When faced with the possibility their child may have a learning disability (LD), parents are naturally concerned. Especially when trying to look into the future and visualizing how this may affect their struggles in school and life in general. Of course, it’s important to know that an LD doesn’t mean a child is a blockhead and can’t learn anything – it just means they learn differently and accommodations will need to made so they can adapt.

So how do you know if your child may have a learning disability? These are a few of the signs school-age children may wrestle with:

• Difficulty remembering sequences
• Trouble finding the right word or often mispronounces them
• Difficulty understanding and following instructions
• Struggles with mastering reading, math and/or writing skills
• Trouble with motor skills such as tying shoes, buttoning a jacket, or using scissors
• Lacks coordination in walking, running, or sports
• Easily loses or misplaces homework, schoolbooks, or other items
• Slow to learn new skills

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends paying attention to developmental milestones which can be found on their website: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/.

A developmental delay doesn’t necessarily mean a child has an LD; however, it’s important to pay attention and talk to your doctor about an evaluation. The earlier the intervention, the easier things will be to work out.

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 disabilities can also co-occur with other disorders which creates additional issues.

Failure to recognize a learning disability at an early age can have a very negative impact on a child’s life. They become frustrated because they cannot master certain skills and keep up with their peers, so parents may see some unattractive behavior. Classmates may ridicule and bully the child, which lowers their self-esteem and causes depression and/or anxiety.

Parents are advised to be in close communication with teachers, guidance counselors, and other adults their child interacts with so they can be aware of potential problems. Encourage children to talk about any concerns they may have with fear of being reprimanded.

It’s not easy to identify a learning disability, which is why a professional, comprehensive evaluation by a qualified mental health specialist is so important. Once the disability has 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.

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