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LEARNING IMPAIRMENT

What is a learning impairment?

The term learning impairment generally refers to difficulty experienced by children (or adults) in one or more learning areas, which reduces the learner’s ability to realise his or her potential. It is often referred to as a “hidden handicap” and affects between 15 and 25% of children, regardless of culture, race, gender, or class. The learning impaired child generally performs poorly at school because he or she has difficulty in acquiring, storing, retrieving or expressing information. A learning impairment most frequently manifests in the academic areas of reading, writing and mathematics as well as such functions as attention, concentration, reasoning, memory functions, oral communication and so forth. An inability to pay attention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity, may suggest the possible presence of a learning impairment.

What is the cause of a learning impairment?

A primary learning impairment is often genetically determined and frequently results from a specific neurological dysfunction. Learning backlogs may also be caused by external factors, such as environmental deprivation, emotional problems and so on, but in such cases the learning disability would not be primary.

What are the future prospects of a learner matriculating from the School of Achievement?

Prospects are similar to those of any other learner who has passed Grade 12 with standard grade subjects.

What type of behaviour is characteristic of a learner with a learning impairment?

One or more of the following symptoms may indicate as possible learning impairment:
  • Hyperactivity
  • Attention/concentration problems
  • Emotional immaturity (compared to chronological age)
  • Impulsiveness
  • Poor social skills
  • Fear of foreign situations
  • Poor perseverance
  • Poor self-image and poor self-confidence
  • Planning problems
  • Problems with coordination, laterality and dominance
  • Visual and auditory perceptual limitations
  • Memory dysfunction

Which learners does the School of Achievement accommodate?

Only learners in grade 1 to 12 experiencing a barrier to learning and development (specifically learning impaired) are accommodated – subject to the availability of places. Grade 1 learners are only accepted from the year in which they are of compulsory school going age; again subject to the availability of places.

Many learners who could benefit from the professional multidisciplinary team approach at the school unfortunately go unnoticed. Often the below average performance of these children at school and their demanding behaviour at home hide a learning impairment, which is frequently not recognised. As a consequence they are often negatively labelled, which places further, major hurdles in their way and prevent them from achieving their academic and social potential.

The presence of one or more of the following symptoms will facilitate a decision regarding the child's status as a candidate or not:

  • Soft neurological signs.
  • Impaired sensory-integration in addition to immature visual perceptual abilities.
  • Auditory perceptual problems with concurrent speech and/or language impairments.
  • Poor integration of basic learning skills which may hamper academic progress without remedial intervention.
  • The above-mentioned factors might have a negative effect on the ability to learn to read, spell, write and to acquire mathematical abilities.
  • Diagnosis of the ADD and/or ADHD (according to the DSM-IV).

What is the procedure to be followed when applying for placement at the School of Achievement?

Please click for more information on applying for placement at the School of Achievement.

What type of assistance can the School of Achievement offer learning impaired learners?


The school offers a range of professional support services which typically include occupational, speech, and psychological support for the learning process.
It offers :

  • More individualised education attention.
  • Speech-language therapy to address auditory perceptual and language backlogs (to learners in grades 1 to 6).
  • Occupational therapy to address both motor and perceptual problems.
  • Psycho-Social therapy to address emotional problems (all learners in need are assisted).
  • Special concessions i.e. oral examination, transcription, tape aid.
  • Teachers with an invitational and remedial approach.
Additional support for learners who experience specific learning needs:
  • Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group of Southern Africa
    Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group of Southern Africa (ADHSA) provides support and information to families, therapists, teachers and caregivers interacting with ADD/ADHD children and adults. The challenges of ADD and hyperactivity are also discussed. This organization offers counselling, guidance and referral services. They promote greater community awareness by producing and distributing information to the media and the public in general.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder Association
    Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) provides information, resources and networking to adults with AD/HD and to the professionals who work with them. In doing so, ADDA generates hope, awareness, empowerment and connections worldwide in the field of AD/HD. Bringing together scientific perspectives and the human experience, the information and resources provided to individuals and families affected by AD/HD and professionals in the field focuses on diagnoses, treatments, strategies and techniques for helping adults with AD/HD lead better lives.
  • www.kidsource.com
    Kidsource.com offers information on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for families. This website have brought together some of the best articles on ADD/ADHD.
  • www.web-tv.co.uk
    Find the latest information from leading experts for ADHD, ADD, learning disabilities and other behavioral disorders. Books, videos, audios and resource building materials for adults and children alike. Related Topics are Ritalin, Depression Test, Adult ADD, Anxiety, Mood Disorder, Teen Depression, Bipolar Disorder Medication.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
    The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) provides support to individuals with typical learning difficulties include dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia which are often complicated by associated disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Parents, teachers and other professionals are also supported. LDA provides helpful information on learning disabilities, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources. "LDA believes that every person with learning disabilities can be successful at school, at work, in relationships, and in the community - given the right opportunities."