Inability – or difficulty – in reading and writing… is it just a phase? Or is there a serious problem?
With all the hype about learning disabilities, parents these days tend to panic when their child is unable to learn to write the alphabet or draw shapes. They wonder whether it is just a phase or is it some sort of learning disability (LD). Here are some tips on what you should do in such situations.
As a mother or father, it is natural for you to be concerned about your child. This concern is sometimes over the top – which is fine. Before you take steps to evaluate your child however, it would be wise to observe him yourself. Take a deep calming breath and ask yourself some pertinent questions.
- Is your child unable complete most of his tasks?
- Are you comparing your child to other kids?
- Are your expectations too high?
- Even if you are comparing, is your child worse off than all kids in his grade?
- Is the problem limited to school work or does it affect other activities too?
- Are there too many distractions at home?
If you answered no to most of these questions then you don’t need to worry. You can check again in a year or so. If however your answer was yes to most of them then there may be cause for concern.
If you suspect that your child has LD, there are some simple steps you can take at home. The first is to remove all distractions. When your child sits down to study, remove all distractions such as phones, toys and anything else. Sit your kid down in a quiet well-lit and well ventilated room. Sit down with him and gently prod him to complete his work. Remember! The operative word here is gently. Never force him.
Talk to the school teacher. Find out if your kid’s behavior is starkly contrasting with that of other kids. Is he distracted, day dreaming, inattentive, unusually active in class?
If the teacher confirms your fears and despite all attempts, your child still faces difficulty then it’s time to consult a professional.
Preparing for a Consult
When you contact a professional, he or she will ask you several questions about your child. These questions will include those listed above and several others such as how does he behave in certain situations. Do certain situations bring out specific behavior? The professional will also want to see your child’s school books and reports. S/he will want to know what the school teacher has to say.
He or she will ask about any medical conditions and want to see the reports of any tests done. She will also ask about the medical and growth history of the child from birth till date.
Go prepared with all this information so that you can get the maximum done in the first consult. Of course there will be many more questions depending on the issues your child faces; but this covers the basics.
Diagnosis is done by a formal standardized test which measures the gap between the child’s IQ and performance. The tests are designed to quantify the performance and potential of the child. Based on the test scores, professionals determine whether or not the child has a learning disability. Tests are usually performed with children 10 years or older. However, an experienced professional can give you a good idea as to whether your child has a learning disability or not even without a test. Therefore it would be wise to consult a professional at least once even if your child is younger than 10.
If the professional confirms that your child does have LD, you would be well advised to seek intervention immediately. Learning disability is, for the most part a neurological disorder which cannot be “cured”. Rather than cure the better term is intervention which means teaching your child to deal with his or her difficulty. Children are quick at learning new skills and as such they can be taught to correct themselves. A remedial teacher will help the child by identifying the areas of difficulty and showing the child how he or she can overcome the difficulty faced.
This is one question that almost all parents ask. The reason is that the professional is better qualified and experienced at understanding and dealing with the problem. As an experienced remedial teacher or psychologist, he or she has a better understanding of the condition. Also the relationship of the child with a parent is different from that with a professional. Just as you send your child to school or tuition to study despite the fact that you yourself are educated and can teach the child yourself, similarly you must take your child to the professional for intervention with respect to learning disabilities. Self-treatment is bad in all respects and this holds true for learning disabilities too!
So if you suspect that your child has LD, take action now!