Monday, November 24, 2014

Learning Disabilities Associated with NF

Due to popular demand, here is a post about learning disabilities and Neurofibromatosis!

Neurofibromatosis is one of the most common genetic disorders affecting the nervous system. It's major manifestations are physical, but as many as 60% of individuals living with this condition have a learning disability. I am referring to children throughout the post, but these disabilities also impact adults.

Learning disabilities range in type and severity among children with NF. It is estimated that 40-60% of children with NF have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). Although the cause is not certain, it is thought that ADD/ADHD originates from structural and functional problems in the brain, which affects how certain parts of the brain are connected to one another. Research also hypothesizes that children who have a low birth weight are prone to developing ADHD, as well as individuals who have brain damage to the temporal lobe (the lobe on the "side" of your brain). Certain parts of the brain are smaller in children who have ADHD, and the neurons in their brains that are supposed to transmit information seem to fire at a much faster rate, than in people without ADHD. There also seems to be a deficiency in the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a role in behaviour, cognition, and attention. According to the NF Network, children who have ADD or ADHD tend to have behavioral issues such as restlessness, impulsivity, and are easily distracted. Typically, it manifests itself around the age of 12 years, but it is not uncommon for people to be diagnosed during adulthood.

There are a variety of learning problems that can be seen in children with Neurofibromatosis. Some of these children tend to have more difficulties with math and numbers, while others struggle with things like reading, comprehension and problem solving. Specific learning problems that can be seen include:

1. Mathematic Difficulties
  • Found in 60% of people living with NF 
  • People with NF can have difficulties remembering basic numerical facts
  • A lot of people may require continual concrete aids such as counting on their fingers
  • A lot of people with NF are impulsive, and may misread math equations or signs 
  • Individuals who have difficulties with reading may also struggle with math, as math tends to have its own "language"
2.  Language Difficulties 
  • Individuals can have difficulties expressing themselves 
  • Individuals who have difficulties with language often have problems with attention span
  • Research has shown that children with NF can have difficulties with language in the following areas: 
a) Receptive language -- the ability to process the written and/or spoken language. Individuals who struggle with receptive language have difficulties with:
  • Following directions and instructions
  • Discriminating between sounds 
  • Understanding the meaning and content of speech 
b) Expressive language -- the ability to express meaning via writing and/or speaking 

3. Reading Difficulties 
  • Dyslexia is common in children with NF ( We pegin our qrib eq a faziliar blace, a pogy like yours enq zine. Iq conqains a hunqraq grillion calls qheq work qogaqhys py gasig... Can you read that? Click this link for a translation... this is how children with dyslexia can see words on a page    ( )
  • People with NF often struggle with sounding out words, which is known as phonological dyslexia. Also, individuals who have phonological dyslexia also have difficulties spelling words

That's all I have for you guys this week, thanks for reading and I hope you have learned something new!!!


Information was gathered from:  

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