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Last Updated: 02/01/2018

 Article of Interest - Learning Disability (LD)

LD and Your Child: An Age-by-Age Guide
by Bethann McGaffigan for Family Education Network

Visit the Family Education Network <> for more articles like this and for information on teaching and learning for families and educators.
For more articles on disabilities and special ed visit

The Early Years

"Although my son walked at the appropriate age and reached other milestones at the right time, I felt that something was not quite right," says Yvette Moran, parent. "His social skills were lacking around other kids. We observed him carefully for a period of time and at age two and a half he was diagnosed with a learning disability." No one knows your child like you do. Trust your instincts and observations. If something "just seems wrong" and your child displays several of the following problems consistently, you might want to consider the existence of a learning disability.

Problems with following routines or directions
Fine motor skills slow to develop
Difficulty rhyming words
Speaks later than peers
Problems with pronunciation
Problems with vocabulary, trouble finding the right word
Extremely restless and distracted easily
Trouble with social skills
Trouble learning colors, shapes, days of week, numbers, alphabet
A full evaluation by trained professionals is the next step in helping your child. Your pediatrician can refer you to a number of specialists trained in the area of difficulty. Working with a team of professionals and joining with other parents can provide your family with a valuable support system.

The Elementary Years

"When my son started kindergarten I noticed that he had problems with coordination when performing simple tasks such as tying his shoes or combing his hair," says Carol McGaffigan. "We worked consistently with him for many years. The hard work paid off with some terrific dividends. Our son developed a photographic memory that amazed his teachers." Coordination problems can be a warning sign of a learning disability. If your child exhibits several of the following characteristics over a long period of time, you might want to have her tested.

Unstable pencil grip
Trouble learning about time
Difficulty remembering facts
Confuses basic words (dog, cat, run)
Difficulty learning new skills, relying on memorization
Poor coordination, "accident prone", unaware of physical surroundings
Difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds
Spelling and reading errors such as substitutions (house/home), letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w) and transpositions (felt/left).
Problems with planning, impulsive
Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (x,/,=/+/-)
Speak with your child's teacher and arrange for a comprehensive evaluation of your child's difficulties. This will enable you and a group of professionals to correctly assess areas of strengths and weaknesses, and thus decide upon the best course of action to help your child. Offering constant support to your child is your best strategy.

The Middle Years

"When a child is dealing with the difficulties of a learning disability and has not been diagnosed, he or she may feel dumb or worthless," says Dr. Matthew Brewer, pediatrician. "This frustration can lead the child to destructive behaviors such as violence or drug abuse." Students with LD must be reassured that they are bright people who are only having problems because their minds process information differently. If you notice any of the following characteristics in your middle school student talk to your child and contact a professional as soon as possible.

Trouble recalling facts
Problems making friends
Difficulty with word problems
Avoids reading aloud
Reverses letter sequences (soiled/solid, left/felt)
Tight or awkward pencil grip
Difficulty understanding facial expressions or body language
Problems with handwriting
Problems with learning prefixes, suffixes, root words and other spelling strategies
Avoids writing assignments
Before you can solve your child's problems you need to know what you are dealing with. Contact your school and arrange for a complete evaluation. You will be referred to professionals who specialize in your child's area of difficulty. Working with professionals and offering constant support is your best strategy to help your child.

The High School Years

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