Child Learning Disabilities

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.


  1. My daughter is a new 7th grade student at a private school.
    The school is very challenging for her. Every nine weeks her
    grades have been getting lower. In the past she has been
    homeschooled and has had one on one. Also, she has had
    less work and at a much slower pace. She has tutoring for two hours
    each week. I have had meetings with her teachers and they
    feel she spends to much time socializing with friends at school.
    The teachers have commented that she has trouble balancing
    her social and academics. I have offered to help her monitor her
    school work,however, she refuses my help. Instead she wants to
    manage all her homework and study habits by herself. I discussed
    this with her teacher and she said she will have to take her own licks.
    Unfortunately, this is proving to be a failing report card.

    Please give me some advice. I want the best education and success for my


    • It’s obvious that you want the best education for your daughter. As there’s a lot going on, here are the main points that need to be addressed.

      She began with home schooling. She’s now in seventh grade in a challenging private school. She seems to have become a social butterfly and is now failing.

      Here’s my advice:

      1. Rule out any physical problems that may be causing your daughter to struggle. Have her tested to be sure she doesn’t struggle because of a learning disability or ADHD. Have her hearing and vision checked. Many children struggle because they need glasses or they don’t hear all the sounds.

      2. She may be in the wrong school. The curriculum in this private school may be too high a level or the instruction may be moving at too fast a pace for her. You may need to find a school that better matches her needs.”

      3. She may need help to develop good work habits and good study skills. Most seventh-graders need help in these two areas because they’re just beginning to learn how to study and how to organize their time and manage the piles of papers.

      4. It’s not uncommon for kids her age to begin to reject parents help. They’re trying to separate and, since there are no instruction manuals on this, they haven’t figured out how to do that seamlessly. They want to do things, including their homework, by themselves, and this is really how it should be.

      However, if she’s failing everything, she may be unable to succeed without help. Help can come from many sources besides you. They include: teachers who offer after school help, an older teenager who can help her with her homework after school, or a private tutor.

      5. You may consider talking to a qualified professional to see if you may need help with your relationship. This includes a counselor, psychologist or social worker at the school or other professional outside the school.

      6. As far as her socializing, that’s also common for this age, but she may be socializing too much. Here are a few possible reasons. She might be socializing to avoid doing the work. She might be unable to do the work and is too embarrassed to let anyone know. She may be unable to adjust to her new freedom because she’s like a bird who escaped from its cage, excited about her new social connections and happy to be with her new friends.

      All these issues need to be explored and addressed. After doing that, if things don’t improve, allowing her to fail and have to deal with the consequences may be the way to go. However, doing so without first dealing with the possible causal issues mentioned above is a mistake that may have long lasting consequences.

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