Early exposure to the alphabet, phonetics, vocabulary, counting,etc may reduce or prevent autism and dyslexia?

Question:Will showing babies and toddlers pictures and words, saying out the words aloud and showing 2-3 year olds how to count and do basic adding and subtraction help them in focussing their attention and improving them in spelling and reading later on in life? Just wondering what could be the real reasons behind such conditions. Is there such a thing as inborn learning disability which some people believe, that can be carried throughout adult life?

Answers:
Exposing a child to academics (alphabet or numbers) will not decrease autism or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. We are still unclear as to why specific disabilities such as autism or dyslexia occur. What we do know is that there are links between environment and genetics for some of the individuals that have autism or dyslexia. Autism and dyslexia are on two different disorders but they are both neurological disorders.

“Just wondering what could be the real reasons behind such conditions.” There are many reasons as I said but if you are wondering why so many children are being diagnosed with Autism and learning disabilities than ever before here are my feelings:

1) We have better tool to evaluate disabilities so more children are being diagnosed earlier.
2) We have parents that are educated to look for signs that maybe soft signs to a disability.
3) We have doctors (not all doctors believe parents feelings) that accept a parents feeling that something is not right and will have the parent follow up.
4) Media attention to specific disorders such as autism.

The down side:

1) Misdiagnoses: There are many children that can be on the spectrum of Autism that are not autistic. There is not blood test or scan that shows a person has autism or even dyslexia. It is a list of characteristics. Some children may have those characteristics but land up not having autism and some that have been diagnosis as having dyslexia later find out that they had another issue. This is not as rare as people would like to believe.
2) Parents have high anxiety that their child maybe born or develop a learning disability. High stress can cause issues.

Practicing a child’s attention on academics at a young age will not hurt them unless you do it to a drill and kill and have unrealistic expectations. But there is nothing that says it will help them either. When it comes to Early Intervention for children with Autism typically there are other important areas to address before academics come into the picture. Most of the time, a young child with autism will start early intervention to help existing developmental problems or preventing developmental problems from occurring. For instance, it is important to work on language development, play or social skills, behavior management as well as sitting behavior so a child can attend.

For a child with a learning disability typically the learning disability is not picked up on until the child enters school or it is never picked up on. I am working with adults that are in their early 20’s and late 30’s that knew they had problems with reading and writing but never got help because they were never diagnosed or were just making it through.

Of all learning disabilities I find that Dyslexia is the most misunderstood learning disability. Most assume it only affects reading because letters reverse however there is much more too it. It is the way the brain misinterprets the information it is seeing. It can affect a person’s view of pictures as well as words. There are times that when individual with dyslexia sees a River down the picture. This means that the letters flow like a river moving down the page. So it is difficult to read. The same thing happens with writing. It is difficult to write letters and words if you have never seen the word in a format that makes sense. There are times you can’t even find the line to write on. Dyslexia can be a very complex disorder. There is more research coming out daily about the disorder.

Learning disabilities never are cured. Learning disabilities are with you for as long as you live. However, as you begin to understand your learning disability you begin to learn strategies or have tools to help you function and lesson the affects of the learning disability. For example, I have a learning disability. I have ADHD and my learning disability is around reading and writing. I have learned ways to deal with the symptoms of the disability and I have tools to assist with my writing errors.
I don't know about "prevention," because yes, I think *some* cases of ADD and other learning disabilities are genetic/chemical. But I think by early exposure, there is a chance to can minimize the symptoms. A young child's brain is increadibly elastic and adaptable. Even if one section may not be wired quite right, with therapy, other parts of the brain can be "trained" to take over.

At any rate, reading, interacting and even just playing with a child can help prevent or minimize other possible causes of learning difficulties. While it hasn't been proven beyond a doubt, most doctors strongly recommend zero television/electronics for two and under. Recently, there have been articles on the lack of effectiveness of such programs such as "Baby Einstein." Also, there's more and more research being done on the negative connections between television/electronics and learning in children. In short, nothing but nothing replaces human interaction.

The main site for the Every Child Ready to Read initiative has some very interesting and sobering information. One is the disparities in word knowledge between children who are read to and children who are not. The other is that there is a very strong correlation between a child's knowledge of letters in kindergarten and their ability to read and comprehend in 10th grade.
Ok, you have a lot of different questions here, so let me see if I can sort them out to answer them all...
- Will showing babies/toddlers letters, numbers and speaking to them, help them later in school?
-- Most certainly. Any exposure that you give children will help them perform better and have more knowledge than they would have otherwise. You can never put too much information into a child's head if you approach issues at the right developmental time. Focusing a child's attention takes time... there are certain developmental levels where attention maintenance is not developmentally appropriate.
-Will all these actions reduce autism or dyslexia?
-- Autism is not a "condition" that can be prevented. Dyslexia is also innate, genetically linked disorder that confuses letters and numbers. Behavioral effects of these disorders can be minimized with work, but they are disorders that will follow a person the rest of their life.
-Is there such a thing as inborn disabilities?
-- Most certainly. Most disabilities are disorders that people were born with. The only classified disability that people are not born with is traumatic brain injuries, or physical impairments due to an accident. People with disabilities will have that disability their entire life, to one degree or another. It is the help that they receive early on that makes the most difference in the way that they will function later in life.
Autism and most learning disabilities (except the ones due to head trauma or disease processes) are inborn and cannot be prevented. LD students will have the disability forever, but can be taught to compensate for their learning problems.

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