Learning disabilities are thankfully becoming increasingly understood, removing the stigma and scorn associated with such conditions. This is timely, as according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one in five American children is now living with some kind of learning disorder.
This guide will help parents and guardians identify a potential learning disability in children and take the appropriate action. Upon diagnosis, it will become increasingly clear what learning disorder is impacting a child – and what action can be taken to provide the young person with a superior quality of life.
Types of Learning Disabilities
As education and understanding of learning disabilities continue to expand, more and more specific disorders are becoming recognized. However, Masters in Special Education list five of the most common learning disabilities.
You will find these below, along with resources that will provide you with further reading.
- Dyslexia (difficulty in reading and spelling)
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, aka ADHD (trouble concentrating)
- Dyscalculia (difficulty comprehending math problems)
- Dysgraphia (trouble with writing – either due to motor function or inability to express thoughts on the page)
- Processing Deficits (difficulty processing sensory data, potentially due to vision or hearing difficulties or linked to other learning disorders)
Not every child that displays unusual behavior has a learning disorder. Children develop at a range of different ages and rates, after all. However, if you suspect that your child may have learning disabilities, it will help to know what to look out for.
Does My Child Have a Learning Disability?
If you recognize any of the behaviors listed above, your child may be attempting to manage a learning disability. Before you rush to self-diagnosis, however, learn some more of the potential signs.
- Mayo Clinic and WebMD discuss the signs of learning disabilities and disorders in children, helping you keep an eye out for any warnings.
- HelpGuide discusses some of the behaviors and actions typical in children with learning disabilities. If you’re looking for a more formal resource, try the CDC
- The Child Mind Institute has a behavioral symptom checker that can act as a helpful first step to identifying a potential learning disorder
If you suspect that your child does have a learning disability, seek the consultation of a healthcare professional to obtain a formal diagnosis.
Seeking Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities
The internet can be a great resource of information, but a formal diagnosis of a learning disability in children must come from a licensed healthcare professional.
If you are going to seek financial assistance to aid with the expenses of caring for a child with a learning disability, Google results will not be accepted as evidence.
- The American Psychiatric Association discusses the formal definition of a specific learning disorder
- Healthy Children explains when you should consider seeking out a specialist opinion about a potential learning disability in your child
- LD Online discusses who is entitled to officially diagnose a learning disability in children
- The National Institute of Health and the Learning Disabilities Association of America explain how these tests will be undertaken, and what conclusions can be drawn from the results
Seek the advice of your family doctor in the first instance if you suspect that your child has a learning disability. You will likely then be referred to a specialist, who will make a formal diagnosis.
Homeschooling Children with Learning Disabilities
School can be tough for anybody, but for a child with learning disabilities, it is a particularly challenging time. The mainstream education system is often ill-equipped to meet the needs of children with specific learning needs.
This can be extremely frustrating for all parties. As a result, you may wish to consider homeschooling your child. With these resources, you can ensure that your child gets the education they need and deserve.
- Understood explains the legal process of withdrawing a child with special education needs from mainstream education and beginning a homeschooling journey
- The Home School Legal Defense Association provides a wide array of resources about homeschooling children with learning disabilities
- Homeschooling offers a self-proclaimed ultimate guide to homeschooling children with special educational needs, as does Education Corner
- Time4Learning boasts a full curriculum designed with children with learning disabilities
- The 74 Million offers a similar guide to the needs of homeschooled children with learning disabilities, penned by a former pediatric nurse and mother of a daughter with special needs
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development argues that children with learning disabilities flourish more in a separate educational environment from their peers. This makes homeschooling a highly recommended course of action for any child growing frustrated or unhappy in a mainstream schooling set-up.
Help and Advice for Managing Children with Learning Disabilities
If your child has a learning disorder, you will need to adjust your parenting and educational techniques accordingly. You will likely need to display more patience than you were expecting, and empathy will certainly be critical.
To avoid frustration boiling over and potentially damaging your confidence in yourself as a caregiver, and your child’s self-assurance in their abilities, investigate these helpful resources of information and support.
- Washington University Physicians discusses 11 things that parents can do to aid children with learning disabilities
- The Children’s Health Council provides an exhaustive supply of materials and background reading on a wide array of learning disorders, and how to help children manage them
- The Churchill Center and Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities explain how you can explain your child’s learning disorder to them, ensuring they do not grow disheartened by challenges
- The Child Mind Institute explains how you can meet the emotional needs of children with learning disabilities
Raising children with learning disabilities may require a slightly different approach, but ultimately your responsibility remains the same – to prepare them for the world outside the protective bubble of childhood. These resources will help you do so in an appropriate manner.
Financial Assistance for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities
Caring for children with learning disabilities can have a significant impact on parents. This can include an increased financial burden.
Caring for children with special education needs may lead to parents needing to change careers, or even leave the workplace and act as full-time educators and carers. Financial assistance is available in these instances.
- Check if you are eligible for SSI under the criteria of Benefits for Children with Disabilities
- Use the government’s Insure Kids Now portal to check that your insurance policy covers any treatment or medication required for learning disabilities. If not, take a look at Medicaid’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. Also, check in with the IRS – some of your expenses may be tax-deductible
- The Administration for Children and Families may be able to offer short-term aid in the form of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Snap4Kids and Special Kids Therapy offer modest grants and signpost toward free or low-cost therapies and services for children with learning disabilities
There is no shame or stigma in seeking the financial aid that you are entitled to if caring for a child with learning disabilities. Doing so will ease the burden on you as a parent or guardian, and potentially enhance the quality of life for a child.
Summary of Useful Links
We covered a lot of information in this guide. See below for a handy list of all the resources we have linked to, enabling easy bookmarking and future research.
- The 74 Million – the74million.org
- Administration for Children and Families – acf.hhs.gov
- American Psychiatric Association – psychiatry.org
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development – ascd.org
- Children’s Health Council – chconline.org
- Children’s Health Insurance Program – medicaid.gov/chip
- Education Corner – educationcorner.com
- Healthy Children – healthychildren.org
- The Home School Legal Defense Association – hslda.org
- Homeschooling – homeschooling.mom
- LD Online – ldonline.org
- Learning Disabilities Association of America – ldaamerica.org
- Masters in Special Education – masters-in-special-education.com
- National Center for Learning Disabilities – ncld.org
- National Institute of Health – nichd.nih.gov
- Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities – smartkidswithld.org
- Snap4Kids – snap4kids.org
- Special Kids Therapy – specialkidstherapy.org
- SSI Benefits – ssa.gov
- Time4Learning – time4learning.com
- Understood – understood.org
- Washington University Physicians – nfcenter.wustl.edu