By: Catherine Abrahamson
How do I know if my child has a learning disability/disorder?
A psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluation can help determine whether your child meets diagnostic and educational eligibility criteria for a learning disability/disorder.
This evaluation would include the use of multiple evidence-based measures completed by multiple raters (e.g., child, parent, teacher) to determine whether your child meets the criteria. The evaluation can also rule out whether there are other factors, including mental health or developmental conditions, that are contributing to the learning challenges.
The evaluation should be conducted by a qualified professional, typically a licensed psychologist. In public schools, these evaluations are often completed by a school psychologist, licensed specialist in school psychology, or educational diagnostician.
What can I do to help my child?
1.Communicate–Talk with your child about learning. Try to find out what your child likes about school, what favorite subjects, and what is frustrating. Additional questions to consider: Do you like the subject? Do you understand the assignments? Do you understand the expectations of the teacher? Do you feel you can do the assignments? Do you feel you have enough time to complete it? Do you know how to get help in class if needed?
2.Collaborate–Reach out to your child’s instructors about your child’s performance. Identify your child’s strengths as well as his/her weaknesses. Topics to discuss can include curriculum, amount of time for instruction, the format of learning (e.g., whole class instruction vs. independent work), how progress is monitored and assessed, child’s specific skill needs, interventions used, academic supports available (e.g., tutoring), and any behavioral or emotional concerns.
3.Consult–Discuss your concerns with professionals, including your child’s pediatrician. Your physician can help determine if there are medical factors impacting your child’s learning. You can also consult with other school personnel (e.g., academic specialist) or a mental health specialist who specializes in the identification and treatment of learningdifficulties.
4.Connect–Caregivers and children often find it helpful to connect with organizations that are working to raise awareness and provide support to children struggling with learning. Below are some resources that can help:
National Center for Learning Disabilities
Learning Disabilities Association of America
American Psychiatric Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention