Learning Difficulties / Disabilities
(Types, Symptoms & How to Overcome Them)
What is SpLD?
Specific learning difficulties, which is also known as SpLD, is one of the common types of learning disability in Hong Kong. Children with this type of learning difficulty have normal or gifted intelligence. They often struggle in different aspects of their learning, for example, in reading, writing or calculating.
There are different types of SpLD, namely dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, in which dyslexia is the most common type of learning difficulty in Hong Kong among the population.
What are the symptoms of different types of special learning difficulties
for Hong Kong children (SpLD)?
Difficulty in reading, spelling and writing
Difficulty in associating the pronunciation to a given word
Difficulty in the organisation of ideas
Express better by verbal compared to written means
Difficulty in conducting smooth and coordinated physical movement
Delay in demonstrating the ability to count
Delay in ability to perform simple mathematics calculations
Slow in memorising arithmetic facts
Difficulty using finger counting
Difficulty memorising times tables, understanding reasoning methods and multi-step calculation procedures
Weak fine motor skills and difficulty in remembering sequences
Might result in messy handwriting
If your child has some of the above symptoms or learning difficulties,
does it mean that he/she has dyslexia?
In academics, the symptoms of the students suspected to have a learning disability in Hong Kong, like dyslexia, can be easily observed. In terms of reading, they might have difficulty in reading fluently, and often mispronounce words or forget the pronunciations. As the development in the structure of their brains is different, they might get tired easily and need extra effort to concentrate in order to complete reading and writing tasks. Children that are known to have learning difficulties in Hong Kong might struggle in retelling the idea after reading a text.
In terms of writing, children with such a learning disability in Hong Kong might have difficulty with spelling or word dictation despite paying considerable effort to learn. Omitting strokes, letters or adding unnecessary ones when copying Chinese characters or alphabetical letters in English are also commonly seen among young children with dyslexic learning difficulties in Hong Kong. It is also common to see messy handing, weak comprehension of writing.
However, we cannot make an official diagnosis based on a few symptoms that we can observe, as such a diagnosis must be completed by a registered Educational Psychologist. You are welcome to contact us for a referral for your child with suspected learning difficulties in Hong Kong.
How do learning difficulties and disability affect Hong Kong children?
At preschool age, children with a learning disability in Hong Kong may start speaking at a later age than that of the children at the same age. Also, they may encounter articulation problems, such as finding it difficult and taking longer time to read letters, numbers and words.
At early primary school age, children with learning difficulties in Hong Kong are significantly seen to have difficulties in associating the sounds to the Chinese characters or English words, as well as blending and segmenting sounds letters in English. Also, they may have confusion in words that have similar sounds or shapes. These problems may result in dictation errors, such as missing or confusing the radical components of Chinese characters, wrong sequence of strokes in writing Chinese characters, and missing or reversing the order of letters in English words.
At a later primary age, children may show increasing difficulties in reading and writing. In reading, they may struggle to understand the implied meaning, the writer’s thoughts in reading comprehension; in writing, they may find it challenging in organising and expressing with words.
When reaching secondary school age, students are required to have substantial organisation skills and executive functioning in order to achieve better academic performance independently. However, students with learning difficulties in Hong Kong may show great weaknesses in these areas. With weak organisation skills and lack of working memory, they may also have difficulties in note taking during their learning experience. Thus, these may lead to academic failure, causing low self-esteem and poor peer relationships. Facing a learning disability in Hong Kong, it is understandable that students may have social and emotional problems, at school and home.
Hong Kong children with learning difficulties, like being dyslexic, are commonly seen to have other comorbid developmental problems as well, such as language disorder, developmental coordination disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), but at the same time, they can also be quite gifted too!
What will the future be for children with learning difficulties?
With appropriate learning disability Hong Kong intervention and strategies, your child will overcome their learning difficulties in the future. Most importantly, we need to be a supportive facilitator to give enough guidance throughout the learning journey of your child. Children with learning difficulties in Hong Kong can also be very successful.
With Walt Disney, Albert Einstein and Beethoven, just to name a few, there have been many successful examples of famous people who are diagnosed to have dyslexia. They are all very talented, and so is your child. Parents should not forget to find out the strengths of their dyslexic children through appropriate learning disability Hong Kong interventions!
How can you help your child overcome dyslexia?
There are different ways for children with learning difficulties in Hong Kong to overcome the challenge of literacy in Chinese and English. In English, the difficulty in recognizing words is due to children's lack of phonological awareness, and consequently it can be difficult for them to combine the smallest pronunciation units in English words into single words, such as the three sounds /k/, /ae/, /t/ in the word cat. To solve the difficulty of recognizing words, parents with children that have such a learning disability in Hong Kong can start with phonics, spend time splitting phonemes, combining them into words, or even sentences. Parents of children with learning difficulties in Hong Kong can also find an approved speech therapist to formulate the most suitable learning plan for their children to fundamentally solve the problem of literacy.
As far as Chinese is concerned, the first thing for parents with children that have such a learning disability in Hong Kong to solve is the Chinese character structure. As children's difficulty in recognizing Chinese characters lies in the inability to effectively recognize the glyphs and spatial structures of Chinese characters, using grid copybooks to train children with dyslexic learning difficulties in Hong Kong to copy and associate the meaning of the text components, which will help improve their difficulty in recognizing characters. Words such as sea, river and ocean all start from the indexing component water. Parents can use it as a starting point, and extend to the words such as lake, swimming and stream. With the assistance of professional learning disability Hong Kong instructors, when they are first able to master the basic morphological awareness, and then gradually being capable of reading independently, children could finally overcome dyslexia.