It is usually the parents or teacher who realizes the child has some kind of learning disability. If you are a parent, you might notice that they are not as verbal as other children of their age, or they might not be able to identify their shapes, letters, or numbers. Teachers might be the first ones to notice that the child gets very restless and refuses to sit when being taught certain concepts at school. It is very important for a teacher or parent to identify these learning disabilities as soon as possible.
WHAT ARE LEARNING DISABILITIES (LD)?
Learning disabilities are usually permanent issues that affect a person’s ability to absorb and retain new information. Some conditions can go hand-in-hand with LD such as ADD, ADHD, OCD, or autism but are not learning disabilities as such. Also being deaf, blind, or having an arm missing are not learning disabilities.
Most often Learning Disabilities are:
- Dyslexia – issues with reading
- Dysgraphia – issues with writing
- Dyscalculia – issues with numbers
- Auditory Processing Disorder – issues not with hearing but understanding oral information
- Visual Processing Disorder – issues not with seeing but understanding visual information
- Nonverbal Learning Disorder – issues with communication, social skills, and motor coordination
WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOU SUSPECT YOUR CHILD HAS LD?
It is CRITICAL that action is taken when an issue has been identified. As a parent, do not wait by assuming they will “grow out of it.” LD children can be very successful, when there is early and intense intervention.
- Have your child tested, either by the school district or by a private testing facility.
- After the testing is complete, have a meeting and discuss the results.
- Bring other people to the meeting who are involved in the day-to-day life’s of your child (nanny, grandmother, older brother, etc.).
- Have somebody take notes.
- Ensure you understand what your child is diagnosed with.
- Ask for more information, resources, plan of action.
- If the school district did the testing, ask for what kind of accommodations your child needs. Do not take no for an answer. Some school districts are reluctant to provide any kind of services.
- If privately tested, have the facility provide you with a lists of appropriate schools (both private and public), tutoring services, and online programs.
Determine if your child is eligible for a 504 or IEP (Individual Education Plan). The 504 plan allows for certain accommodations (extra time, use of calculator) while an IEP will have accommodations and services such as 2 hours per week of special education in reading.
ACCOMMODATIONS @ SCHOOL
If a child has learning disabilities, there are many accommodations that can be made, depending on their age and severity of their needs. Listed below are just a sample of accommodations that are often made with LD children at school
- Provided extra time for assignments and tests
- Provided additional breaks
- Preferred seating in the classroom
- Having the assignment and tests read to them
- Having the use of a calculator or multiplication tables
- Having shorter assignments (instead of 30 spelling words, only 5)
- Having a scribe that takes notes or writes down assignments
- Use whatever pen, pencil, and paper they prefer
- Taking tests orally versus written
- Being able to type the answers
- Allow for the use of a computer or iPad within the classroom
- Shorter school days
- Have two books: one at home and one at school
- Teacher provide notes that the child can fill in
ACCOMMODATIONS @ HOME
When a child with Learning Disabilities comes home, they are often tired from all the effort they put out in school. You might have to adjust their activities, chores, and homework amount.
- Let them decompress after school.
- Buy them an iPad as this device has a lot of benefits for the child. There are literally thousands of good apps in the App Store that can help them get and stay organized, plan homework, and improve their reading such as eReading: Gulliver’s Travels.
If your child is falling behind or not progressing as fast as you think they should, get them tested and evaluated. Early intervention is important as well as appropriate accommodations. This way your child can and will be successful.