As a parent, it can be hard to watch your child struggle in school. You want them to succeed and do their best, but sometimes that seems impossible. It’s essential to be aware of the signs of learning disabilities to get your child the help he needs as soon as possible.
This blog post will explore the key indicators of learning disorders, so you can know what to look out for if you suspect your child might have one.
Children with learning difficulties are not dumb or lazy. They just understand things differently.
This affects a child’s confidence and can cause low self-esteem, especially in social situations. Therefore, it’s vital to understand as much about their specific learning needs as possible.
What are Learning Disabilities?
The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDAA) defines learning disabilities (LD) and a specific learning disability (SLD) as problems with the way our neurological system processes information.
Problems with processing can get in the way of learning basic skills like reading, writing, and math.
Learning disabilities can also cause issues with time management, organization, and abstract concepts or reasoning.
Some children don’t mature or develop as fast as their friends. They cannot be expected to do the same type of work if they are behind emotionally.
What Are The Causes Of Learning Disabilities?
We don’t know exactly what causes learning disabilities, but we can guess based on what we see in children who have them.
Possible Causes Of Learning Disabilities Could Include the following:
- When someone has a neurological impairment, they might misinterpret sounds or sights.
- Injuries or a medical condition that occurred before birth or in early childhood, such as a brain injury
- Premature birth or early childhood medical conditions
- Learning disabilities may be genetic. Some children may be more likely to have certain conditions because of their genes.
- Gender might play a role, as boys sometimes develop slower than girls.
- How words, spelling, and pronunciation are set up in the English language can be confusing for some kids.
Four Types Of Learning Disabilities
The different types of learning disabilities are identifiable to all by their specific processing problem in the brain. These are related to the following:
- Input– getting information into the brain
- Organization– making sense of this information
- Memory– storing and later retrieving this information
- Output– getting this information back out
Learning disabilities can affect how a person performs specific actions, such as:
Learning disabilities characteristics
- Difficulties with emotional and social skills
- Lack of appropriate coping mechanisms
- Troubles that appear during normal growth and development
- Acting differently toward different people
- A measurable gap between what the child is expected to learn and how they’re performing
For example, one of the more common learning disabilities is dyslexia. This is when a person has trouble with phonological processing.
This means that those who have dyslexia have issues with things such as:
- Single-word decoding
- Often seeing letters as appearing backward or rearranged in a word
Dyslexia is not related to other academic skills or cognitive abilities, meaning it does not define intelligence. Those who have dyslexia often have a hard time learning to read, spell or write with proficiency.
Common Signs Of Learning Disabilities
- Trouble following directions
- Problems remembering
- Problems with math concepts
- Poor reading fluency and basic reading skills
- Difficulty with writing
- Poor coordination
- Consistently misspells words
- Slow to learn a new skill
- Poor handwriting
- Trouble following classroom discussions
- Trouble expressing thoughts aloud
- Problems staying organized
Additional Signs Of Learning Disabilities
- Difficulty listening
- Inconsistent school performance
- Behavior issues or problems
- Difficulty staying on task
- Doesn’t adjust well to change
- Says one thing, means another
- Delayed speech development or immature speech
Most Common Learning Disabilities
- Dyslexia– Difficulty reading
- Dyscalculia– Difficulty with math
- Dysgraphia– Difficulty with writing
- Dyspraxia– A sensory integration disorder that has difficulty with fine motor skills
- Dysphasia or Aphasia– Difficulty with language
- Auditory Processing Disorder– Difficulty hearing differences between sounds
- Visual Processing Disorder– Difficulty interpreting visual information
Though learning disabilities are life-long, as a parent, you have several options to assist your child with special needs in reaching excellence.
Special education options include inclusion or a self-contained classroom setting, whether your child is in elementary school or high school.
Other options are private schools, charter schools, and supplemental learning, such as through special education tutoring.
The first step is educating yourself on all aspects of your child’s specific learning disability.
The more information you have, the better you will be able to ensure that your child with special needs gets the best possible education. Then, find teachers who understand your child’s unique learning needs.
Learning Disorder Diagnosis
Interestingly, many students in the educational system suffer from a learning disability in a specific area, such as a reading disability or mathematical calculations. However, not all academic difficulties are learning disabilities.
