Q: My child struggles in school. Could she have a learning disability?
A: Learning disabilities are not caused by environmental factors or cultural differences. Rather, they are a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store and respond to information.
“Some warning signs of learning disabilities are:
* Difficulty with gross and fine motor skills – trouble with buttons, hooks, using a pencil, etc.
* Language – poor grammar, mispronouncing words, difficulty understanding directions or instructions, difficulty staying on topic
* Reading – trouble naming letters, confuses similar looking words, reads slowly, significant trouble learning to read
* Written language – difficulty remembering the shapes of letters and numbers, has trouble staying on the line when writing, reverses letters, numbers, and symbols, dislikes writing and copying
* Math – difficulty with simple counting, difficulty with comparisons, trouble telling time; social/emotional – has difficulty ‘joining in’ and maintaining positive social status in a peer group, has difficulty with self-control when frustrated, may not detect or respond appropriately to teasing;
* Attention – has difficulty sustaining attention in work tasks or play activities, has difficulty organizing tasks and activities, is easily distracted by outside influences, is forgetful in daily/routine activities
* Other – confuses left and right, is slow to learn new games and master puzzles, often loses things,” according to Erika Kemp, occupational therapy supervisor at Firelands Regional Medical Center.
Most children will exhibit problems with learning and behavior from time to time.
It is a consistent and persistent pattern of difficulty seen over time that may signal an underlying learning disability.
The first thing you need to do is have your child seen by your family physician who will decide if she needs to be seen by a specialist for further testing and evaluation.
You will also need to schedule a conference with her teacher to begin the educational evaluation process.
In some cases the evaluation may begin with the teacher contacting the parent, as she may have noticed some difficulties at school. At some point in your child’s care, she may be referred to Speech and Occupational Therapy for further treatment and assistance.