Article at a Glance
Learning disabilities are common among children. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 2.4 million American public school students with identified learning disabilities and who receive services under IDEA (The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
While growing, children may face many learning challenges throughout their education, but recurring challenges in the same areas could be signs of a learning disability. It’s important that parents understand what different learning disabilities look like, as well as what to do if they suspect their child may have a learning disability. Understanding, recognizing, and planning are the first steps in ensuring a positive outlook for a child with a learning disability.
A learning disability is a condition that interferes with an individual’s ability to learn and can affect how they read, write, speak and process information. It’s important to realize that learning disabilities are not reflective of your child’s intelligence. The key difference is that these children may have trouble processing certain types of input or expressing knowledge. Early recognition and intervention can help children in overcoming their hurdles as well as help educators teach in a way that includes the children’s specific learning processes.
Learning disabilities are broad-ranging in type and severity, but can generally be categorized into a few defining characteristics. Early-education problems with reading, writing, and math; language or speech disorders; and physiological disorders that include fine motor skills and coordination.
Parents are likely the first ones to notice signs of a learning disability in their children, even before their education begins. That’s because learning disabilities are relevant not just in learning-specific environments like school, but ingrained in everyday learning as children intake new information and begin to express themselves.
Parents should watch their children to see if they have difficulty:
The first thing you should do is see your child’s pediatrician. In addition to ruling out health problems, pediatricians can offer guidance about any necessary screenings or testing for your child.
If your pediatrician identifies a learning disability, you can formulate a long-term plan and gather the information your child’s school may need to move forward. You can also arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss your pediatrician’s findings, intervention options, and next steps. With careful screenings and the right intervention, your child’s future learning can be greatly improved. Early intervention can have an impact that lasts a lifetime.