Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities
If parents suspect that their child has a learning disability, they should first contact the child’s teacher or principal, and if necessary, the local or state Director of Special Education. Public law requires the school to evaluate any child who is thought to have a learning disability. Evaluations are normally performed using standardized tests, usually by a trained psychologist or a Pediatrician with a specialty in child development.
As soon as a learning disability is diagnosed, a child should be examined by a team of medical doctors, psychologists and educators to determine if physical or mental problems are the cause of the condition.
It may be difficult to absolutely diagnose a learning disability before a child reaches the age of six or seven. However, once a diagnosis is made, educational assistance is needed promptly.
Treatment of Learning Disabilities
Specific educational assistance is the best treatment for individuals with learning disabilities. Remedial training in areas where a disabled child is weakest is best managed by trained teachers, reading specialists, or tutors in special classes or schools. The law requires the child’s school to develop Individual Education Plans for all children with learning disabilities, so as to develop a comprehensive approach for each child. Parents are encouraged to participate in the process.
Gentle understanding, emotional support, and opportunities for the child to experience success in other non-reading activities should be encouraged. Allowing a child to “burn-off” tensions and frustrations through sports or artistic activities can be most helpful.
Learning disabilities may be complicated problems. Scientific evidence demonstrates that simple solutions such as diet, mega-vitamins, sugar restriction, eye exercises, or visual training do not improve reading skills. Unfortunately, relying solely on such treatment may actually harm the child by delaying proper educational assistance.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Learning Disabilities
Are there any tests to help evaluate my child?
Does the school system supply the team to examine the child?
As the team tests and evaluates the child, will they explain the results?
Is there any cost?
What learning program can help my child’s learning disabilities?
How soon can it be started?
How will this affect my child’s self-esteem?
What can be done at home to help the situation?