In the practice, we have often been encountered situations when teachers of various subjects (which indicates the existence of a systemic problem) have difficulties in identifying the student’s learning disabilities, e.g. dyslexia (reading disorder) or dyscalculia (difficulty calculating). Teachers most often conclude that the child is lazy, do not want to push and invest extra work in the subject. The special educator is mostly involved only in cases when the student has poor performance in several subjects in combination with / without behavioral problems. It is important to note that learning disabilities are characterized by the existence of problems in only one subject. Pupils develop low self-esteem precisely because of this subject, which, in turn, causes further problems in other subjects (for example, understands mathematics, but is not able to read the rules of tasks quickly enough; etc.).

In our opinion, the reasons for the inability to identify learning disabilities are the following:

  • Teachers have difficulties diagnosing dyscalculia

    Most teachers were educated 20 or even 30 years ago. At that time, little was taught about inclusive education and various learning disabilities. Although various courses are currently available in which it is possible to receive information about such students, unfortunately the information presented in Latvia is rather of a theoretical nature, without a practical orientation. If the teacher does not even attend such courses on working with children with learning disabilities, it is only necessary to rely on the intuitive experience of the teacher. However, without knowing the existence of the problem, there is little chance of noticing it and adjusting the training process accordingly;

  • Shortage of specialists

    There is a lack of specialists / institutions in Latvia that could explain how to recognize learning disabilities in general education institutions. Thus, the problem deepens and students continue to learn the subject according to the current methodologies.

Compared to the practice in Germany, where inclusive education is developed at a very high level, we can point out that all schools are regularly provided with and updated information materials on how to identify a child with a learning disability (such as dyslexia or dyscalculia) and in which subjects the student could difficulties arise. Any child who is diagnosed with dyslexia or dyscalculia receives additional state-paid classes with the appropriate specialists, who work closely with teachers of the subject.

To solve the above problems, the Dyscalculia Association of Latvia has been established. We believe that in the conditions of Latvia, every child, every student is a value, and he or she should not be prematurely written off or his or her self-esteem should not be reduced by placing them in the category of lazy or intellectually disabled people due to our ignorance. In Latvia, timely recognition of learning disabilities must be updated and Latvia’s inclusive education system must be improved accordingly.