Learning disabilities in children can be challenging to navigate for parents and kids alike. Half the battle is determining if a learning disability exists and the specifics of that particular learning struggle. Once you know that, you can develop an action plan to work with your child to overcome obstacles as they arise. Until then, it may feel like you’re just rowing a boat in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight.
In his “Psychology Today” article entitled 3 Signs Your Child Has Learning Disabilities, Sean Grover L.C.S.W. shares the following advice:
“If your child is struggling academically, maybe it’s time to consider your kid isn’t just being difficult. Maybe there’s something more going on than meets the eye. After all, who wants to do badly in school?”
Since October is Learning Disability Awareness Month (and with the school year already in session), we thought now would be the perfect opportunity to discuss learning disabilities. When most people think of learning disabilities, they think of children in a school setting. While that’s an essential aspect of it, learning disabilities in adults are also common.
Regardless of age, it makes sense to address any learning difficulties you or your loved ones face. This is all the truer since learning disabilities not adequately dealt with can lead to mental health struggles and added obstacles to thrive in life. For the sake of this article, we’ll discuss some potential learning disability symptoms to look for in your child.
Difficulty Reading and Writing
This is of great concern for parents of kids with learning disabilities since reading and writing are so foundational to future learning and personal success. Although it’s normal for writing and reading improvement to be challenging at times, it shouldn’t feel like an impossible task for your child.
If the thought of bettering their reading and writing skills overwhelms your child, then a learning disability could be the issue. This is especially true if your child is naturally curious but regularly shuts down or gives up during these learning activities.
Your Child Mainly Struggles in One Life Area
And that area is academics, of course. If your child struggles with schoolwork but does well in other settings, that could be a good indicator of a learning disability.
An underlying mental health condition likely isn’t to blame. Otherwise, all settings or tasks would probably show some noticeable stress and difficulty. The fact that academics is where the ‘dog fight’ lies says a lot.
How is your child’s mood when they return home from school each day? Is it pretty stable for the most part or all over the place? Think of these mood observations as ‘taking your child’s academic temperature.’ It tells you if your child feels confident they can meet the demands of school or not.
If your child seems regularly depressed, anxious, irritable or angry, this could indicate a learning disability. Yes, there may be some social conflicts at play or a mental health disorder. But it could just as easily be a stress reaction to feeling unable to meet learning expectations.
Learning is tiring. It takes a lot out of you. While it’s normal for your child to be somewhat tired after school, do their energy levels seem so depleted that they don’t feel up to other activities they enjoy? Do they come home and nap instead of playing with friends or doing their homework?
If your child continually feels mentally maxed out at school, the natural result is extreme tiredness and fatigue. While your first thought may be concerns over a physical or mental health condition, it could also be a learning disability.
An ‘I Don’t Care’ Attitude
Learning disabilities often don’t surface until middle or high school when schoolwork becomes more demanding and complex. Many parents assume that because their child didn’t struggle academically in elementary school, that they’re just going through a rebellious streak.
However, parents need to be careful. Willfully casting off academic responsibilities and rejecting them because they’re too overwhelming often can look surprisingly similar to a rebellious streak. Does your child ever say ‘I don’t care’ when you bring up their school struggles? This may have more to do with their defense mechanisms because of a learning disability than anything else.
The idea of being a failure at school, an embarrassment in front of their peers and disappointment to you despite their best efforts can be excruciating. This can cause your child to display signs of academic apathy and unconcern when, deep down, they care very much but feel helpless to come up with a solution.
There could be challenges with following directions. You also may notice incomplete or poorly taken notes. Abandoned homework or classwork is another potential sign something is interfering with your child’s concentration.
Does your child excel at certain subjects while significantly struggling with others? It may well be that the lower grades are a result of certain classes showing the presence of a learning disability
I Suspect a Learning Disability in My Child. What Should I Do?
There are several routes you can go. First, your child’s teacher will be a valuable resource since they regularly interact with your child in a learning environment. They’ll be able to communicate observations, and you’ll be able to combine that with what you see. You can also speak with your child’s guidance counselor.
If you’d like professional feedback, consider contacting a neuropsychologist who works with children. Through confidential consultation, you’ll find out more specific information on the type of learning disability your child may be experiencing and the next best steps to take.
Learning Disabilities in Children and Counseling
Under the best circumstances, your child’s school years can sometimes be challenging. If a learning disability is present, that is all the more the case. If you, your child or overall family dynamic has been strained lately due to these concerns, now could be an excellent time to consider counseling. Or maybe as an adult, you’ve been wondering, “Do I have a learning disability?”
Either way, Valencia Relationship Institute can help with your counseling needs. Whether you need child counseling, parent-child counseling, individual therapy or relationship counseling, we can assist you. VRI provides therapy in Valencia, CA and Toluca Lake/Burbank, CA. We also offer video counseling sessions during the uncertain times brought on by the pandemic. Feel free to schedule an appointment with us.