HKQ Kids

Recognizing Learning Disabilities

Now that school has started back up, kids are back to spending a lot more time in the classroom. Some kids, however, might have a difficult time sitting still or paying attention. Others may be a bit behind their peers when it comes to reading or writing. These are all potential signs of learning disabilities, which are more common than you might think; about 8 to 10% of kids under 18 are affected by one of several different types of learning disabilities. Recognizing signs and symptoms early can be crucial in getting your child the help he or she needs to succeed in school. A learning disability will make it more difficult for your child to process and retain information, but it doesn’t make it impossible for them to counteract it. Here’s some information on the more common learning disabilities and what signs you should look out for:

First and foremost, the best way to get ahead of any potential learning disabilities in your child is to keep tabs on how they’re performing in school. If you suspect that your child may be having difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out to their teacher. Keep in mind, however, that before the age of 6, it’s difficult for a proper diagnosis to be performed.

Types of Learning Disabilities

The most common and well-known learning disability is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). You may still hear the term ADD being used to describe those who have difficulty paying attention but lack the symptoms of hyperactivity or excess energy. This is also referred to as “inattentive type ADHD.” Signs of ADHD include forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention during activities or conversations, problems staying organized, missing details, and excessive talking or movement. Keep in mind that bursts of hyperactivity or “off days” do not necessarily mean your child is experiencing ADHD; it should be more of a cause for concern if the symptoms carry on continually for 6+ months and are issues that affect your child’s life both in school and at home.

Another common form of learning disability is dyslexia, which affects a person’s ability to read; letters and numbers may appear jumbled around, or certain letters may be swapped with others. This may occur as a child is learning to read or write, and can be outgrown; however, if it persists beyond the age of about 7, that may mean your child is experiencing dyslexia. In addition, sometimes dyslexia goes hand in hand with dysgraphia, which affects a person’s writing ability. This can take shape in the form of inconsistent handwriting, a slowness to write or copy things, an unusual position while writing, and noticeably poor spelling. Also related is the disability known as dyscalculia, which affects a person’s ability to do math: counting, recognizing and differentiating numbers, etc.

Other, more general forms of learning disabilities include auditory and visual processing disorders. These issues are related to how the brain processes information being given either audibly or visually and are unrelated to hearing or vision problems. Signs can include difficulty following directions, trouble with recall, and hand-eye coordination issues.

Diagnosing & Treating Learning Disabilities

If you suspect your child may have a learning disability, the first step is to get a proper diagnosis. It may take a few visits to different professionals to get a conclusive diagnosis; start by talking to your child’s teacher and pediatrician. The next route of action will depend on the diagnosis and the advice of the professionals you speak with. However, in general, being proactive and having an involved role in your child’s learning is a good idea regardless of what type of learning disability they may have. As with every child, making sure your kids are partaking in healthy habits-- getting enough sleep and eating right --can only help them in the classroom and in completing assignments at home. Be sure to look into any assistive services offered by your child’s school that can help you and your child individualize how they’re getting their education in a way that is conscious of their learning issues. And finally, children with learning disabilities have an increased likelihood of self-esteem issues; it’s important that you keep an eye on your child’s mood and reassure them that their disability is not their fault, nor should they feel lesser than anyone because of it. Everybody learns differently.

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