What to do if you suspect your child has a learning disability

I couldn’t keep Cheyenne out of anything, as a baby she had learned to crawl by seven months and began walking at 10 months. Some of her first words were, school, delicious, and tickle.

By the age of two, Cheyenne spoke in full sentences and could carry conversations with adults. Being a young mom, I thought my daughter’s early advancements were due to being around college students as I was in college.

When we placed Cheyenne in a large daycare setting, I began to notice something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. As I compared her to her friends, I noted she didn’t play with her friends but more alongside them.

Her words and interactions were monotoned compared to her highly enthusiastic playmates.

When she entered the public school system, she began to struggle and we worked through issues of needing glasses and speech therapy.

It wasn’t until she was in fourth grade, we learned she had inattentive ADD as we began medication therapy and I thought surely she would be successful in her studies and interactions with her friends.

Still she struggled, it wasn’t until I placed my daughter into counseling that we learned she was on the autism spectrum. Through our counselor’s assistance, we requested testing through Kearney Public Schools and also made appointments for assessments through private doctors. The school evaluations and test results confirmed Cheyenne had special needs. More specifically, she had Inattentive Attention Deficit Disorder combined with Asperger’s and an Auditory Processing Disorder.

That same year, our son had also started pre-school. He was bright but oh so active. He was like the energizer bunny that kept going and going and going. Picking him up from pre-school each day was much like the walk of shame. Kids would come out, telling their parents how naughty Elijah was that day and his teacher gave a full report of, “He blurted this out, he couldn’t sit still, he disrupted the class.”

Having just been through testing with Cheyenne, I didn’t waste any time starting the process for our son. We learned our bright eyed boy had Attention Hyperactive Deficit Disorder with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Once we understood our children had different needs, we began to work with our school system to get the help and assistance our children needed to be successful in school. Each year we sit down with a team of teachers and helpers for our daughter as we plan her IEP for the year while we see a behavior therapist for our son and his medication therapy.

Disorders aren’t the end of the world. If you suspect that your child has a learning disability (LD), don’t despair. With early recognition and targeted intervention, children with LD can achieve as well as other children do. Students whose LD is identified and addressed before they leave third grade have the best chance at academic success, but it’s never too late. Our daughter wasn’t fully diagnosed until sixth grade. However, it’s critical that you are proactive about your child’s learning difficulties. The sooner you address your child’s struggles, the sooner he or she can receive appropriate support. 

Here are some important steps you can take to work with teachers and other professionals to find out if your child has LD and ensure that he or she gets the necessary help to succeed in school.

Track and collect your child’s academic performance.

Using a simple folder and notebook, gather any notes his teacher sends home. Be sure to mark the dates of the wok collected. Also be sure to make detailed notes about your child’s interactions with peers. For example, “When picking up Cheyenne from daycare today, I noted she was playing alone instead of with her peers,” and of course date it. Also keep a record of discussions you’ve had with school personnel and other professionals. Through this process you’ll start to develop an awareness of your child’s ability to learn, study, do homework and finish the tasks that are assigned.

Share your concerns with your Child’s Teacher

A mother’s intuition is key, share your concerns, suspicions, and insights with your child’s teacher. Honest and open communication with your child’s teacher will you both develop strategies and ideas to help your child be successful at school.

Talk to your child’s doctor

As questions and concerns arise, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Ask about milestones and development and share the progress you’ve been tracking on top of any observations you have about your child’s ability to interact with peers or learning abilities.

Your child’s doctor can arm you with potential information and also make referrals for behavior therapy, medication, or occupational therapy.

Request an Evaluation

Each state and school system has a unique procedure for disabilities assessments. For Kearney Public Schools, a parent can call their office of Special Education.

  • For a child not in school (but in pre-school or daycare), KPS will conduct interviews with the parents and teachers. They will likely shadow your child in his learning environment before administering assessments to determine whether your child is eligible for special education services.
  • For school aged children, you can also contact the special education department. The referral will go to the Student Assessment Team. They will also shadow your child in his learning environment, gather observations and use other tools to determine your child’s needs.

Once these assessments are complete and your child does qualify for assistance in learning, they will make referrals to see your doctor about possible diagnosis’ and get to work on planning your child’s Individual Evaluation Plan.  

 

Resources


Kearney Public Schools Special Education 

Signs of Autism in early childhood/infants 

Signs of Aspergers in childchood 

Signs of Aspergers  in infants/toddlers 

Signs of ADHD at every age 

Signs of Learning Disabilities

 

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