Identifying the Problem and Getting Help
By Jennifer Gordon, M.A. Educational Therapist
Learning disabilities are problems that affect the brain’s ability to receive process, analyze, or store information. The term Learning Disabilities sounds scary, but actually includes a very broad set of issues that are quite common and diverse, and, most importantly very addressable. The good news is that there is a vast array of resources available to help with learning disabilities. The earlier an issue is identified the better it can be addressed. Detecting and identifying problems can be challenging and navigating all the assessment options can be dizzying.
While there might be early childhood signals to keep a look out for, like delays in development milestones, more commonly a learning disability is brought to your attention by one of your child’s teachers. It’s frequently challenging for parents of children with LDs to accept and acknowledge their children may need help. It’s not an indictment of one’s parenting skills and is usually very addressable.
Some signals you can look out for and your teachers may mention include difficulties in the following areas:
Students may need to have instructions repeated to them often. They have a difficult time staying on task, are easily distracted and find it hard to follow directions.
Students may have difficulties decoding, recognizing words or comprehending them. They may lose their place easily or re-read the same sentence multiple times and have trouble understanding the main idea.
Students may have difficulty with sentence structure, spelling, penmanship, frequently reverse letters and numbers and have trouble with the ability to organize ideas.
Students may have difficulty with word problems, recalling math facts and abstract reasoning.
Students may find it hard to process information to be stored for long-term memory. They also have a hard time retrieving the information later when it’s needed to complete assignments.
Students may have poor time management skills, study skills and/or note taking skills. These are important for storing information that needs to be recalled later on.
It’s important not to rush to judgment, but if you or your teachers have concerns, you should consider getting your child assessed. There are a number of options available to you.
You can have your child tested at your local public school. If these tests indicate that your child requires special educational services, the school evaluation team will meet to develop an individual educational plan (IEP). Regardless of whether your child attends your local public school, the law requires your school district to provide special education testing. Alternatively, you can have private testing done. These are commonly administered by an educational psychologist, clinical psychologists, or neuropsychologists.
Learning disabilities have a huge range from mild to sever and are very common. Whatever decision is made by you and your family, early intervention is the most effective route in helping children with learning disabilities.
Jennifer Gordon’s Educational Therapy practice is based in Los Angeles where she works with students K thru 12.