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Child with specific learning difficulties - developmental dyslexia


Developmental dyslexia – specific learning difficulties in children with normal mental development. The term "specific" emphasizes the nature of these difficulties - their limited and very narrow scope. Dyslexia occurs in children with normal mental development, and often, in very talented children.

The term "developmental dyslexia" covers several types of disfunction:

dyslexia - difficulty reading;

dysorthography - difficulty mastering the correct spelling;

dysgraphia - difficulty with the graphic aspect of writing, the so-called "bad handwriting";

dyscalculia - difficulty learning math.

So far, no single cause of dyslexia has been identified. The most widespread concept is that developmental dyslexia is due to micro-lesions of the central nervous system that are either genetically based or caused by fetal or perinatal trauma. They are the main cause of selective developmental deficits conditioning the reading and writing process.

Difficulties of students with developmental dyslexia vary, depending on the age of a child and the severity of developmental deficits:

6-7 Year Old Children

difficulty with pronunciation

difficulty remembering rhymes and songs

difficulties in distinguishing similar sounds, isolating and combining syllables

difficulties in distinguishing elements from the whole

difficulties with orientation in time (seasons, days, hours)

difficulties in drawing and recreating figures and patterns

faulty pronunciation (garbling, rearranging, repeated grammatical errors)

difficulties in learning to read

lack of laterality (ambidexterity, confusing right and left hand)

poor manual dexterity (tying shoelaces, holding scissors, cutlery)

delayed body schema orientation

Children at Early School Age, 1 -3 Grade of Primary School

persisting and worsening of the above difficulties

poor mobility (the child cannot ride a two-wheeled bicycle, skates, skis, problems with self-service)

persistent ambidexterity

impaired hand–eye coordination

difficulties in remembering dates, names, numbers, multiplication table

confusing letters

omitting, adding and rearranging letters and syllables

difficulties with spelling

ugly handwriting and drawing

Children at Older School Age, From the 4th Grade of Primary School

gradual reduction or subsiding of reading difficulties

writing difficulties are often limited to a large number of spelling errors and bad handwriting

widening of school difficulties to other subjects

difficulties in learning foreign languages

School achievements of a student with developmental dyslexia are generally not in line with the school's requirements. Such a student requires professional help from a teacher, parent, psychologist and pedagogist. If the student does not receive such help on time, his or her school problems will worsen, the child will become lost, and his or her self-esteem will drop.

Difficulties faced by students with dyslexia result from their internal conditions, independent of their will and commitment. In order to master the educational material, just like their peers, they have to double or triple their effort, but despite this, the effects are still negligible, for example due to the slow pace of work or persistent spelling errors. Without a praise, a reward, left to themselves, they lose their willingness to learn, because "why should I do something if I'm worse than others anyway", they stop learning, and when they are older, they often skip school.

The first school failures, constant lack of success, lack of praise from teachers, a sense of defeat, disgrace in front of classmates who easily master the teaching material, dissatisfaction, anxiousness, indifference, and even despair - these are the feelings that constantly accompany students with dyslexia.

Dyslexia cannot be completely prevented, but its consequences can be significantly mitigated. Thanks to early diagnosis and early intervention programs, specialists can introduce preventive work and activities supporting the development of a child with a risk of dyslexia already in pre-school classes. This makes it much easier for the child to start and function in school conditions. Professional help from teachers, educators, psychologists, support from parents - all this contributes to the better functioning of the child as a student. Thanks to these procedures, dyslexia does not have to be a nightmare for a child.

According to the current regulations of the Ministry of National Education (MEN), children with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysorthography, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia have the right to have the teacher adapt the teaching and assessment methods to their dysfunctions. This does not mean that the teacher will lower the requirements for these students - the requirements remain the same as for other students, but the teaching and assessment methods will be different.

If something worries you, if you think that your child is having difficulties, do not wait until he or she "grows out of it", do not be afraid to come to our Center, to the school counselor. Help your child.

Child with Intelligence Lower Than Average 

Children with a reduced level of intellectual development (with lower than average intelligence) in foreign literature are referred to metaphorically as "shadow children" or "gray area kids".

