Joint efforts tackle child learning difficulties

A student uses a virtual reality device at a psychological health education center at Wuhuan Middle School in Xi”an, Shaanxi province. [Photo/China Daily]

Viral social media post shines spotlight on topic that was misunderstood, little discussed

The learning difficulties clinic at Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai has been in existence since September 2020, but few people were aware of it until recently, when a parent noticed the clinic’s name on the hospital’s electronic notification board.

The parent then took a photo, uploading it to social media platforms with the comment, “Had there been such a clinic during my childhood, I wouldn’t have been an underachiever and my life would be completely different.”

The post went viral, and Zhu Daqian, director of the hospital’s psychology department, who is also in charge of the clinic, has found herself facing numerous interviews and questions related to learning difficulties.

Similar clinics in Shanghai and cities such as Beijing, Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, and Wuhan, the Hubei provincial capital, have seen a significant rise in the number of people seeking consultations, according to local media reports.

Zhu said: “We decided to establish this clinic in 2020 because we were receiving a growing number of cases of strained parent-child relationships at our psychology clinic. These cases accounted for nearly 90 percent of the total. Most of them were related to children’s less-than-satisfactory academic performances.”

Most parents are still quick to associate their child’s poor academic results with a lack of motivation or low intellect. They rarely consider the fact that the child might have a learning disability.

Zhu said there are various forms of learning disabilities, including dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and autistic spectrum disorder. The key to addressing these problems is to identify them early. She added that children with neurodevelopmental disorders often require rehabilitative training, which is most effective when they are still in kindergarten.

“Most children with ADHD see great improvements with the proper medication and behavioral intervention,” she said.

Zhu added that most learning difficulties are hard to identify early and can go undetected until a child enters the third or fourth grade, when there is a significant increase in academic workload.

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