If you suspect your child’s school difficulties may be caused by child learning disabilities, consult your child’s teacher, school counselor, school social worker, school psychologist or principal for advice, or ask to have your child evaluated by the school. If this process seems daunting to you, call us and let us help you better understand the process as a whole.
First of all, have your child evaluated. How do you know if your child has a learning disability that meets legal criteria? It would be great if we could give them a blood test or a throat culture, but it’s not that easy. Parents, teachers and administrators have to rely on a combination of specific criteria. The school will do testing for learning disabilities. They will be looking for nonverbal learning disabilities, verbal learning disabilities, and other types of learning disabilities.
Becoming “classified” as having a learning disability gives you opportunities through the public education system that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It doesn’t do anything else, nor is it a label that is carried with them through life. It just allows the state to exercise more options.
Become educated. If your child is classified as having a learning disability, learn what’s available to your child. Contact your state education department for information. You can also contact the Learning Disabilities Association of America for advice. Many strategies can help your child learn. Go online or go to the library or local bookstore to find books on child learning disabilities.
Be an involved parent. It’s important to help you child but don’t make a career of your child’s learning disability. Accept it, understand it, make adjustments and move on with your lives. Too many parents become over-involved, some to the point of being obsessive-compulsive about their child’s learning disability. This is harmful to them and to their children.
What if, after testing, you find your child doesn’t have a learning disability? Our schools are filled with children who, in spite of having learning problems all through school, don’t meet the state or federal guidelines for having a learning-disability.
These children often aren’t provided sufficient support. They may be given remedial reading in the lower grades. However, for the most part, once they reach middle and high school, they’re on their own. They may not be able to keep up with the reading, writing, or math.
Now it’s up to you to step in. Have the school start testing for learning disabilities. Get tutoring. Do what’s appropriate to get the help your child needs. Your child deserves school success. The good news is that many school districts now have learning labs and other support systems in order to address these students’ needs, and most private schools provide additional support.
You can take your child to a qualified professional, usually a neuropsychologist or psychiatrist. Or ask your pediatrician if she has a list of professionals who can help. And remember, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion.