A very starry time if life is when you find out something is wrong but don’t have an answer for the reason why. My daughter, Schae had processing delay troubles from the beginning. After many tests, the last being an MRI we found that She had an In utero stoke in the frontal lobe. As part of my research I found a great deal of information on the effects of a stroke but only a little on the causes, so I will cover both aspects. In utero stoke, also called fetal stroke, is when a blockage of the blood supply to a portion of the brain.
Which part/lobe of the brain the stroke occurs will present with different symptoms. According to a 2008 Stoke fact sheet (2) there are two types of strokes: Ischemic stroke, which is most common, is the blockage of the inflow of arterial blood flow. Hemorrhagic stroke is the bursting or breakage of a blood vessel. Ischemic stroke occurs in 1 of 4000 full term babies. (3) Ischemic strokes typically occur at or just before birth but could have occurred as early as 13 weeks. Fetal stroke can lead to developmental learning disabilities that cover a very broad scope of severity and issues.
A learning disability is a child that finds it more difficult to learn, understand and to do things compared to other children of the same age. (4) The degree of disability can vary greatly. Some children will never learn to speak and even when they grow up will need help with looking after themselves, but on the other side is a child that has such a mild disability that it is barely recognizable. The cause of the disability can also very significantly. Causes include: genetic factors, infection before birth, and brain injury at birth, brain infections or brain damage after birth.
In nearly one-half of the children affected, the cause of the disability remains unknown. The effects of learning disability are apparent to the child, they are aware that they are not like the rest of the class, the real problem is giving them the skills to understand and communicate when they are experiencing a problem. Speech problems can make it even harder for other people to understand them thus causing more frustration. Another sidebar problem is the parent’s, as well as the siblings, frustration with trying to communicate with the disabled child.
To treat developmental learning disability, you must have patients, knowledge of tools available, and professional help, school teachers and psychologists. The types of developmental learning disabilities are mostly discovered in school type setting. This allows an evaluation by the trained professional teacher to include skill set and cognitive weaknesses. The following are types of developmental disabilities. Motor difficulties is a problem with the movement and coordination whether it is with fine motor skills, (drawing, writing, use of scissors) or gross motor skills (running, jumping). This is referred to as an “output” activity.
The brain communicates with the necessary limbs to complete the action. A sign of this may include problems with hand-eye coordination, like holding a eating utensils or buttoning pants. Math difficulties vary greatly depending of the child’s other strength and weaknesses. This is affected by language learning or visual disorder or a difficulty with sequencing, memory or organization. A child with this disability may struggle with memorization and organization or numbers, operation signs and number facts and trouble with counting principles (such as counting by groups of numbers 4, 5, 10) or have difficulty telling time.
Language and communication disabilities have to do with the ability to understand and speak the spoken language. This is also considered an output activity, because it involves activity from the brain to use the right words and verbally explain something to someone else. Signs of this disability include problems with verbal language skills, (retelling a story, ability to understand the meaning of words, parts of speech, directions). Reading difficulties are broken down into two types. Basic reading problems are difficulty in understanding the relationship between sounds, letters and words.
Reading Comprehension is the inability to get the meaning of words, phrases and paragraphs. Signs of reading problems include; letter and word recognition, understanding words and ideas, reading speed and fluency, vocabulary skills. Writing difficulties include the physical act of writing or the mental activity of comprehending and synthesizing the information. Basic writing disorder is a physical difficulty forming works and letters. Expressive writing disability is a struggle to organize thoughts on paper.
Some symptoms are the act of writing and include; neatness and consistency of writing, accurately copying letters and words, spelling consistency and writing organization and coherence. Auditory and visual processing are the input processes. If the either of these two aren’t working then developmental learning can suffer. The ability to hear well greatly affects the ability to read, write and spell. Distinguishing the subtle differences in sound or hearing sounds at the wrong speed makes it difficult to sound out words and understand the basic concepts of reading and writing.
Visual perception problems are missing subtle differences is shapes, reversing letters or numbers skipping words or lines, having problems with eye-hand coordination. This is referred to as visual processing. Refer to appendix A. for table. Causes of developmental learning disabilities are not an exact science. 10 percent of children have a learning disability. Learning disabilities tend to run in families, so some learning disability may be inherited. A majority of the causes involve something brain related, it could have been a stroke in ureto, complications with delivery that involve a lack of oxygen, or environmental.
Some causes impact the brain development before, during, or after birth (drugs, poor nutrition). Mothers smoking can cause oxygen deficiency which can lead to developmental learning disability. Treatment for developmental learning disability depending on the severity of and type of disability, the most common is based on the ADD (Attention deficit disorder). There is a wide variety of treatments; the most common and most accepted treatment is educational intervention. Some of these techniques include teaching student’s strategies or tricks to overcome specific deficits.
Developing a individual education plan (IEP) for the student allow for all involved, parents, teachers, psychologists, and students to be moving toward the same common goal. Managing the child’s diet will help the child better concentrate in class. When these techniques fail or are have slow progress an alternative is to use chemicals/drugs to slow the urges to act less impulsively and more able to be responsive to the teachers methods of instruction. There are side effects which sometimes greatly complicate the process. I have a personal experience with developmental learning disabilities.
