Learning Disabilities in Children

By: Laura Wilson ELI - MP

Does your kid have learning disabilities?  "Yes." you say?  My name is Laura Wilson.  I'm a life coach for parents with kids just like yours. I specialize in this area because I am a parent of two kids who face this challenge. My journey has been bumpy and sometimes just plain difficult. As a life coach who helps parents with kids who have difficulty learning, I can coach you to a place of less stress and more peace in the home and in the classroom.

In the following article, I am addressing parents of kids who have not yet been tested, but are wondering if their child may have a learning disability. As a life coach for parents of kids with learning disabilities, I hope this article will help direct you to find the help and guidance you may need.

My first thought in recognizing a learning disability in a preschooler is, “How would a parent know a particular action was not on course with their age-appropriate development?”

After all, most preschoolers learn kinesthetically:  moving, exploring, tasting and talking. Learning how the world works is something youngsters are programed to do. How they do it is universal.

But what tips a parent’s attention to a youngster’s out-of-synch behavior?  How high does the red flag wave before a parent decides what they’re seeing isn’t ‘normal’?  Are there distinct signs for learning disabilities? And what exactly are the causes of learning disabilities?

Reading books on raising your child, consulting your pediatrician, and talking to other parents are great ways to gauge where our children should be on the learning scale. But sometimes our gut feeling is enough for us to know that something is wrong and that we need to investigate further.

Sometimes the doctor nods with an answer - “It’s normal,” or “He’ll grow out of it.”  Those answers don’t placate as intended, however, so we dig further into our reading.  We seek out parents of kids with learning issues, quizzing them on how and when they knew something just wasn’t right with their child.

What one parent may label ‘just being a kid’, may be a challenging behavior that you know is not in synch with other children their age. And what seems normal to an outsider may be out of line to a parent who knows their child intimately.

 If you have reached this point in your child’s young life, I urge you to continue reading resources on this topic. I encourage you to have your child’s hearing and vision tested in depth.  (Continuous ear infections may impair a child’s hearing, for example.)

A language-based learning disability can be your first urge to raise a red flag.  Perhaps the information is going in, but it isn’t being processed properly.  Early learning disabilities that are language related help you better narrow the field to identify how you can find the best help for them.

If the vision and hearing tests come back normal, but your gut feeling is telling you not to stop, then consider finding a good psycho-educational psychologist.  You can consult your child’s elementary school for a list of options.

Tests can sometimes cost up to $3,000. Do your research, find out if/how much your insurance will cover.  Getting an appointment with the psychologist can take months. Putting away any extra income to help cover the cost of the test today may lessen the financial blow later.

Once you have chosen a psycho-educational psychologist, ask if they test working memory and executive functioning.

Working memory is, “…. your ability to keep a bunch of facts in your head at the same time…it’s about remembering everything you’re supposed to pick up at the supermarket.” (ref 1)

Executive functioning is, “… the ability to deal with confusing and unpredictable situations and information.” (ref 2)

For school age kids, asking for an individualized education plan, or IEP, will help you and your child navigate school with (some) allowances in each subject. For example, some kids are given extra time to complete tests. Others may have the option of using a tutor.

The journey of discovering how you can help your child, once they’ve been diagnosed with a learning disability, can be labor intensive, costly, and time consuming. But having a psyco-educational professional diagnose your child and direct you to where and how to get help can make the difference between a frustrated child and parents, and a more peaceful and encouraging outlook.

Stick to your gut feelings. It can make a world of difference for the whole family.

Laura Wilson ELI - MP

Ref 1 -  ‘working memory’: by Paul Tough, “How Children Succeed” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2012)  page 19

Ref 2 - 'executive functioning'  Ibid, page 18

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