Concerned that your child’s slipping grades or slow to grasp concepts may be eluding to a Learning Disability? If so you are among a litany of parents across the United States with the same fear. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) “there are 4 to 6 % of students classified as having a Learning Disability” (Learning Disabilities, n.d.).
A Learning Disability (LD) is not a reflection of your child’s potential. It is however, a signal to let you know that your child processes information and learns information different from others. There are many different areas in which a Learning Disability can be prevalent: Math (Dyscalculia), Reading/Language Arts (Dyslexia), Writing (Dysgraphia), Auditory and Visual Processing. Each of these areas can be targeted in order to provide the appropriate and effective method of instruction to help the child overcome the deficit areas.
Signs of a Specific Learning Disability
There are some signs that your child may be dealing with a learning disability. If you see any of the following signs you have the right as a parent to ask your child’s school to provide educational and psychological testing in order to determine if there is a learning disability and if so in what areas.
- Easily frustrated when doing work(may cry easily)
- Appearance of lack of focus when reviewing material or when doing homework
- Difficulty with memorization
- Difficulty grasping concepts in math
- Difficulty with being able to make inferences when reading
If your child is diagnosed with a learning disability, work with the school to establish a safe learning environment that is structured and enriched.
What Parents Can Do To Help Their Child
The best thing a parent can do for a child with a learning disability is become educated on strategies to use when helping the child with homework, using encouraging words and rewards when progress is made, and advocate for the schools to provide what is needed to make the student successful in the classroom. Also, educate your self about learning disabilities and the legal forms that school will be using to created the academic plan for success for your child. These forms are called Individualized Education Programs (IEP). From there, learn your rights and the rights of your child in regards to modifications and accommodations for their work assignments and tests (including Standardized Test, ie. End of Grade and End of Course).
Strategies Parents Can Use with Their Child
Parents, you can work with the teachers in your child’s school and make sure that you are both modeling and presenting materials in the same format. You can also help your child by:
- helping them study every night by using flashcards
- sheer color coded overlays (pink works very well) when helping with reading/language arts
- utilizing everyday activities as teachable moments, etc.
There are many structured things you can do to help your child close this gap academically.
What Schools Can Do To Help the Student Being Left Behind
The best thing schools can do to help the struggling student is to start using informal classroom assessments to measure material presented in short intervals of time (every 2-3 weeks). The data collected from this can be used in order to justify holding a meeting to discuss how to help the student be successful academically. Next, the schools can work with the parents to hold an official meeting where the concerns of a learning disability may be the catalyst of the student’s low grades and partially completed assignments. Once the schools and parents meet testing can be discussed. This is the first step to getting all the help that your child will need for their academic careers from elementary school to college. Remember being diagnosed with a learning disability is not a death sentence it is an opportunity to help those around you think outside the box.
Learning Disabilities Association (n.d.). Understanding Learning Disabilities. Retrieved on November 10, 2009 from www.ldanatl.org
Bionote: Lisa Melton Basnight is currently completing her dissertation. She has over 11 years experience in education and has owned a nonprofit organization that serviced at risk students in the city of Durham, NC.