We see children struggling to learn within our school systems each and every day. Learning disabilities are extremely common and in fact according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one in every five children are affected. These children are more likely to fall behind causing them to repeat a grade, get in trouble at school/with the law, and eventually they could drop out making it difficult to pursue a career as an adult. How this is prevented is simple, but first you must understand what a learning disability truly is.
The Learning Disabilities Association of America defines a learning disability as a neurological disorder that comes in many different forms. The forms include dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyslexia. Dyscalculia affects the way the brain processes numbers and math facts. Dysgraphia affects a person’s handwriting and fine motor skills. The most well-known is Dyslexia, and this affects reading and language-based processing skills. Kids can be ashamed and carry this disability with them into adulthood. Some may never disclose their disability with close friends or even their significant other. But, what people don’t realize is these kids are just as smart as their peers! Looking for the early signs and identifying the problem(s) will help significantly with your child’s early development skills and reaching their full potential.
Looking for the signs
It can be very challenging to identify if your child truly has a learning disability or not. Pay close attention to the little warning signs when you start introducing them to the first stages of school (informational learning, i.e. memorization). There are different ways to pinpoint if your child has a problem.
- Difficulty connecting sounds & letters or pronouncing words
- Problems with counting
- Difficulties using crayons/paint
- Trouble being understood by strangers
- Difficulty with dressing themselves
- Can’t speak in full sentences
- Continuously forgets newly learned information
- Trouble holding pencil/writing
- Problems following directions & routines
- Can’t play age appropriate games
Now that you have identified the signs it is time for you to take the next steps for your child or loved one to live up to their full potential!
The first step after you have a suspicion that your child is struggling it is time to seek professional help and have an evaluation done. There are plenty of resources for you to take action. The easiest would be to see your pediatrician to meet with them and discuss your concerns. You could also contact the school your child is attending and let them know you would like to have your child evaluated or to keep them updated with the evaluation process. Most likely, they will have noticed the signs or will recommend you to someone you should see for the professional evaluation. After they evaluate your child’s basic skills, they will go over their results and tell you if your child should need to receive special education services or additional help. If this is the case they will go over a learning plan based on where the help is most needed. Most schools accommodate to the specific learning plan for any child with a disability or already have a plan set for different types of disabilities. During this process, your child could become very self-conscious or embarrassed. This is normal and happens quite often, that is why as a parent it is important for you to help continuously build up their self-esteem. Some easy ways to do this are by pointing out things your child is good at and praising them for that specific attribute. Also, getting them involved in activities they know they do very well at! This will help develop their self-worth and determination to keep striving to succeed even with the extra difficulties.
Living with a learning disability can be difficult for all parties. Remember, this does not make someone less than anyone else and with your help, love, and support your child will strive to be the absolute best at anything they put their mind to!
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