If your child is consistently struggling with school such as reading out loud, writing words on paper, or solving relatively easy math problems, this could indicate a learning disorder. If so, this doesn’t mean that your child isn’t smart. In fact, most kids with learning disabilities are just as intelligent as any other child. However, their brains are not wired in the same way which affects how they receive and process information.
Sometimes a child with a learning disorder may appear to be “slow” or easily distracted. Or, a child frustrated with his inability to master certain skills may be disruptive with frequent outbursts. However, most children with learning disorders can and do succeed in school and beyond once they are given the right tools and attention tailored to their specific needs.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology states that frequent signals of learning disorders parents should watch for in their child include the following
- difficulty understanding and following instructions.
- trouble remembering what someone just told him or her.
- fails to master reading, spelling, writing, and/or math skills, and thus fails
- difficulty distinguishing right from left; difficulty identifying words or a tendency to reverse letters, words, or numbers; (for example, confusing 25 with 52, “b” with “d,” or “on” with “no”).
- lacks coordination in walking, sports, or small activities such as holding a pencil or tying a shoelace.
- easily loses or misplaces homework, schoolbooks, or other items.
- difficulty understanding the concept of time; is confused by “yesterday, today, tomorrow.”
Some of the more common learning disorders are:
Dyslexia – Commonly known as a reading disorder because people have trouble connecting letters with words and sounds.
Dyspraxia – This disorder creates problems with fine and gross motor skills such as hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and maintaining balance.
Dysgraphia – Children with dysgraphia have trouble with the physical act of writing. Their handwriting is typically hard to read and often words are misspelled or omitted.
Dyscalculia – This is basically a math-based learning disorder that creates problems with memorizing or organizing numbers in sequence. Often children will also have difficulty learning how to tell time or using money.
Auditory Processing Disorder – This impacts how a child hears sounds or words, and creates problems with reading and writing.
Visual Processing Disorder – This makes it hard for a child to understand visual information such as pictures, shapes, or symbols. In turn, this can affect their reading and math comprehension, as well as fine and gross motor skills.
Something else to consider is that some learning disorders are similar to other disorders such as ADHD or Autism. This may cause a misdiagnosis if not properly evaluated. Learning Disorders can also co-occur with other disorders which creates a whole new subset of issues.
It’s not easy to identify learning disorders, which is why a professional, comprehensive evaluation by a qualified mental health specialist is so important. Once the true nature of the disorders have been identified, steps can be taken that may include therapy, medication, and/or special education services and accommodations to help them meet their educational goals.