Consider the bright little boy who started first grade expecting
to learn to read, but he didn’t. He couldn’t.
He has one kind of learning disability. His problem is dyslexia
(difficulty learning to read), which can damage his performance
in every other academic area. Fortunately, there is help.
He can reach his potential if his problem is understood early
and his educational program is individualized to accommodate
his unique needs.
Through no fault of his own, a child like this has a disability.
He needs special help, but because his disability cannot be
seen, he often does not receive assistance. He wants to understand
and tries to, but he fails. He cannot solve his perplexing
problem — that takes informed parents and trained professionals.
It is urgent to get the needed help before the child gives
Once the problem has been identified and appropriate interventions
are implemented, the child can begin to help himself, to rebuild
his fading self-esteem.
Parents Should Be Alert
From infancy, parents should be checking their child’s
progress against the norms of his age group, using any good
reference on child development. If there are continuing deviations,
they should discuss them with a trusted professional. Most
school districts have pre-primary evaluation and special education
programs, if needed.
Learning disabilities should be considered as a possible
cause if a child has difficulty with one or more of the following:
| • thinking clearly
• remembering facts
• learning to read
• learning to
• putting things in sequence
||• writing legibly
• spelling accurately
• following directions
• copying forms/shapes
• paying attention
Children with learning disabilities are often clumsy, impulsive,
hyperactive or disoriented. They may become frustrated and
rebellious, depressed, withdrawn or aggressive.
Baffled by their children’s problems, parents seek
advice, but often in the wrong places. Even if they have reared
other children who were academically successful and even if
they are convinced that they, as parents, are experts in knowing
their own children, self-confidence often vanishes. They feel
helpless as they suffer along with their special child. The
frustration felt by the parent and child may cause significant
loss of self-esteem as years go by.
What Schools Provide and How to Get Involved
Public schools are required by law to provide persons with
learning disabilities a free appropriate education and to
include parents in the planning. Programs and services for
persons with learning disabilities are mandated through high
school age and beyond. School systems are to work in compliance
with the law. Qualified professionals should be dedicated
to careful diagnosis and quality intervention.
What Parents Can Do
- Become informed.
- Become involved in your child’s school
program. Meet with the classroom teacher and request a student
study team meeting. Write a letter to the school principal
stating that your child may have a specific learning disability
(SLD), and request a comprehensive evaluation, to be followed
by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. Keep
copies of all correspondence with the school and a record
of the dates and contents of all telephone conversations.
You legally have access to your child’s file at the
school and may request copies of his/her records.
- Contact a local LDA council or the LDAT
state office for information on specific learning disabilities.
- Pinpoint the problem. Arrange for a thorough
physical evaluation, including vision and hearing. Consider
the need for assessment of receptive and/or expressive language
problems and visual perception difficulties.
- Explain to your child honestly about learning
disabilities in language that the child can understand.
Don’t over-use the label. Emphasize areas of strength
and areas where special help may be needed. Help your child
understand that he or she has more similarities than differences
with other children. Talk about famous people with learning
disabilities. Encourage feedback, but allow the child to
set the pace.
Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities