Could My Child Have an Undiagnosed Learning Disability?
Learning disabilities affect a wide range of people. They can affect reading, writing, math, language, non-verbal skills, and other abilities. Many children and adolescents who are incredibly bright are able to cope with them through elementary school, but start to have difficulties in middle school and high school when the workload and demands become much more significant. Early detection of learning disabilities is important in order to obtain the proper supports to better develop domains affected by a learning disability. Undiagnosed learning disabilities often lead to poor academic performance, low self-esteem, and other issues.
While this list is not exhaustive, here are a few items to look for that may indicate the presence of a learning issue:
1) Poor performance on tests
2) Wide range of grades in the same class
3) Large variability in grades across classes (i.e. A’s in math, C’s in English)
4) Decline in grades over subsequent academic years
5) Your child seems to be putting in significant effort, but his or her grades don’t reflect it
If you have concerns about your child struggling in school, it is important to have them evaluated by a psychologist to determine if a learning disability is present. Issues with attention (such as those caused by ADHD), depression, anxiety, and a variety of other issues can also cause academic difficulties. Thus, a thorough evaluation that looks at all of these items is important.
If it is determined that your child does have a learning disability, he or she may be eligible to receive certain accommodations in school to assist with this through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan. Items may include extended time on tests, being allowed to take tests in a separate room away from distractions, note-taking services, use of a computer in class, and a variety of other items depending on your child’s specific needs. In addition to these items, tutoring and other outside resources may be recommended by the psychologist who completes the evaluation.
Unfortunately, learning issues often get worse without intervention as the workload and demands increase. Undiagnosed/untreated learning issues can also impede individuals as adults in the workplace. Therefore, like most things, early evaluation and intervention is important.
Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. He specializes in work with children and adolescents and is happy to answer questions and provide consultations for parents who are considering pursuing treatment or an evaluation for their child or adolescent. Dr. Heller can be reached at (301)-385-2610 or email@example.com.
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*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship, and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*