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Learning Differences—Understanding and Celebrating the Unique Ways Children Develop and Grow

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

One of my friends used to like to say—”Normal is just a setting on your dryer.”

While this expression was intended for humor, it also contained an important message about our relationship to normality.

Namely that, in the real world—there is no such thing.

As a concept, normal conjures up a rigid, strict set of parameters. It’s a small box to fit in.

And, here’s the thing—people weren’t made to be shoved into boxes.

Humanity is messy. And, our differences are what make us special and unique. We like to color outside of the proverbial lines, and explore our own ways of doing things.

When it comes to learning, the idea of what’s “normal” can pop up in a way that’s reductive and detrimental to the wide variety of learning and thinking styles that exist amongst individuals.

If your child has learning and thinking differences, it can be confusing and frustrating as a parent to advocate for their needs in the school setting.

From standardized tests to set-in-stone- curricula—school can be challenging for those who march to the beat of their own drum.

You may feel like your child is being overlooked or forced into a rigid learning method that doesn't fit their unique learning style and educational needs.

So what’s a concerned parent to do?

This article will examine what learning and thinking differences are, how they show up, and how they can be effectively addressed so they don’t present obstacles to your child’s success in school.

Let’s dive right in.

What are learning and thinking differences?

Learning and thinking differences are the terms used to describe differences in brain processing that lead to challenges for those who experience them with skills like math, reading, writing, and focusing.

Some learning and thinking differences are classified as learning disabilities, while some are not.

Learning and thinking differences include conditions like—

Because these issues also can co-occur, a child with learning and thinking differences may experience one or more of these challenges.

We now know that learning and thinking differences are very common, with experts estimating they impact one out of every five children.

Learning and thinking differences can present challenges to those who experience them, but they can also speak to learning diversity and strengths. We all learn at different rates and we all have subjects we’re naturally drawn to, as well as those we find more difficult.

Unfortunately, there are some outdated myths and beliefs about learning and thinking differences that can negatively impact how students who experience them are treated.

These misconceptions fail to take into account that learning and thinking differences are based in biology—they are real and measurable.

Let’s examine a few of these, to ensure you can effectively advocate for your child if they come up against any during their educational journey.

What are some misconceptions about learning and thinking differences?

Despite our modern knowledge that’s taught us there’s a wide variety of learning differences, and that these differences should be celebrated instead of punished—some common misconceptions about this subject do continue to exist.

Many people don’t realize just how common learning and thinking differences are. In fact, 20% of the population experience learning and thinking differences. This adds up to millions and millions of people!

And, as we’ve become more adept at recognizing these issues when they occur, we’ve improved our ability to diagnose them and secure learning supports where needed.

Some myths about learning and thinking differences that are as damaging as they are untrue include believing that people who experience these issues are simply lazy or not trying hard enough to learn, and that these issues are somehow made up and not real.

These notions are both patently false, but they unfortunately still persist amongst people who fail to keep up on current knowledge and research on the topic.

In truth, people with learning disabilities and differences often work diligently to overcome the challenges they face. These issues can’t simply be willed away, and the people who experience them benefit from personalized support and assistance to thrive.

We now know that learning and thinking differences arise from differences in brain development and physiology. They have a strong genetic basis and often run in families.

Some don’t realize that learning and thinking differences don’t magically go away with time. The children who experience them don’t outgrow them as they age. Instead, learning and thinking differences and disabilities can present lifelong challenges to those who have them.

And, one final myth about people with learning and thinking differences we just HAVE to bust is that these folks aren’t smart and won’t be able to succeed because of their learning challenges.

Because nothing could be further from the truth!

History shows us that people with learning and thinking differences and disabilities can go on to be hugely successful in life. They’ve already changed our world for the better.

Think about what the world would be like without the work of people like Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, and Walt Disney. All these folks contended with learning disabilities.

So, if your child is diagnosed with learning and thinking differences, this doesn’t mean they won’t thrive and succeed—in school and in life. It just means they can benefit from some additional support and assistance to help them learn the way they learn best.

Let’s take a look at how we diagnose and treat learning and thinking differences when they show up.

How are learning and thinking differences in children diagnosed and treated?

Particularly when identified early, learning and thinking differences in children are very treatable.

Leaning supports, strategies, and modifications can be taught and implemented in your child’s educational environment to help them thrive.

The first important step in the process of getting your child the services and supports they need is identifying the nature of the learning issues they’re experiencing. This means conducting a thorough evaluation of their learning strengths and needs.

At The Loop, our team of therapists and learning specialists are highly skilled at conducting the necessary assessments in order to qualify your child for the additional assistance they require.

We’ll begin the process by connecting with you, to ensure we understand your child’s unique personality and challenges.

If an evaluation is warranted and agreed upon, we’ll schedule a time with your child’s teacher to conduct our assessment in one session or many, right in the school setting.

Once our evaluation is completed, we’ll take the time to review our results and explain our recommendations to you and your child’s educational team. From here, we’ll create a customized treatment plan, designed just for your child’s educational needs.

We’ll ensure your child’s treatment plan is as robust as it is individualized. We’ll maintain open lines of communication with you throughout their treatment, to make sure we’re doing everything we can to address their needs, monitor their progress, and create learning opportunities throughout their days—both in school and at home with you.

While your child’s treatment plan will be highly personalized, it may include some commonalities, depending upon the nature of their learning differences and challenges.

Here are some helpful deep dive articles that will offer you insight into how we approach and treat specific learning and thinking differences in therapy. Simply tap a link to view each piece—

No matter your child’s unique learning style, we are here to support and uplift both them and you. Together, we’ll make sure their learning obstacles are able to be overcome and they’re free to reach their full potential.

Do you know—The Loop is your hub for all things learning! In addition to our stellar speech, language, and occupational therapy offerings, we also provide an array of top quality educational support services, including—learning remediation, executive function coaching, and educational consultancy and advocacy.

Visit our site and blog regularly for new content, created just for you! Got a question? Reach out to us anytime at Wanna connect on social media? Follow us on all your fav platforms @TheLoopSLL.

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