A historical perspective of learning disabilities

Kid with Learning DisabilityAt one time scientists thought that all learning disabilities were caused by a single neurological problem but research has demonstrated that the causes are more diverse. Historically, speculation had attributed learning disabilities to heredity, or other unknown mysterious factors. An early explanation concluded that learning problems that were primarily the result of poor vision or hearing, motor disabilities, mental retardation, autism, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage while considered to be eligible for special education, were not considered to be a learning disability. The real concern, at that time, was why children with average or above average intelligence were having difficulty learning, and sometimes performed below their average peers in academic achievement.

The very recent advances in modern technology have provided an answer to this question by allowing scientists to look into the living brains of children. The amazing finding has been that the way in which the brain and nervous system develops is influenced by the experiences the child has during the early childhood years while the nervous system is developing. It seems that the development of the brain and nervous system differs from child to child and that the specific differences in brain and nervous system development accounts for the specific differences in learning abilities.  These findings resulted into a more indepth look at how early childhood experiences contributed to the development of learning problems in children. While intensive research identified many early learning experiences that contribute to the development of learning disabilities, the environmental factor identified as having the most impact upon the child’s development was found to be his relationship with his parents and their attitude toward his success. This relationship is referred to as parenting, and all other factors in the environment were found to be secondary to it because parents create the environment that the developing child experiences.

Other important factors in the child’s environment found to have an impact upon the development of learning abilities included nutrition, allergies to food, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals. A lack of sleep and physical exercise are additional factors. And, most importantly, when parents control these factors, the brain continues to develop, or returns to normal functioning.  The exciting result is that parents need not despair about their child’s learning problems, for research findings suggest that specific learning disabilities can be prevented, remedied, or corrected by identifying, and removing the specific factors in the environment that are preventing normal development of the child’s learning abilities.  Simply stated, to prevent, mediate or correct the cause of a child’s specific learning disability, a summary of this research appears to be suggesting that if you become proactive in greening up the child’s environment by removing toxic chemicals that may be causing allergies, see that he eats nutritious food, gets plenty of sleep and physical exercise it will go a long way toward helping your child become a better student. Researchers report that, in some instances, suggested methods have shown results in only a few days.

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