Academic challenges might involve various different issues which include but are not limited to learning disabilities. Prevalence rates over the past couple of years have shown that a significant number of school-aged children have a diagnosable learning disability (NCES, National Center for Education Statistics, 2019). Unfortunately, a big portion of these students do not receive official diagnoses and treatment which leads to increased stress related to academia and schoolwork that gets generalized to the child’s overall well-being. Nevertheless, there have been nationwide and worldwide efforts to discuss learning disabilities and to make sure schools and communities understand the importance of inclusion and early intervention in helping children succeed.
Many children experience difficulties with schoolwork, it does not mean they have a learning disability. The signs of learning disabilities vary from one child to another but typically one of the most prominent indicators that the child may have a learning disability is that the difficulties don’t go away with time. What this means is that despite some progress and some interventions that have been shown to be helpful, the child will still have difficulties that linger over time.
Some of the common signs that are correlated with learning disabilities include:
• Difficulties with reading
• Difficulties with writing
• Difficulties with memory
• Difficulties with attention
• Difficulties following certain directions
• Difficulties completing classroom activities and tasks
• Difficulties with organization
It is important to note however that those signs are simply informational and that the only way to know if a child has a learning disability is to get a formal assessment and screening done by a qualified child educational psychologist.
If you suspect that your child may have a learning disability, the first thing to do is to discuss these academic challenges with the school (teachers, specialists in education and/or school psychologist). Once this is done and if as a team you agree that the child’s struggles and school challenges may be due to a learning disability, you can seek help from a child and educational psychologist who will recommend the best course of action.
Nowadays, many schools are prepared to develop classroom-based accommodations to help students with learning disabilities. Teachers and school personnel can work with the student, parents and psychologist to make the necessary accommodations. Students with learning disabilities will also benefit from having an IEP (individualized education plan) that describes the child’s needs and goals and outlines what the child will need to reach those goals in a more efficient way. The objective of these plans is to allow children who have learning disabilities to reach their full potential and receive the same opportunities as their peers.
Dr. Elena Andrioti
PhD – Psychologist