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A disorder that affects almost 15% of children - parents often don't even suspect the cause of poor learning

Almost 15%, or 50,000 Lithuanian schoolchildren have a specific learning disability - dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia. From a neuroscientific point of view, dyslexia is a disorder in which a person's neural connections code and reproduce information differently. Different doesn't mean better or worse, different means different from what most people are used to. From an educational point of view, it is difficult for such people to read, comprehend and remember what they have read.
According to the Small Community "Learning Peculiarities Center Labyrinth", dyslexia is most often suspected in the early years of school, when a child starts to learn to read and write. It is usually noticed by teachers or parents who point out repetitive mistakes:
  • Replacing letters or syllables;
  • Omission of letters or syllables;
  • Inverting letters;
  • Misreading or guessing word positions;
  • Reading or syllabicisation;
  • Ignoring punctuation marks;
  • Omitting letters when writing, not applying rules;
  • Child writes, reads slowly compared to classmates, etc.
It is important to note that dyslexia is not just all of the above. Nor is it just one or any of these points. It is usually a combination of related learning challenges.
Darius Blažinskas, head of the Learning Peculiarities Center Labyrinth, which he founded three years ago, is optimistic about the processes that are making dyslexia's challenges much easier.
"In recent years, a lot of technological solutions have been introduced, such as audio books, various methodological tests, exercises and computer programmes. The situation is now improving considerably. Last year, laws were passed for dyslexic pupils - exams have been extended, assignment times have been extended, and repetitive mistakes are not assessed," says the co-founder of the Learning Peculiarities Center Labyrinth.
Children with learning difficulties are often only considered to have learning difficulties when measured against the prevailing education system and learning standards. The fact that they need a slightly different learning system, tools and techniques means that their development and learning is slightly different. That's why the Learning Peculiarities Center Labyrinth develops, implements and offers educational institutions and parents comprehensive holistic and research-based methods and programmes to help children improve their cognitive, academic and social skills. A team of professional psychologists, speech and language therapists, special educators and therapists provide the necessary psychological support not only to children with specific learning disabilities, but also to their parents and professionals.
"We are delighted with the success of our projects. And they are making the 'scary' of dyslexia no longer scary. Most importantly, we are making more and more parents and education professionals aware of dyslexia. This year, we are completing the project "Adaptation and implementation of quality systems for children with specific learning disabilities in Lithuania", funded by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism. We have trained 200 education professionals who have acquired new knowledge, or deepened and consolidated existing knowledge, on how to identify pupils with specific learning disabilities and how to provide them with the learning support they need. Another good news is that thanks to the project, 150 parents in Lithuania have consolidated their knowledge on how to help their children with specific learning disabilities", says Darius Blažinskas.
"The Labyrinth team consists of more than 15 professionals in their field. The Center has introduced and adapted a new support mechanism for extracurricular activities and non-formal education for 100 children. The Labyrinth team has also adapted and adapted the RAPID dyslexia risk assessment test for the Lithuanian language and culture. RAPID is a digitised test that helps to identify the risk of specific reading disorders (dyslexia) in just 15-20 minutes. This culturally and linguistically adapted test enables all parents and schools to have a convenient and quick tool to assess the risk of the disorder. During the project, as many as 1200 children from the municipalities of Vilnius, Elektrėnai, Rokiškis and Panevėžys have benefited from this test.
"Looking back at the situation a few years ago, I would argue that today the problems of specific learning disabilities are being addressed in a much more complex way. First of all, it is much easier to recognise and easier to live and learn with. I am glad that in the three years of the existence of the Learning Peculiarities Center Labyrinth, we have made a significant contribution to improving the situation. The most important thing is that there is a visible change in society. This can be a big barrier for children with learning challenges. When it is reduced, we can expect even greater changes", says the founder of the Center.
The total amount allocated to the project is EUR 249 071.88, of which EUR 211 711.10 is from the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism Health Programme. The implementation of the project is supervised by the Central Project Management Agency (CPVA).
About the Health Programme
The European Economic Area Financial Mechanism's Health Programme in Lithuania aims to strengthen mental health services in communities and improve the well-being of children and young people. The programme's various measures include the development of psychosocial support, youth-friendly health services, support for vulnerable children and young people, the establishment of one-stop help centres for children and families, training for parents under the 'Incredible Years' programme, cooperation between families and health professionals, and the development of services and support for pregnant women, mothers in labour, and mothers of children up to the age of two. In total, more than €17.9 million has been earmarked for the Health Programme for 2014-2021. The implementation of the projects is overseen by the Central Project Management Agency (CPVA).
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