My daughter, here is her story. She was a quiet baby; Schae was our third child/daughter born. Schae took longer to do some of the things that her sisters did. Schae was 18 months before she walked and talked. Schae’s sisters had walked and talked very early, nine months. There was something about Schae, you couldn’t define any one thing, but all that came in contact with her just loved her. In preschool the teachers were concerned about Schae progress, it lagged the other students. My wife and I knew there was something wrong, but what?
When Schae Started kindergarten, the teacher suggested we test her, we requested that the school do tests on her to determine where she was learning wise. Schae IQ was normal, but she had a processing delay. It takes her longer, if at all, to understand things. When Schae was in first grade we took her to see the pediatrician who referred us to a neurologist. The neurologist saw a problem with Schae’s gate (she walked only on her tiptoes). After an MRI, they found that she had a stroke in utero in her frontal lop. This affected her ability to process information.
Externally she looked and acted fine, but when trying to understand something basic, it was apparent that there was something not right. The symptoms present like attention deficit disorder, so the treatment also falls in line with the symptoms. One of the hardest challenges is helping her to do her homework. We are not sure how it came to be that she wanted to do well but she does. Schae struggled greatly with her school work. No matter how much her mother and I worked with her, she did not understand the current topic whether it be math, reading or spelling.
We would make up flash cards and drill whatever it took just to see a glimmer of understanding. That was before we decided that our willpower for her to understand was not enough Schae has an intrinsic motivation to please us by doing well in school but just did not have the tools to do it. It was difficult for her to just sit still to concentrate. She wanted to go in a hundred different directions at once. Schae’s turning point occurred when she realized that using all the tools that we put before her will help her do better in school. We had to turn to medical tools to assist in her focusing problems.
We were extremely reluctant at first. We tried diet modification, a holistic approach, but nothing worked. We had to at least attempt the medical solution. At first it we tried a few different flavors of medicine. The first few really affected her personality, in fact so much that we had decided that nothing would be worse than what the medicine did to her. After going back to her doctor, we found one that was minimally invasive to her natural personality. Schae has a natural instinct to take care of others; some would say she was born to be a mother, and a sensitivity of others (sometimes not so much with her sisters).
This is what drives her will to do better in school. Schae’s instincts, other than the basic are to please others. I say this because when everything is done, Schae basic nature is to please others. Maybe because of the other issues Schae deals with, her strongest quality is that she is very loving and nurturing. Even from birth people were drawn to Schae. I am still not sure why people love her, maybe it is her calm easy going nature or just the fact that they see that she struggles but maintains a great attitude thought out. Schae’s drive is the same as any other 10year old.
She requires food, sleep and water. There was a time when she was younger, 4-5 years old, that the urge to use the bathroom was not as strong as it should have been and she would have accidents. One time in school, in 2nd grade, Schae had an accident in front of the whole class. This would have been horrifying for most, but Schae just went about her business not affected by the class around her or the teasing in the weeks to follow. As with all things the kids came back around to her easy going personality and her friends were still her friends.
There were those that did continue to tease Schae, but her mother and I have ensured that Schae stays away from them. For Schae in the past was difficult times, the frustration on her and our parts was miserable. It was very difficult to figure out what to do next. Our nature was to help her achieve her full potential and when our most diligent efforts failed, it was time to find another way. The medical solution is working right now. It greatly helps her concentrate with minimal affects to her natural personality.
Our ultimate goal is to have Schae be able to mentally control herself to a point that she can control her impulses to stray from the matter at hand. After I took a listening class (here at Curry) I heard of an adults childhood experience, where she did not want to take medicine and used a commonsense approach to concentration and focus. This person would focus on the instructor’s eyes whenever she spoke; this helped her focus on the spoken word. One morning at the breakfast table I suggested Schae try this for the day, just to see if it would work for Schae.
When she came home that day, she said it made a difference she was able to tune her focusing skill to a point that she was able to understand the teacher better. So like most things new to Schae, we have to reminder her for a little while then she will just start doing it. I see in Schae’s future that she will leave the medical approach behind and use her mental adaption to keep her focus and attentive skills in line. Schae’s heart driven approach to life will pave the way to great success in life whether that be financial or social.
Fetal Stroke is a serious problem that is mainly hidden from the public media and with research will hopefully lead to cause and prevention. Developmental learning disability is a multi-dynamic problem today with one in ten being diagnosed with some form of learning disability. The causes are being better understood, and the typed being further identified. Treatment is constantly evolving and with any hope a bridge will be forged between the educational and medical fields to come to a common treatment plan that is most beneficial and effective to the child.
1. http://www. rcpsych. ac. uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/mentalhealthandgrowingup/10learningdisability. aspx
3. Stroke in newborn infants. , Nelson, KB, Lynch, JK. Lancet Neurology, 2004,
5. Treatment of learning disabilities By Roberto Tuchman http://int-pediatrics. org/PDF/Volume%2015/15-2/tuchman. pdf Appendix A Learning disability causes chart. Common Types of Learning Disabilities