What Do I Do if I Suspect My Child Has a Learning Disability?

As a parent, you know when something just doesn’t feel right when it comes to your children. All too often, however, we suppress that feeling because we either don’t trust that we know to be true or we simply don’t want to believe it could be.

I know I had that little nagging pull that something wasn’t quite right when my son was only two years old. At the time, I leaned heavily on the professionals around me to justify my concerns. Unfortunately, the professionals I turned to were as dismayed as I was. One even suggested that I was doing something wrong. I knew, however, that I was a conscientious mom and had already been successful in raising my then 4-year old daughter, so my gut told me that wasn’t me.

Very early on, I noticed that my son was delayed in reaching his milestones by at least 2 months and by two years old, he wasn’t yet talking. He also had frequent ear infections and ended up having tubes put in his ears just after his 2nd birthday. By early kindergarten, it was apparent that he still wasn’t able to consistently identify his letters or associate the symbols with the sounds.

As I watched my son grow older, I saw signs that I now know were signs that might suggest the presence of a learning disability… or as I like to call it… a “teaching” disability. I truly believe that children with dyslexia don’t have a disability at all. They simply learn differently and need to be taught in a way that makes sense to them. It is the teaching community that is disabled because they haven’t received the proper training to be able to identify and help these children.

I now know that my gut was right and I am so grateful that I listened to that little voice inside. The symptoms I mentioned above are often dismissed as “developmental delays”, but since they can also be early signs of a learning disability, you should consult with your pediatrician, a teacher or your child’s principal if you are seeing any of these signs in your own child. Describe what you are observing and consider having your child tested.

Below are some of the other signs to be aware of. Whatever you do, don’t wait if your gut is telling you that something isn’t right. Time is so precious and with early intervention, dyslexia CAN be remediated.

Early Signs — 0-3 years:

  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Delayed speech
  • Delayed milestones

Early Signs — Preschool:

  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Trouble learning numbers, the alphabet, days of the week or months of the year
  • Difficulty following directions and/or routines
  • Restlessness or distractibility
  • Trouble interacting with other children
  • Challenges with word pronunciation
  • Confuse their words – (ie. “paschetti” for “spaghetti” or “aminal” for “animal”)
  • Cannot sequence properly – have trouble placing the alphabet or their numbers in the correct order
  • Cannot ride a bike or tie their shoes
  • Switches back and forth between hands when coloring. Or, uses one hand for some activities and the other hand for other activities

Early Signs — Kindergarten through Fourth Grade:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Trouble associating letter symbols with their sounds
  • Difficulty holding a pencil
  • Messy handwriting
  • Disorganization
  • Consistent reading and spelling challenges
  • Poor coordination
  • Transposed letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Unstable pencil grip
  • Trouble learning time and money