Is your child struggling in school, or perhaps in one or two specific subjects or areas? While there can be many reasons for this, one reason many children fail to achieve good grades in school is the existence of an undiagnosed learning disability.
WHAT IS A LD?
Learning disabilities come in many forms and levels of severity, but typically affect a child’s ability to take in, process, store, organize, or use information. Learning disabilities are usually seen as a life-long condition–they do not go away–but many children (and adults) successfully compensate for them by using various strategies and/or technologies. It is important to note that people with learning disabilities often possess average or above average intelligence, however their academic performance is impaired resulting in lower than expected grades.
WHAT ARE SOME POSSIBLE SIGNS?
Signs of a learning disability can vary depending on the age of the child. While most children show some signs at various points of their schooling, those with learning disabilities often demonstrate a far greater number. Sign can include:
Difficulty working with words: learning the alphabet, numbers, or colours; blending sounds, or breaking words into syllables; rhyming words or recognizing spelling patterns; trouble comprehending information read.
Difficulty with shapes & space: trouble with puzzles and patterning activities, copying and letter formation, handwriting or note taking.
Difficulty with memory and attention: trouble remembering things (short term and/or long term), slow or poor recall of facts
Difficulty with organization: thoughts, materials, belongings, time, etc; has trouble maintaining friendships with peers; difficulty self-monitoring and editing
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you or your child’s teacher suspects your child may have a specific learning disability, consider speaking to your family doctor. Learning disabilities should only be diagnosed by a member of The College of Psychologists in your province or The College of Physicians and Surgeons in your province after a thorough assessment.
Once diagnosed, there are many things you can do to help support your child:
Advocate for your child. Be open with family, friends, coaches, and the school with your findings, and look for ways to help build on your child’s strengths.
Provide support. Your child may need extra help at home with school work, but more importantly, he/she may need emotional support to help deal with the frustration faced at school. Be sure to praise their efforts and help them to better understand their learning disability. Often knowing there are many other kids just like them helps.
Get support. Find friends, fellow parents, professionals, and/or organizations to act as your support network. One excellent resource is the Learning Disability Association of Ontario (www.LDAO.ca).
As well, various levels of support are also available at the school level. These might include support from a resource teacher, accommodations or modifications made by your child’s homeroom teacher, and possibly the creation of and Individual Education Plan (IEP)–a legal document to ensure your child receives the programming he/she requires to ensure his/her success.
With proper support, people with learning disabilities go on to have successful lives. Need proof? Here are just a few: Leonardo da Vinci, Tom Cruise, Magic Johnson, and Thomas Edison just to name a few.
About the author
An award-winning educator and Parenting & Youth Coach, Rob Stringer BA, BEd, CPC has spent almost two decades helping kids, teens, and adults meet with success, and live lives they LOVE! Although based outside of Toronto, Rob’s coaching practice is global with teen and adult clients around the world.
Ready to give your child a head start on success? Check out Rob’s coaching programs and workshops for parents and youth. Visit www.YouthCoachCanada.com or call 905.515.9822.