Could Your Child Have a Learning Disability?

Katherine Cork's picture
By Katherine Cork on October 17, 2018

If your child is having trouble in school, it might be time to think about whether they have a learning disability.
 
Maybe you’ve been getting notes home from school about their performance. Or you’ve noticed that it takes an excessive amount of time for homework to get done. Or schoolwork is increasingly making them frustrated.
 
None of us want our children to struggle, but getting them the help they need is the most loving thing we can do for them.
 
So where do you start? Here are some tips from Greg Robinson, Ph.D., in Carilion Children’s Child Development department.
 
1. Act quickly.

It’s important to pay attention to frequent complaints about homework, significant avoidance of homework or notes from the teacher, notes Dr. Robinson.
 
“It can be difficult to diagnose disabilities before the third grade level when reading, writing and mathematics are emerging skills, but if your child is having significant difficulties in the second or third grade, it is a good time to ask about getting an evaluation either through the school system or privately.”
 
Find out more about the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities.
 
2. Go to the teacher.

The best first step is to talk to the child’s teacher.
 
“Teachers see your child for hours a day at school,” he says. “They really get to observe what’s going on in an academic setting and can give you great insight.”
 
Get more tips on partnering with your child’s school.
 
3. Be open.

If your child goes through evaluation for learning disabilities, there are a number of different possible outcomes.
 
“By doing some research and making yourself aware of the possibilities, you set yourself up to do the best for your child,” said Dr. Robinson.
 
Learn more about the identification of struggling students.
 
4. Stay calm.

“If your child ends up needing extra help, it’s not a punishment, it’s a way to give them what they need so they can learn,” said Dr. Robinson.
 
Keeping this in mind can help as you navigate the process of having your child evaluated.

5. Explain.

If your child is found to have a learning disability, it will be important for you to help them understand what that means.
 
“People learn differently and need different teaching strategies in school,” said Dr. Robinson. “There’s nothing wrong with that and the child will need to hear that this is about making school easier for them.”
 
Find out more about how to help kids talk about learning disabilities.