How to Diagnose a Learning Disability

Homework is hard for all children and teens, but serious difficulties can suggest that something bigger at work. Are you or your loved one frightened to read aloud? Tackling a mathematical sum seem to be too dreadful? Is pronunciation too difficult? These are the indications that you or your child has learning disability. You may feel worried. This is normal. With support and treatment, it will be okay.


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    Write down symptoms. If you aren't a professional, avoid trying to diagnose yourself or your child; instead gather as much information as you can. Write down any symptoms you observe, and think back for any anecdotes that suggest a disability.
    • Researching different diagnoses and reading symptom lists may help you remember symptoms. However, avoid marrying yourself to a diagnosis. Some disabilities can look similar to each other, and a specialist will be able to best make the distinction.
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    Consider a learning disability in reading (dyslexia). In this case the child has difficulty in understanding the relationship between sounds, letters and words. On the other hand, while reading they cannot understand the meaning of words, phrases and paragraphs. Symptoms include...[1][2]
    • Difficulty associating letters with sounds
    • Trouble "sounding out" unfamiliar words
    • Difficulty writing or copying words or letters in order
    • Pronunciation confusion, such as "coft sat" instead of "soft cat"
    • Difficulty with reading level, reading aloud, and reading comprehension
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    Consider a learning disability in maths (dyscalculia). Some kids will have a tough time telling the time from the clock. They may also struggle in memorizing the tables and adding (6+6= 12 or 6x6=36).
    • Difficulty telling time from a clock
    • Struggles memorizing math facts (6 + 6 = 12 or 6 * 6 = 36)
    • Difficulty counting by twos, fives, tens, et cetera
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    Consider a learning disability in writing (dysgraphia). Affected people cannot maintain neatness while writing, they cannot copy accurately from a different source, and have difficulty in writing correct spellings.
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    Consider difficulty with motor skills (dyspraxia). Dyspraxia can involve issues with fine motor skills (writing, folding, cutting) or gross motor skills (running, jumping, walking on difficult terrains).[3]
    • Problems with hand-eye coordination, like buttons, shoelaces, catching a ball, writing
    • Clumsiness
    • Reluctance to do physical activities like sports or hiking
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    Consider auditory processing disorder. Auditory processing disorder, also referred to as receptive language problems, involves difficulty processing and distinguishing between sounds. This makes it difficult to understand spoken language. This confusion can lead to difficulty in reading, writing, and spelling.[4]
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    Look at the possibility of visual processing disorder. A person with this disorder has eyes that work fine; however, this information can get jumbled inside the brain.
    • Difficulty reading; skipping words and lines, or reversing letters (may resemble dyslexia)
    • Hand-eye coordination issues
    • Depth perception trouble; may appear clumsy
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    Recognize the possibility that other disabilities are at play. Autism, ADHD, anxiety, and depression may also be contributing to your or your child's struggles.[5][6]
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    Set up a doctor appointment. Explain to your general doctor what symptoms you've observed, and how they are affecting your or your child's life. Your doctor may diagnose right away, or refer you to a specialist in learning disabilities.
    • Don't settle for "wait and see." If you or your child are struggling now, you or they deserve help now.
    • Most (but not all) doctors are helpful. If you feel that your doctor didn't take time to listen to you, or was otherwise unhelpful, get a second opinion.
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    Ask to be referred to a specialist. A specialist can provide or review a diagnosis, and talk about treatment for the disability(ies). Most learning disabilities are lifelong, but with extra support and learning strategies, you or your child can lead a happy and productive life.

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Categories: Raising Children with Special Needs | Disability Issues