These terms emphasize their difficult situation at school. These students are not included in any special education program, and are not able to meet the requirements of the mainstream school curriculum either. The prevalence rate of people with a reduced level of intellectual development in the population is approx. 14%.

Children with a reduced level of intellectual performance have difficulties mainly with:

understanding and learning new information,

solving new tasks,

adapting to new situations,

receiving and processing complex information,

understanding the relationship between pieces of information,

understanding cause-effect relationships,

understanding the text they are reading,

communicating in writing,

speaking correctly,

counting and mathematical thinking,

concentrating, due to a lack of interest in a topic they don't understand.

Students in this group need a lot of repetition and exercises to consolidate new skills, both at school and at home. These students' work pace in the classroom is slower, and they are not able to keep up with the rest of the class.

The results they achieve in learning are low, disproportionate to the effort put into mastering the material. As a consequence, the child's motivation to learn decreases, his or her self-esteem decreases, and helplessness occurs. Defense mechanisms are triggered, first in the form of avoiding lessons, then avoiding everything related to learning, and consequently dropping out of school.

Students with lower than average intelligence often experience marginalization and violence from their schoolmates. They are in a vulnerable group of people at risk of social exclusion, entering juvenile crime groups, and experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Due to the risk of emotional and social difficulties, students from this group need special attention and commitment from teachers. Working with such students should be focused not only on supporting their cognitive abilities, but also on minimizing the risks associated with experiencing school failures, on creating their positive self-image and developing their strengths.

A Child With Language Communication Disorders - Speech Underdevelopment of Aphasic Type 

Childhood aphasia - it is speech and language disorder

related to the lack of developed competences or developing them to a degree insufficient for the correct implementation and understanding of the utterance, referred to as speech underdevelopment of aphasic type 

or related to the breakdown of the communication system, defined as acquired childhood aphasia - occurring in children at the age of 2-7 years, resulting from damage to the properly developing brain (cranial injuries, infectious diseases, tumor, meningitis, whooping cough, influenza, stroke)

In our Center, we most often deal with the first group of children in whom, as a result of comprehensive tests, we diagnose: speech deficiency of aphasic type (in educational regulations called shortly "aphasia"). In the literature on this subject, there are also other terms, such as: specific developmental disorders of speech and language (in the medical classification of the ICD included in sec. F-80.1 and F.80-2). Another term is SLI (Specific Language Impairment) which is popular in English-speaking countries. The word specific is used because the speech and language disorder is not the result of other developmental abnormalities, such as: autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, hearing loss, emotional disorder, but it is a primary and main disorder of unknown reason. Children with speech underdevelopment of aphasic type usually do not have typical neurological symptoms (e.g. changes in EEG, CT, or MRI), therefore their diagnosis requires the participation of a speech therapist, psychologist, pedagogue and their cooperation with a neurologist, audiologist and laryngologist. The definition of this disorder is based on the exclusion of the above-mentioned developmental disorders in the situation of delayed speech development. According to the neuropsychological approach, speech underdevelopment of aphasic type occurs when in early childhood there is an interruption or inhibition of speech development, or when speech does not develop despite the fact that the child does not have paresis or paralysis in the vocal apparatus, hears sounds, develops well mentally, is not emotionally disturbed and is being brought up in favorable environmental conditions.

Developmental disorder of speech and language that we are describing is not a speech defect, it applies to all aspects of language: lexical-semantic, inflectional-syntactic and phonetic-phonological aspects. This means that a child with aphasia cannot remember words, cannot build sentences, makes grammatical mistakes, and distorts spoken words to such an extent that they do not resemble proper words. Problems with speech are extensive. The problem is not that a child does not pronounce difficult sounds or pronounces them in an incomprehensible way. Such a child "distorts words" very badly, builds sentences poorly, does not know how to tell stories because he or she lacks words or has difficulty remembering words, or confuses their meaning.

Such children often have difficulties not only in the area of active speech (repeating or independently speaking words and sentences), but they do not understand or only party understand what is said to them, even though they can hear well. All children with aphasia have disorders of passive speech (understanding) and active speech, while the degree of impairment of these speech functions varies. Usually, active speech disorders with limited understanding are predominant, or comprehension disorders prevail, which results in the incorrect use of active speech. Due to the fact that speech and language are the basis of learning, these children usually have serious difficulties at school. Disturbances in verbal communication do not result from deep emotional disorders, although children with aphasia are often vulnerable and emotionally unstable. They require long-term therapy and an individual approach at school.

