Does Your Child Have LD?
In preschoolers, look for:
- Slow language development, difficulty with speech, poor understanding of what is being said.
- Poor coordination and uneven motor development, such as delays in learning to sit, walk, color, use scissors. Later, watch for difficulty forming letters and numbers.
- Problems with memory, routines, and multiple instructions.
- Delays in socialization, including playing with and interacting with children.
In early elementary school, look for:
- Problems with rapid letter recognition and with learning phonemes; difficulty blending sounds and letters to pronounce words.
- Problems remembering familiar words by sight. By late second or early third grade, difficulty with reading comprehension.
- Problems writing letters and numbers. Later, problems with spelling and grammar.
- Difficulties in learning math skills and doing math calculations.
- Difficulty remembering facts.
- Difficulty organizing materials (notebooks, binders, papers), information, and/or concepts.
- Losing or forgetting materials, or doing work and forgetting to turn it in.
- Not understanding oral instructions; difficulty expressing oneself verbally.
In later elementary school, look for:
- Difficulty reading material independently and retaining what was read, as well as organizing thoughts for written work.
- Difficulty learning new math concepts and successfully applying them.
- Increasing difficulty organizing school and personal materials.
In middle school, look for:
- Increased difficulty retaining what was read (reading fluency), organizing and writing answers and doing reports, and mastering advanced math concepts.
- Increased difficulty with organization, and with developing learning strategies.
Game Plan for Managing LD
As a first step, discuss your concerns with the teacher. If she agrees, most public schools will do a three-tier evaluation of your child. First, the teacher observes him and tries different approaches to help. Second, if there is no improvement, the teacher consults a special education teacher. Modified teaching strategies or materials might be tried. If these do not help, a formal evaluation for LD is done.
If your child's teacher does not respond to your concerns, speak with the principal. (Note: You are still entitled to help if your child attends a private school.) The principal should set up a meeting of school professionals to discuss your concerns. Ideally, this group will agree to observe your child in class, and suggest an evaluation. This evaluation might consist of observations and possible interventions. If none of these are successful, psycho-educational tests should be done.
You might choose a private professional to do a psycho-educational evaluation. If the results confirm your suspicions, he or she should go to your school and ask that these findings be dealt with.
If your child tests positive for LD, it is important to remediate the problems. Appropriate accommodations may be needed in the classroom. My best advice for parents—and the child—is always the sooner, the better.