Does your child dread heading to school each morning? Do you notice that your child avoids homework or becomes easily upset or frustrated while working on schoolwork? While it’s true that almost every child will struggle at some point in their academic career, if your child is consistently struggling in a specific area it could indicate a learning disability.
What is a learning disability? Learning disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, typically affecting areas such as reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning and math. But it’s important to remember that children with learning disabilities are still smart – they just learn things differently. It’s possible for children with learning disabilities to do well and succeed. They just need someone to teach them the information in a way that fits their abilities.
What are some warning signs? Since there is such a wide array of learning disabilities, there is no one indicator that will tell you whether or not your child has one. However, there are some common warning signs you can look for, depending on how old your child is.
- Preschool: late speaking, problems with pronunciation, trouble with rhyming words, difficulty or failure to learn numbers, letters, days of the week or colors, difficulty interacting with other children, slow development of fine motor skills and so on.
- Grades K-4: confuses basic words, slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds, repeated reading and spelling errors that include letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), word transpositions (felt/left) or substitutions (house/home), slow to learn new facts and instead relies heavily on memorization, unstable pencil grip, trouble learning about time and so on.
- Grades 5-8: trouble understanding body language and facial expressions, avoids reading aloud in class or in front of others, avoids writing assignments, trouble with handwriting or an awkward, fist-like grip on his or her pencil, difficulty with word problems, trouble with learning prefixes, suffixes and root words, slow or poor recollection of facts, and so on.
- High school: continues to have spelling troubles, such as spelling the same word differently, avoids reading and writing assignments, difficulty with open-ended questions, poor memorization skills, misreads information, has trouble summarizing information, difficulty adjusting to new settings, and so on.
If you suspect your child has a learning disability, there are some steps you should take. First, start keeping a record of your child’s academics. Meet with teachers to discuss your worry and your child’s performance. Request that your child’s school test him or her for a learning disability. Make sure your child’s school make the necessary changes to his or her classroom, routines, etc. that will benefit him or her. Work with your child at home or locate a private tutor that specializes in the area you need. Be honest and talk to your child about his or her disability. Assure your child he or she is smart and will be able to succeed just like every one else.
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