypoxic conditions — complications that deprive the brain of oxygen — often lead to brain injury and developmental problems, Kaiser Permanente's study published in Pediatrics journal shows children who experience prenatal IHCs have a 16 percent greater chance overBy LINDA HIMELSTEIN
After her 12-year-old son spent two years at a specialized school for children with learning disabilities, Lisa Lunday decided he was ready for a more challenging, mainstream environment. The school she chose, however, required all students to study Japanese as part of its academically rigorous curriculum. Ms. Lunday was unsure how her son, who is dyslexic, would cope.
The result surprised her. The boy, now 13, excelled in his Japanese studies. His lettering of Japanese characters was sharp and distinct. That was in stark contrast to his writing in English, which appeared to be the work of a kindergartner. Sometimes his English letters were so poorly composed that they were hard to read, a common problem among dyslexics.
"I looked at his Japanese binder and was amazed at how perfectly formed everything was," says Ms. Lunday, of San Mateo, Calif. "Just comparing two pieces of paper tells the story."
Experiences like that of the Lundays are providing scientists and educators with clues about how people with dyslexia learn and how best to teach them. Researchers have long observed that some dyslexics have an easier time with languages like Japanese and Chinese, in which characters represent complete words or ideas, than they do with languages like English, which use separate letters and sounds to form words.
A 12-year-old dyslexic boy in San Mateo, Calif., has difficulty writing in English, his native language. But in his Japanese studies class he is able to compose characters sharply and distinctly. Scientists say Japanese symbols are more like pictures than letters, which can be easier for many dyslexics to reproduce.
A 12-year-old dyslexic boy's English assignment, where he defines the idiom 'an eye for an eye.'
In the English assignment, the boy defines the idiom "an eye for an eye" as: Revenge or punishment exactly like the original crime or offense. He also writes a scenario: Bob traded an eye for an eye when he took his sister's [the next word is unreadable] and she threw it at him.
The boy's Japanese characters are neatly formed.
The boy's Japanese characters, left bottom, are neatly formed, as he practices symbols that represent syllable sounds, like ka and shi.
Now, recent brain-imaging studies are identifying possible reasons for the differences, and education experts say such research could point the way to improved teaching techniques.
"There are very real differences in the brain's reading circuit for an alphabet as opposed to a language like Chinese," says Maryanne Wolf, a professor of child development and director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Dyslexics "think visually. They analyze patterns," she says.
Character-based languages are mastered through memorization, a skill that dyslexics tend to rely on more than do typical language learners, says Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity in New Haven, Conn. And language characters are more like pictures than letters, which can be easier for many dyslexics to reproduce, she says.
Dyslexia, the most common of all learning disabilities, is a neurologically based disorder that causes difficulties in language-related tasks. It occurs regardless of a person's intelligence or level of education. As many as one in five people have dyslexia to some degree, according to the Connecticut Longitudinal Study, a long-term study of about 450 school-age children that concluded in the early 2000s.
A study of school-age children published last year in Psychological Science compared how good readers and dyslexic readers learn language. Using brain-imaging technology, researchers at the Yale Center found that when people with dyslexia read in English they rely on the same region of the brain as do readers of kanji, a character-based language in Japan.
By contrast, a somewhat different region of the brain is used by good English readers as well as by children reading kana, another Japanese language, but one in which each character represents a sound, as in English.
"People with dyslexia have difficulty splitting words into their component sounds," a skill known as decoding, says Claudia Koochek, the head of the Charles Armstrong School in Belmont, Calif., which specializes in teaching children with language-based disabilities.
Learning experts don't suggest that studying Chinese or Japanese will help dyslexics learn to read English; there's no getting around the fact that reading English well requires being able to identify and blend sounds. But improved understanding of the way dyslexics absorb character-based languages may help educators fashion curricula.
The Arrowsmith School, a Toronto-based school for children with learning disabilities, says it asks students as part of its reading program to memorize words and characters in a variety of languages, including Chinese.
Annette Goodman, Arrowsmith's chief education officer, says the exercise is aimed at strengthening visual memory, one part of the brain dyslexics rely on for language tasks. That, in turn, can help them overcome some specific reading challenges, such as learning irregular English words that don't follow typical letter patterns, like 'school' or 'laugh,' she says.
"The purpose is not to teach language. It is to treat dyslexia," Ms.Goodman says.
Dr. Wolf, whose research center also teaches children with dyslexia, says that understanding the different ways in which dyslexics' brains are wired has helped her adapt teaching programs for their needs. Repetition is important, she says, to help dyslexic kids memorize visual patterns of words and letters. Dyslexics may need 10 times as much exposure to the language patterns as do traditional learners, she says.
In dyslexics, some essential connections between the right and left sides of the brain are weaker or slower than in typical learners, Dr. Wolf says. To get around this, she says she attempts to simulate these connections by engaging the kids in a wide range of simultaneous exercises, including teaching letters, sounds, words and their meanings.
Dyslexics exhibit a wide range of problems with reading and writing language, and future research will be aimed at enabling teachers to tailor their approaches to each dyslexic learner, Dr. Wolf says. Through a combination of brain imaging, genetics, linguistics and educational know-how, she expects interventions will increasingly become early and personalized.all of developing ADHD."
Memory in Children
Just as adults do, children often suffer from short-term memory loss. Children who have low self-confidence or low self-esteem are much more apt to suffer from memory loss than other children, and also children who have audio or visual problems are also more liable to find themselves dealing with these sorts of problems.
Short Term Memory in Children
When it comes to short term memory in children, there have actually been several different studies which have explored the relationship between short term memory skills and speech and language development. These studies have presented data from a series of individual case studies of children who suffer with developmental speech and language difficulties.
