Early Warning Signs Of A Child Learning Disability

Learning disabilities in children is a common problem. It is important that proper help be obtained for the child's academic and emotional well-being.

Learning disabilities in young children are a very gray area. They should not be diagnosed until a child has entered school. They are usually spotted in kindergarten or first grade, but it could be later.

A learning disability is not mental retardation. It does not mean the child is slow. It does mean that although the child has a normal or above normal IQ he is not acquiring learning at the expected rate or level. There are any numbers of disorders that come under the heading of learning disability.

A learning disability may affect reading, writing, math, spoken language, listening ability, thinking or spelling. There may be just one area affected or there may be several areas of learning affected. Often a learning disabled child has a learning disabled parent who may or may not have been diagnosed.

Because reading, writing and math are introduced in kindergarten it may become apparent that the child is not able to learn these skills as quickly as most other students. Many students in kindergarten are not yet ready for reading, writing and math and it may be that the child simply needs more time to grow and mature. Often the kindergarten teacher will recommend that the child repeat kindergarten and sometimes that is all that is needed to catch up.

If a child repeats kindergarten and is still having trouble, the teacher will probably recommend that he be tested by the school psychologist. Only a licensed psychometrist can test your child accurately for a learning disability and only with your written permission.

It is not advised that a parent consider learning disability prior to kindergarten. Remember, learning disability is not mental retardation. If you think your child may be mentally retarded it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible.

A child who seems normally intelligent but has trouble remembering nursery rhymes or other words MAY later develop learning problems due to a learning disability. A child who is awkward or clumsy for no discernable reason may later show signs of a learning disability. A child that does not, or cannot, focus on normal stimuli for more than a few seconds before losing attention MAY develop a learning disability. A child that often daydreams or stares off into space or a child that is always in motion MAY later be diagnosed with a learning disability. A child who is easily frustrated when trying to learn something new, MAY be learning disabled.

Your child's teacher can advise you if he is progressing normally. If there is an obvious problem, the teacher may want to refer your child for testing. Sometimes children are able to get by until 3rd or 4th grade before their disability becomes noticeable.

Teachers are very familiar with what is normal learning for their grade level. The teacher cannot diagnose a learning disability but she can recommend that the child be tested to see if there is a disability. The teacher certainly can identify students who are struggling or having unusual difficulty.

If the tests do indicate a specific learning disability you have several options available to you to meet your child's special needs in public education. Your school will advise you of those options if your child qualifies for a special program.

Many learning disabled people go to college and graduate school; my own son-in-law is an example. A learning disability can be frustrating for the child and his parents but it is not an academic dead-end.

With the correct help and encouragement a learning disabled child can grow into a fully productive adult. If the problem is ignored or mishandled, the child could become a behavior problem, act out, and fail. His self-esteem will be adversely affected.

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