How can I tell if my child has a learning disability?

Children learn at different rates and with different styles during the kindergarten years; however, if your child has significant trouble learning numbers and letters or with speech, he may have a learning disability. Knowing the signs of learning disabilities and getting the necessary early intervention is key to the child’s success. imgresThe earlier the learning disability is detected, the better chance the child will have of succeeding in school and in life. Because the first years in school are crucial to a child, it is important to recognize signs of a learning disability early on. Difficulty with reading and language is the most common learning disability. Studies have shown that students who are at risk for reading difficulties were able to achieve average or above average reading ability when they received help early on. Parents can give their children the necessary skills for coping with and compensating for a learning disability, with early detection and intervention. Children with learning diimgressabilities process information differently, but are generally of average or above-average intelligence. A learning disability can affect a child’s ability to read, write, speak, do math, and build social relationships. Early warning signs commonly associated with learning disabilities between the preschool years and fourth grade are listed below. Many times, young children will exhibit one or two of these behaviors, but consistent problems with a group of behaviors are a good indication that your child may have a learning disability.

Early Warning Signs for Preschoolers:

  • Late talkers, compared to other children
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Slow vocabulary growth, often with word-finding difficulties
  • Difficulty identifying and producing rhyming words
  • Difficulty learning numbers, the alphabet, and days of the week
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Trouble interacting with peers
  • Poor ability to follow directions or routines
  • Poor fine motor skills

What should I do?

If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, a complete psychological evaluation will need to be completed in order to make a firm diagnosis. Speech-language-pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists will be part of the team to give information to the psychologists on how the child performs in the areas of speech, language, motor, and sensory skills. Evaluations for each area of concern will be helpful in order to see what level your child is functioning at for each specific area. Many children with learning disabilities will require speech therapy in order to focus on goals to target improvement of speech and language skills, such as reading, understanding/using language, phonemic awareness tasks, following directions, etc. Children will not only make improvement toward each goal, but learn specific compensatory strategies in order to help them overcome these challenging areas. Children with learning disabilities may also require occupational therapy in order to focus on fine motor skills, such as cutting, gluing, grasping a pencil correctly, buttoning, zipping, and tying. A collaboration of therapies, along with tutoring may be required. Children with learning disabilities can be successful in school and life with early intervention and team collaboration approach!