There is no single treatment that is considered as being the cure-all for short term memory in children. Rather, as a parent you should be combining one or more of the most effective techniques to improve memory in order to help your child as much as possible.
The best way to start is to make sure that your child is active and using their brain a lot. In the technologically advanced world that we live in today, our children are spending a large amount of time on the computer, and although the computer can definitely be educational and useful, many children simply use it to chat or check their email, and these sorts of activities are not exactly memory improving.
For short term memory in children you should have them participating in games and activities that are going to stimulate and awaken their mind. From crossword and jigsaw puzzles to match and trivia games, there are many easy and enjoyable activities that you can get your children involved in to help improve their memory, and they can even do these sorts of activities on the computer if this is what they want.
It is important to remember however even with short term memory in children that it is often the sign of something much more serious. Children suffering with memory loss are often suffering from a form of dementia which has not yet been noticed either by parent or practitioner, and so if you notice that your child is starting to have difficulties remembering things lately you should get them in to see your doctor as soon as you can so that they can get checked out and you can be assured that nothing more serious is wrong with their health
Learning Disorders affect approximately 5% of all children in the U.S. These disorders are characterized by significant difficulties in 3 academic areas: reading, math and writing. They are diagnosed by using scores from standardized tests in which reading, math and writing abilities are measured for the individual child. In order to be diagnosed with a Learning Disorder, a child must score substantially lower than would be expected for age, development, IQ and education. Additionally, the difficulties experienced must significant complicate educational achievement and functioning in other areas of daily life that require the use of reading, math or writing skills (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Learning Disorders include:
Disorder of Written Expression
Atypical Learning Disorders
More than one learning disorder can occur in the same child; however, since each disorder is specific to a particular skill, they are discussed here in brief and individually.
Reading Disorder is characterized by reading achievement that is significantly below that of other children who are the same age and have similar intelligence levels and educational backgrounds. Reading achievement includes the accuracy of reading skills and the comprehension of what is read. Reading achievement is measured by the administration of standardized testing.
Mathematics Disorder is characterized by difficulties in understanding ‘reading problems’ that use language to describe math problems, perceiving numbers and other symbols used in math, conceptualizing the various math functions, remembering math operations such as adding, dividing and other math skills such as copying figures and symbols or counting. Mathematics Disorder is diagnosed using standardized testing that measures such abilities. The diagnosis is given when test scores are substantially lower than other children of the same age who have comparable intelligence and educational backgrounds.
Disorder of Written Expression is a writing disorder that is characterized by difficulties such as impairments in learning to write, in remembering the proper sequence of written letters or words or in copying letters or words. Similarly, children with this disorder may have difficulty writing what is heard, understanding the use of punctuation and the organization of sentences and paragraphs. Spelling errors and poor handwriting are common. This disorder is diagnosed with the use of standardized testing. A child must score at a substantially lower level in writing abilities than do children of the same age with comparable intelligence and educational backgrounds.
Atypical Learning Disorder or Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) is a learning disability that may include problems in all 3 areas (reading, math and writing), but does not specifically meet requirements for one of the other disorders listed here.
Other Conditions that Frequently Occur with Learning Disorders
Children with Learning Disorders are at risk for low self-esteem, depression, poor social skills, anxiety and behavioral problems. Some disorders that frequently occur with Learning Disorders are Conduct Disorder, ADHD, clinical depression and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Additionally, there may be cognitive difficulties such as problems with attention and memory or problems processing language and visual information. Medical conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome, fragile X syndrome or heavy metal poisoning have also been associated with a high incidence of learning disabilities.
The Impact of Learning Disorders upon Children and Their Families
Children with Learning Disorders are at great risk for academic failure and dropping out of school. The dropout rate for children with these disorders may be as high as 40% (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Consequently, academic and occupational goals are compromised. Further, children with Learning Disorders may not be able to overcome their disabilities and will become adults who continue to have significant problems with reading, math and/or writing. Occupational goals for some children who persist in pursuing their education will be compromised as well.
Many children with Learning Disorders will equate their difficulties with low intelligence although intellectual abilities do not cause these problems. Consequently, children may become reluctant to try new experiences, feeling themselves incapable of learning and succeeding. Low self-esteem, anxiety and depression are common as is anger, frustration and related disruptive behaviors. Children with these disorders are also likely to be ridiculed and ostracized by their peers. The necessity of remedial education can further stigmatize and isolate them. School refusal is not uncommon and families may find themselves dealing frequently with school related problems and disruptive behaviors. Anger, frustration and avoidance may present as opposition and defiance in the home as well.
The treatment for Learning Disorders is primarily educational and schools generally will formulate individualized plans for remedial education. Teachers trained to help children with Learning Disorders can provide structured classroom settings and teaching techniques that compensate for these disabilities. Many children will require multiple forms of assistance both in the classroom and other settings, however. Some will benefit from a multisensory approach to academics and learning other related life skills. Visual and auditory aids may be helpful as well as movement and touch techniques used in learning. Some children may require additional therapeutic help in learning to process sensory information more effectively. Often these children will work with occupational therapists that provide therapy through play activities and tasks designed to engage the children’s interest and curiosity. Using various forms of equipment such as balls, swings, ramps and slides, the occupational therapist can help children with Learning Disorders learn in nontraditional ways (Goodman, Hurst, & Locke, 2008). Additionally, some children will require tutors or individual time working with specially trained teachers. For children who have developed emotional and behavioral problems, counseling services are often necessary. The families of children who have developed emotional and behavioral issues may also benefit from supportive counseling, support groups with other parents facing similar problems and education that focuses upon coping strategies.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
Goodman, J., Hurst, J., & Locke, C. (2008). Occupational Therapy for People with Learning Disabilities. Churchill Livingstone.