With the arrival of final exams and winter vacation, it is difficult to find a spot in the learning difficulties clinic at the Capital Institute of Pediatrics (hereinafter referred to as the “Capital Institute of Pediatrics”). “Inability to concentrate in class, constant small movements”, “difficulties in reading and writing”, “cannot improve my grades”… Parents and children with these problems have come to the clinic to seek professional help.
Is learning difficulty a disease? What conditions require treatment? Does a child’s unsatisfactory grades mean that he or she has learning difficulties? After visiting the learning difficulties clinic, can “stupid students” counterattack? With these questions, Sino-Singapore Health came to the Children’s Hospital Affiliated to the Capital Institute of Pediatrics and chatted with Zhang Lili, deputy chief physician of the hospital’s health center.
It’s hard to find the number one clinic for learning difficulties
Treats more than 8,000 patients every year
When you walk into the 8th floor of the Childcare Building of Seoul Institute, you will see ocean-themed decorations, bookshelves with picture books, various educational toys and green plants in the corners. The health center including special outpatient clinics such as learning difficulties clinic, sleep clinic, and growth and development clinic is located here.
Since its opening in May 2022, the learning difficulties clinic of Seoul Children’s Hospital has treated more than 8,000 patients every year. The clinic aims to find the causes of children’s learning difficulties through multi-faceted examinations and evaluations, diagnose diseases that affect learning performance, and provide comprehensive intervention including diagnostic evaluation, intervention guidance, parent education and drug treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities.
Zhang Lili said that the patients treated in this clinic are mainly school-age children, most of them concentrated in elementary school, including some junior high school and high school students. Among these patients, more than 60% come to see a doctor because of attention problems, and a higher proportion of children with ADHD (ADHD).
“However, in the outpatient clinics we see recently, there will be more middle school students, especially junior high school students. As the final exam is approaching, some children will worry that they will not do well in the exam, or that they will be in a bad mental state after getting sick. Relatively speaking, children with emotional problems will More.” Zhang Lili said.
About 1/3 of children come here due to parental anxiety
Unsatisfactory grades do not mean learning difficulties
In addition to neurological developmental defects, psychological problems, etc., there are also parents who bring their children to the clinic because of “performance anxiety.” According to Zhang Lili’s observation, such children account for about 1/3 of the outpatient clinics.
“Some children study very well, but their parents think they should be better. The parents’ thinking is, ‘You should be able to get 100 points, why did you only get 95 points?'” Zhang Lili said helplessly that children are individuals different from their parents, and learning Abilities are also different. Parents who are too demanding and too anxious will also make their children feel inadequate and even give up on themselves. She will patiently communicate with parents, inform them that there is no problem with their children’s learning ability, and suggest that parents be more tolerant and understanding.
There are also parents who come with the idea of helping their children with unsatisfactory grades to improve their grades as soon as possible. Zhang Lili emphasized that unsatisfactory grades do not mean learning difficulties, and learning difficulty clinics cannot solve all learning problems at once.
How to tell if a child has learning difficulties? In Zhang Lili’s view, if both the teacher and the parents feel that the child has problems with learning, attention, etc., it is recommended to go to the hospital in time. “Parents often have high expectations for their children, but what teachers see is their children’s learning status, learning ability, and interpersonal relationships most of the time. If the teacher also reports that the child has attention problems and does not learn well, he must take a look in time and don’t drag.”
The earlier you intervene, the better
Drug treatment is not a panacea
Regarding learning difficulties, Zhang Lili emphasized that early identification and intervention are very important. “Generally, the earlier the adjustment is made, the better. Drug treatment is more effective for children with ADHD. But if it is a problem with learning skills, try to see a doctor in the lower grades of elementary school. Once you reach middle school, it will be difficult to adjust.”
According to her, the learning difficulties clinic mainly helps children through drug treatment, behavioral therapy and other means. “But the treatment of drugs is not a panacea. Children with ADHD have insufficient self-discipline and executive power. We need to help children develop good study habits and let them realize that learning is their own business. What really needs to be changed is the child’s self-motivation. “Strength.” Zhang Lili said that at school age, especially in the first and second grades, it is necessary to focus on cultivating children’s learning task arrangement, planning abilities and interpersonal communication skills.
A good family atmosphere is equally important. Zhang Lili pointed out that ADHD is a “chronic disease” and treatment is a long-term process. Harmonious family relationships and a relaxed family atmosphere are also important parts of treatment. She found that if parents have a good mentality, their children tend to have a better prognosis; if parents are very anxious, sometimes their children’s medication effects are not so good.
She emphasized that although parents mainly evaluate the effectiveness of treatment based on whether their grades have improved, in fact, the improvement of children’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills are also important criteria for evaluation. Through the learning difficulties clinic, on the one hand, it provides treatment, and on the other hand, it guides the child on what to do. On the basis of drug assistance, parents, teachers, and doctors work together to help the child make progress, and the treatment effect will be ideal.