Learning Disabilities in Children: An Overview
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By Jan Baumel, M.S.
If you suspect that your child may have LD, consult with her teacher and other school staff to decide next steps. A pre-referral support team may be one option.
Remember that the public school is obligated to assess children to see if they have disabilities and need special education services to benefit from their general education program. This is true whether they attend a public or private school. The public school is not legally required to provide a diagnosis, give parents more information for tutors, or qualify children for extra time on college entrance exams.
Under law, LD must be identified by a group of professionals from different fields, a multidisciplinary team, who has assessed your child. While public schools must consider reports you obtained privately, they have the right to assess your child before making any decisions.
Following assessment, the public school team will meet with you to discuss the results and decide if your child is eligible for special education services at the public school. Whether or not she's eligible, evaluation results can be used to plan her educational program, help her understand her learning disabilities, and find ways to be successful.
What Can You Do?
With the right support and interventions, your child can succeed in school and become a successful adult. You can help her in the following ways:
- Speak with her openly and acknowledge her learning difficulties.
- Remind her that she is intelligent but has a different way of learning.
- Identify her strengths and talents, and encourage her to develop them.
- Coach her on strategies that will help her through her learning challenges.
- Support her efforts to succeed.
- Be available to help her with homework.
- Be a role model - read a book or newspaper or write a letter while she studies.
- Set realistic goals and expectations.
- Work collaboratively with school staff.
- Understand the educational system.
- Listen to your child when she wants to talk.
- Teach her to understand her own needs and advocate for them.
- Appreciate her for her uniqueness, special qualities, and contributions.