It may be that learning difficulties are more acceptable than they used to be and therefore more accepted. This will inevitably lead to more children being identified but I do not think this is the whole picture. I personally believe that the incidence is on the increase, not simply the recognition.
There are many reasons for the increase; some of these lie within the educational field, others in nutritional and yet others in social and environmental.
Educational causes may stem from the early time that children in the UK start school. I personally believe that at rising 5 some are ready but many are not. This results in a very early experience of frustration and failure. If children learned through play for longer, as they do in many other countries, to about age 6 more children would be ready, less would experience failure and academic learning would benefit, not suffer. Teachers life would be easier as the child is more physically, socially and emotionally ready for separation, independence and academic learning. Teaching is also approached in a primarily left brained approach, verbal, linear, sequential. Many infant and primary teachers are female. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of younger children with learning difficulties are boys. This may be genetic, it may, however, have some bearing on gender difference in approach and application to learning. It is recognised that boys are more physically active, that they learn more by doing, that their verbal skills are not as advanced at a young age as in girls.
I do not wish in any way to imply criticism of teachers. They have less and less choice in the selection of the syllabus, they have no choice in the age of the child entry to school, more and more academic subjects are squeezing out games and P.E. Teachers training is almost entirely governed by what and how to teach, rather than how, why, and when children learn.
More and more mothers are working, able to give less time to child development. Most mothers have lost the extended family and have little experience in mothering. The streets are busy with cars, life outside the home is becoming perceived as more and more dangerous. Children are becoming more and more sedentary, less physically active, stimulating those nerve fibres less and less in a physical way. Babyhood is becoming more sanitised, more assisted, more mechanised. Babies do not spend the hours on the floor, they sit propped up in buggies, chairs, carriers. They learn to be upright too quickly on bouncers, walkers, they miss out on the vital developmental stages. They travel in cars, no longer running, skipping, they sit watching television, playing on computers. The mind is stimulated, but the body is not preparing the mind to work with that stimulation.
I am not intending to criticise mothers, I am one and have 2 children with learning difficulties. I didn’t know many of the things I could have done to promote development.
The methods of farming have changed, we are currently aware of some of the detrimental effects of that with BSE and Foot and Mouth. The soils are over farmed, deficient in vital nutrients, the animals and plants, dependent upon the soil for growth and health, are deficient in those vital nutrients too. The animals are fed antibiotics, the children are therefore also fed antibiotics. The pregnant mothers are fed antibiotics. Food is being genetically modified, chemically modified, denatured, desaturated, refined. Milk and sugar are added to everything; try and find any prepared food that doesn’t contain either. Foods contain flavourings and sweeteners that have nothing to do with food, they stimulate nerves, over stimulate nerves, and without the proper levels of nutrients they can play havoc with the brain and with behaviour.
The food industry are under great pressure to feed all, feed what we want, what looks attractive, what is well shaped, brightly coloured, already prepared and we accept all of their efforts. Collectively we must accept our responsibility.
Doctors are pressurised to cure, to preserve and prolong life, they have a miraculous kit bag of chemicals produced over the last century to do just that. Except at what risk; at what expense, both financial and physical. Again we must all accept our responsibility, question what it is we really want, what it is we really expect. Life is not without risk, without, disease, without pain and without death.