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How do I know if my child has a learning disability?

| Jul 8, 2021 | Special Education Law |

The signs that a child might have a learning disability are not always obvious. Poor performance in school or poor grades are not always an indicator that children are struggling with learning differences and challenges.

California parents – and students – should be aware of the many signs of a learning disability, so children can obtain the education assistance they need to help them succeed.

Three less common signs of learning disabilities

Sources list ow performance in school, difficulty reading, trouble staying organized, and missing certain milestones as some of the most common early signs of learning disabilities. These challenges are common, especially in children who have ADHD or dyslexia.

However, there are other, often more subtle, signs that parents should be aware of as well, including:

  • Difficulty following directions: Whether they are listening to verbal instructions or reading the directions on a worksheet, students with learning disabilities might have difficulty comprehending and following the directions given, even right after hearing or reading them.
  • Lack of coordination: If children have trouble mastering motor skills and keeping their balance, it might be a sign of dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder (DCD). This can often result in difficulty writing, understanding shapes, and processing the steps of regular physical routines. This condition often appears alongside other learning disabilities.
  • Acting out: This sign is common. If children act out at school or while doing homework, it is often a sign of frustration. Younger children may not have the ability to communicate the struggles they face in school, which can make them feel even more frustrated.

Parents should be mindful of these easily misunderstood or hidden signs of learning disabilities. However, it is important to note that learning disabilities do not affect a child’s intelligence; children facing these challenges simply need different tools to reach their full potential.

Should parents obtain a diagnosis?

Getting an official diagnosis from a professional can be helpful. Obtaining a diagnosis may help parents understand their child’s needs better, and in turn, become a better advocate for their child. An official diagnosis can also help children better understand themselves and feel more confident.

However, there are two things to note:

  1. An official diagnosis alone does not necessarily qualify a child for an individualized education plan (IEP).
  2. Parents can still request an evaluation from the school to see if their child qualifies for an IEP without an official diagnosis.

Even so, getting a diagnosis can often be beneficial for the family, and help them determine how to move forward to help their children succeed.