When and How To Test Your Child For Learning Disability
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Academic work is hard for many kids, but serious and repeated difficulties could be an indication of a more pressing problem. If your child struggles in school, it could be traced to the presence of a learning disability.

Spotting a learning disability early on and addressing it is the only way to ensure they can manage their challenges and help them succeed academically.

Here’s how to go about it:

 1.      Identify The Symptoms

Start by evaluating your child’s current behaviour; the things they are doing that make you think there is an issue.

Take note of and write down behaviours or challenges your child faces that you feel may be odd.

This history will be especially useful when you talk to a professional.

Watch out for some of these struggles and symptoms that are commonly seen across many learning disabilities.

Observe and talk with your child to see if they experience symptoms such as:

  •       Poor reading comprehension or writing abilities.
  •       A short attention span.
  •       Poor memory retention.
  •       Struggles following directions.
  •       Difficulty differentiating between or among letters, numbers, and sounds.
  •       Poor eye-hand coordination.
  •       Noticeably differing performance from day-to-day. Etc.

You can also ask their teachers if your child has reported any particular problems to them. Also, take note if a teacher says your child is excessively active or disruptive.

2.      Watch Out For Specific Learning Disabilities

Be sure to watch out for more specific learning disabilities like:

A.    Dyslexia

Dyslexia is when a child has difficulty in understanding the relationship between sounds, letters, and words; or while reading they cannot understand the meaning of words, phrases, and paragraphs. Symptoms include:

  •       Difficulty associating letters with sounds.
  •       Trouble sounding out unfamiliar words.
  •       Difficulty writing or copying words or letters in order.
  •       Pronunciation confusion, such as “boft sat” instead of “soft bat.”
  •       Difficulty with reading level, reading aloud, and reading comprehension.

B.      Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia impacts an individual’s ability to understand numbers and/or learn mathematical concepts.

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Some children have a tough time telling the time from the clock and may also struggle in memorizing the tables and adding (6+6= 12 or 6×6=36).

Other symptoms may include difficulty counting by twos, fives, tens, etc., and difficulty distinguishing between or ordering numbers.

C.      Dysgraphia

If your child’s learning disability is dysgraphia, you’ll find that he/she cannot maintain neatness while writing.

They may have difficulty in putting their thoughts into writing and spelling correctly.

Common warning signs include illegible handwriting, inconsistent spacing on the page, and poor spatial planning on paper.

D.      Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

Auditory processing disorder, commonly referred to as receptive language problems, involves difficulty processing and distinguishing between sounds, making it difficult, making it difficult to understand spoken language.

Children with APD may also have a difficult time recognizing where sounds come from or arranging sounds mentally, and this can lead to difficulty in reading, writing, and spelling.

E.      Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)

An individual with this disorder has eyes that work fine; however, this information can get jumbled inside the brain. Symptoms include:

Difficulty reading; skipping words and lines, or reversing letters, hand-eye coordination issues, and depth perception trouble (information appears clumsy).

3.      Seek Professional Help

A step in the right direction to take post noting likely symptoms for learning disability in your child is to schedule an evaluation.

There is a limit to which untrained professionals (you, their teacher, other family members, etc.) should make diagnostic decrees without the input of a trained professional.

If you have reasons to believe your child has a learning disability or a condition that can make learning more difficult, schedule an evaluation with your family doctor or one recommended by your doctor.

4.     Get A Diagnosis For Learning Disability

They’ll have questions about your family medical history and the child’s academic performance, so, work with them to gather supplementary information they may want to review from your home or your child’s school.

Things like report cards, work samples, teacher comments, and more.

The doctor will also help you to rule out medical reasons for learning problems, such as poor vision or hearing.

At the end of the day, they may refer you and your child to a neurologist to get a more complete picture of how the child’s brain functions.

Ask for a written report of the professional’s diagnosis after their evaluation is done.

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Ask also, questions like “How can I work with my child’s school to help them get the attention and treatment they need in class?”

Have the psychiatrist and/or therapist spell out the measures of progress they would like to see.

They may want something from the school, or they may want an evaluation directly from you or child. Ask also, the communication mode work best for them.

5.      Set Up A Care Plan

The type of education and treatment your child needs will obviously depend upon their diagnosis.

Once you have a written report with your child’s diagnosis and professional recommendations for treatment options, work at home as well as with your child’s school to get them the care they need.

Inquire about the techniques the teacher will use with your child and how they will help benefit your child’s learning.

Also ask about the instructional methods will be used to help integrate your child into inclusive general education classes.

And check in regularly with your child’s teachers and ask them, “Is there anything we can do to help my child’s treatment and development?”

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