The Learning Disabilities Association of America believes that there are about 2.4 million students who have a learning disability today. Of these students, approximately 41% are receiving special education services. These services are meant to support students who have a wide array of disabilities such as dyslexia (difficulties related to reading and language processing), auditory processing disorder (difficulties processing other’s speech), dysgraphia (difficulties with writing), and dyscalculia (difficulties understanding numbers and math facts).
How Learning Disabilities are Identified
In order for a student to be diagnosed with a learning disability, information must be gathered from a variety of sources (e.g. parents, teachers). A child must also usually be assessed by a licensed psychologist (doctoral provider in psychology with specialized training in this area) in regard to their academic functioning and skills. In doing so, it may be discovered that a child has difficulty in numerous areas including:
● Following directions
● Learning routines
● Connecting letters with sounds
● Learning new skills within a set amount of time
● Learning numbers, colors, shapes, basic math concepts
● Learning the alphabet, root words, prefixes, suffixes, spelling, or days of the week
● Completing or following through on assignments
How to Help Your Child Cope with a Learning Disability
While learning disabilities aren’t curable, early intervention is beneficial in helping children adapt to their differences and find strategies so they can accomplish academic goals. There are also many strategies and environmental supports that schools can use to help.
Working With a Teacher or Tutor
Some students benefit from working with a specially trained teacher for a few hours each week. These tutors or teachers can help children navigate their learning disability and develop what are called compensatory strategies. Individualized tutoring programs can prove to enhance skill development over time through rehearsal, new skill acquisition, and self-efficacy development.
Creating an Individualized Education Program (a.k.a. IEP)
For those with identified Learning Disabilities, an IEP outlines a student’s specific academic, cognitive, and behavioral strengths and weaknesses. It also includes a plan for learning activities that will help your child succeed in school. For instance, it may indicate that your child should spend some time in a particular classroom with intensive interventions. It may also include the use of technological tools to aid in learning.
Administering Prescription Medication
For some mental health concerns (e.g., ADHD), a physician or psychiatrist may prescribe medications to help improve academic functioning. These medications can improve attention span or focus. They can also help students be less hyperactive so they can maintain impulse control. However, medication-based interventions are always more beneficial when paired with therapy and other behavioral interventions.
Advocating for Your Child
As the parent of a child with learning disabilities, advocacy is key. Providing emotional and other forms of support to your child or teen is also imperative. At times, although difficult, you may need to proactively seek resources and support on behalf of your child.
Although learning disabilities are challenging for families, Interface Consulting and Psychological Services in Tampa Bay, FL is here to help you. We’ll work with you as you navigate the school system so that your child has what they need to succeed.
Your chances of knowing someone with learning disabilities are very good. Did you know? Learning Disabilities Association of America https://ldaamerica.org/support/new-to-ld/
Waterman, Betsy B. (1994). Assessing Children for the Presence of a Disability. http://www.ldonline.org/article/6017/
Teens Health from Nemour. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/?search=y&q=learning-disabilities&datasource=kidshealth§ion=parents_teens_kids&lang=english&start=0&rows=10#
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