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Does My Child Have a Learning Disorder

Sometimes the very words "Learning Disorder" send parents running for cover. There are many types of learning disorders, from mild to severe, and they don’t necessarily signal an end to your child’s Harvard dreams. In most cases, a learning disorder means your child may need to try harder or get specialized instruction. Listed below are four common learning disorders:

  • Dyslexia – impairs a person's ability to read
  • Social and Emotional Disorders – inability to learn caused by unsatisfactory interpersonal relationships
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, or sometimes referred to as ADD) - a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination of the two.
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - sudden trauma to the brain, such as a concussion

Let's consider this example. John is in 5th grade and has always been a good student but does not do well on his spelling tests. He claims that he studies all the words, yet his test scores and poor homework grades do not reflect his effort. He likes his other subjects. John's teacher has brought up his poor spelling grades to his parents at a parent-teacher conference. All are at a loss for what to do. A specific problem in a certain area can be a red flag. John, the student above, is likely dyslexic, a disorder that may cause students to struggle with spelling, no matter how much they study. Traditional teaching won’t work for John. John would probably benefit by learning specific techniques to help him learn to check his words for errors.

What should a parent do who feels that a child may have a learning disorder?

  • Talk to the teacher. She may provide outside resources or direction.
  • Talk to the school counselor. Your school counselor is an expert on different types of disabilities and may have further suggestions for you.
  • Get an evaluation by a psychologist. Schools often require written professional documentation to qualify for special services or accommodations.
  • Read and research learning disabilities, Use the Internet, library, and credible sources to get more information about your child's problem.
  • Talk to other parents. Call your school district or community education center to find out if there are any groups in your area.
  • Support your child. Include him in the process, and let him know you are trying to help him.
  • Consult a family therapist or counselor to help evaluate your child or to get a second opinion.

You know your child best. If you notice any changes in your child’s school performance, don’t hesitate to get help. Teachers are prepared to help you help your child.