A Child With Language Communication Disorders - Developmental Stuttering

Stuttering – a speech disorder characterized by frequent repetitions or extensions of sounds, syllables or words, or frequent hesitations or pauses that interfere the rhythmic flow of speech. The onset of stuttering most often takes place during periods of intense speech and language development. The effort of a child while speaking and the normal stress of adolescence can be direct factors causing brief repetitions, hesitations, and drawling that characterize both childhood stuttering and the dysfluencies of speech in general. These first symptoms of speech disfluency gradually subside and disappear in most children, but some will continue to stutter.

If speech disfluency occurs during the development of speech in a young child - always consult a speech therapist.

The speech therapist will diagnose stuttering due to developmental speech disfluency, advise parents on how to speak to the child as to teach him or her to speak fluently, explain the mechanisms of speech disfluency, and show the ways to help the child while speaking.

Children Who Came From Abroad

More and more Polish children go to school abroad. One of the reasons of this situation is the large wave of emigration. The problem is that a small number of emigrant children learn Polish during they stay abroad. Those who come back to Poland have difficulty studying here. Mainly with writing, reading and history. Each student returning or coming from abroad is admitted to a school in Poland on the basis of a certificate or a statement issued by a school abroad (school in the local education system, European school or Polish school in Athens and Moscow) and, sometimes, the on the basis of the last certificate issued in Poland, and the sum of the student's school years.

Before leaving the current country of residence, you should collect the certificates from the local school, if they are issued in the school system of a given country, or a statement issued by the management of the school to which your child attended. If you stayed in a non-European country, it is advisable to confirm the received documents at the Polish consulate; this will prevent possible problems with their recognition in Polish schools.

The school may establish preparatory classes for students who have come or have returned from abroad. The students are qualified for such preparatory classes by a team of specialist consisting of two teachers and a pedagogue. The number of students in such a group must not exceed 15 students. Teaching in the preparatory group is based in the curricula implemented at a given school, with the adaptation of the methods and forms of their implementation to the individual development and educational needs and psychophysical abilities of students. Educational activities in the preparatory group are conducted by teachers of individual school subjects, who may be assisted by a person who speaks the language of the student's country of origin. In the preparatory group it is allowed to organize teaching in combined classes. If a big number of students are admitted to school during the school year, a preparatory group may also be organized during the school year. In the preparatory group, the Polish language is taught according to the curriculum developed on the basis of the framework program of Polish language courses for foreigners, not less than 3 hours a week.

For students who came from abroad and are subject to compulsory education, and who do not know the Polish language or know it at a level insufficient to benefit from education, the authority of the school where the student takes education in accordance with the core curriculum for general education, organizes additional free lessons of the Polish language. They can be in the form of individual or group lessons, which may last up to 12 months, with a maximum duration of 2 lessons per week.

On similar principles, the school organizes additional remedial classes for students who have the so-called "curricular differences". Curricular differences in educational activities carried out in the class attended by a child from abroad are determined by the teacher who conducts classes in a given subject. The weekly schedule of additional Polish language lessons and remedial classes is determined by the school principal in agreement with the unit conducting the classes. A student may have a maximum of 5 hours of such additional classes per week.

In addition, children with a foreign country citizenship may attend lessons on the language and culture of their country, organized by foreign diplomatic and consular institutions or by a cultural and educational association of a given nationality in Poland. Such lessons are organized in agreement with the school management, up to 5 lessons per week.

Children and young people returning from abroad have the opportunity to continue their education in a foreign language in bilingual schools. These schools are an easier way of integration of foreign students into the Polish education system. Teaching in such schools is conducted in two languages - Polish and a foreign language, which is the second language of instruction. Bilingual secondary and high schools are an offer for those people who know a modern foreign language (mainly English, French or German) and wish to continue their education at the advanced level. Students of bilingual classes follow a much wider program of a foreign language learning.

Every child coming to Poland, regardless of their citizenship, has the right to benefit - under the same conditions as Polish children - of free care and education in public kindergartens, public schools and institutions.