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Academic Challenges

Unmasking Academic Barriers: Understanding Learning Hurdles in Education

In the realm of education, language proficiency is the cornerstone of learning. It serves as the bridge for students to absorb classroom knowledge, reflect on their understanding, and express their thoughts through speech and writing. But what if language processing becomes an obstacle, leading to academic challenges?

In this comprehensive exploration of learning hurdles, we'll delve into how speech and language difficulties impact a student's academic journey. We'll examine conditions such as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Attention Disorders, Dyspraxia, and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Our goal is to illuminate these academic challenges, fostering understanding, support, and effective intervention.

Speech and Language:

In school, children and young adults use language for everything. The ability to assimilate class content into learning, reflect on what one knows, and then produce a written or oral piece of work to demonstrate learning depends upon language processing skills. Further, the ability to use clear and smooth speech to communicate knowledge is crucial to showing what one has learned. Informed assessment and treatment can get to the heart of speech and language difficulties to remediate underlying processing issues, and improve academic outcomes. The Speech Language Pathologist will work with families and teachers to diagnose and remediate speech and language processing issues.

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Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD):

CAPD means that one can hear everything, but has difficulty processing what they hear, neurologically. CAPD affects not only how many languages one can access from what they hear, but also interrupts the learning trajectory a student accesses to acquire literacy. Cumulatively, this makes a huge impact on how a student can access the curriculum. A thorough assessment can isolate these processing levels, while therapy aims at implementing strategies to reduce the impact of CAPD while remediating underlying neurological processing difficulties. The Speech Language Pathologist and Educational Therapist work in consultation with the student’s Audiologist, and in some cases, the Paediatrician and Educational psychologist to assess and treat auditory processing difficulties and disorders.

Learning Disorders (Dyslexia):

Dyslexia is often misdiagnosed in young and intermediate learners, or diagnosed very late when problems have already taken hold. Reading is not a developmental milestone, but rather something we are taught. However, structural differences in the brains of people with dyslexia mean they can have trouble accessing the neurological processes used to acquire literacy. A thorough assessment to ascertain a student’s literacy profile informs targeted therapy. The Educational Psychologist will work with the Educational Therapist and Speech Language Pathologist to fully assess and diagnose learning disorders. Educational Therapists can then work with Speech Language Pathologists to ensure all processing issues are addressed and treated to ensure positive gains are made. An early intervention is important to help in preparing the child's developmental roadmap. A tailored approach uses the brain's ability to change to ensure that the student can access literacy and use it to learn and communicate effectively in class, as well as to enjoy the pleasure of reading for fun!

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Learning Disorders (Dyscalculia):

A student diagnosed with Dyscalculia has trouble processing math language. These students can have difficulty with word problems, as well as consolidating math learning to progress with the curriculum at the expected pace. When a student has difficulty with this, they can get left behind; the more this happens the harder it is to catch up. Therapy focused on processing math language will support the student to become an autonomous math learner, and regain their love of numbers and problem-solving. The Educational Therapist is uniquely positioned to isolate subtle and broad problem areas. Rather than simply reteaching, as is the case with traditional tutoring, the Educational Therapist, sometimes in consult with the Speech Language Pathologist, can specifically isolate processing difficulties that contribute to dyscalculia. From there, a remediation plan that supports narrowing the gap in learning, and facilitating independence, can be implemented.

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Attention Disorders:

These are a group of neurological disorders, for example, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), affecting how well a child learns in school. The ability to regulate one’s body, process teacher instructions, and complete a task autonomously are at the heart of academic learning. Unfortunately, these are difficult for a child with attention and memory issues, despite the fact that they may be very bright and articulate. Educational Psychologists, and in some cases Paediatricians, work with Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Educational Therapists and Teachers work in consult to form a holistic plan, Students benefit from a broad approach to assessment and therapy that can identify strengths and difficulties, including strategies for success, but while still working on remediating underlying neurological processing issues.

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Dyspraxia affects a student’s ability to conceptualise what they have learned, and to plan and carry out a task to demonstrate learning. Students with dyspraxia can get left behind because they need longer to process learning and produce their work. Therapy aimed at supporting access to the curriculum, and remediating specific processing breakdowns can be very successful in helping students with dyspraxia meet their potential. Occupational Therapy yields positive gains, in consult with the Speech Language Pathologist and Educational Therapist to form a holistic plan for success.

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Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD):

While People with ASD are each very different, there are some common difficulties that affect their academic success. The ability to think flexibly about their world and themselves affects how one learns and engages with the learning context. Difficulties with planning and self-evaluation can affect the quality of work a student produces, despite the fact that the student may be highly intelligent. A thorough assessment aims at getting to the heart of each student’s processing profile, learning style, and personality to inform how the team approaches the remediation process. With targeted intervention, children with ASD can enjoy academic success and a higher quality of life. ASD is diagnosed by a Psychologist, while treatment is carried out with a Speech Language Pathologist and Occupational Therapist, in consult with the family and Teachers.

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