Sadly, English language learners and children who suffer from behavioral problems get marked as learning disabled. Luckily, the public school system uses various methods to identify the students who need accommodations.
Only a licensed professional can diagnose someone with a learning disorder. In addition, for a child to be diagnosed with a learning disorder, they must meet specific criteria.
Learning Disorder Diagnosis Criteria
- Developmental speech disorder
- Academics skill disorder
- Certain coordination difficulties
There are different kinds of learning disabilities. Some are more severe than others. This makes it hard to diagnose the disability accurately.
Interestingly, children may even have more than one disability. This creates a very individual disability for that specific child.
Every student should be treated as a unique individual. However, this individuality complicates the assessment process of identifying learning disabilities.
Important Role of Tests
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) has requirements for how the assessment process should work and what role the assessment should play.
Your child’s IEP determines if the scores and other tests meet the criteria and determine the diagnosis.
The test cannot be the sole criterion for determining if the child has a learning disability. Each test must have a specific purpose. And each child should be tested in their native language.
Types of Tests to Identify Students with Learning Disabilities
Many tests are used to determine if a child has a learning disability. Here are a few examples of tests:
- Records review
- Social Development and social skills history
- Intelligence tests
- Adaptive behavior assessments
Aptitude and Achievement Tests
Depending on the suspected disability, public schools may use a variety of educational assessments, including aptitude and achievement tests.
Typically, achievement tests measure the student’s progress toward academic achievement, and aptitude tests measure the student’s ability.
The examiner may give an aptitude test by asking a student questions one-on-one. This can be oral responses or written tests.
However, the examiner may also give the test to a group of students. But giving the test one-on-one is more beneficial.
For example, the examiner will be able to see how motivated the student is and what behaviors get in the way of doing well.
Along with the aptitude test, the examiner can give achievement tests individually. An achievement test can determine the student’s skill and collect new information in any given area.
Educational Reform Affects Education Programs
With each new presidential administration came further attempts at educational reform. For example, during the Bush administration, they developed the No Child Left Behind Act, which holds every student to the same standards.
However, with every student included and many children receiving services under IDEA, teachers are trying to find better ways to help learning-disabled students.
Teachers assist their students by including all necessary information in the student’s IEP to their specific needs.
Holding all students to the same standards means that students with learning disabilities must complete standardized testing and the implications that follow if they fail to pass the tests.
Proper accommodations are essential but, unfortunately, also complex. Many states are looking for ways to accommodate students with learning disabilities.
Additional Resources for Students with Learning Disabilities
There are many different tests to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. The key to determining this information is using various reliable tests that will give the same results when given to different students.
Students with learning disabilities deserve the accommodations they need to be successful in school. Let us help with the process!
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
This sentiment by educator Ignacio Estrada perfectly sums up the state of education in the world today. So many children are struggling with trying to keep up with their peers, despite a learning disability of some sort.
We need to change the way we teach people who learn differently.
Motivation, communication, and positive reinforcement are ways you can assist your child with special needs to improve their academic performance.
Special Education Services
If you feel your child is showing signs of a learning disability, seek professional help. First, get your child a qualified diagnosis and start the process of creating an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
All children are guaranteed a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), especially children with special needs.
Special education services do a great deal in assisting children with special needs during a regular school day. Learning disabilities, however, continue after the school day and extend well into homework and self-study activities. Therefore, consider looking into extra help.
Special Education Tutoring
Supplemental learning through special education tutoring helps ease the frustration often felt when a child with special needs is overwhelmed academically.
Supplemental learning with a special education tutor takes their curriculum from your child’s classroom and molds it to fit their specific learning needs.
Children with learning disabilities benefit significantly from special education tutoring. It is the right support in the specific academic areas they need.
As a result, they typically see a massive increase in test scores and grades. They also usually notice a significant decrease in behavior issues often associated with the frustration caused by being overwhelmed academically.
Other Articles You May Want to Read Next:
- What are the Steps in the Special Education Process?
- 7 Steps Of The IEP Process
- 6 Benefits Of A Child Advocate In An IEP Meeting
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