Learning Disabilities are a common reason for children to be unhappy at school and to resist doing some or all of their school work. Learning Disabilities can occur by themselves or may further complicate other problems such as ADHD, depression, or anxiety.
What is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability exists when a person has an unexpected problem learning certain types of information when it appears overall that they are intelligent enough to learn it. For example a child may be average in his ability to learn to read and write but have difficulty learning to add and subtract. (This would be termed a Developmental Math Disorder). Or a very bright student may be well above average in math and reading but have tremendous problems putting her thoughts down on paper. (This would be termed a Developmental Written Language Disorder). In each instance the child is likely to be frustrated and demoralized and may give up trying. They may look inattentive in school as they tune out when the task just doesn't make sense to them. At home there may be terrible fights or tantrums as the child tries to get out of doing homework.
How do I determine if my child has a Learning Disability?
Your child's teacher may have already picked up that your child struggles in a particular subject and suggested that a psych-educational evaluation be performed. This would entail a psychologist administering an intelligence test to your child and then assessing her academic performance with other specific tests to look at various aspects of math, reading, and language (spoken and written).
Often learning disabilities are discovered when the child is being evaluated for other suspected problems such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD. That is why when these other problems are suspected it is very important for the evaluator to obtain school report cards and information about the child's performance in school and on homework. When the evaluator comes across information that suggests a learning disability they should recommend that a specific psych-educational evaluation be performed by the school psychologist or by an appropriately trained psychologist in the community. If a learning disability is found public schools are required to provide special educational services to help the child learn by using alternative teaching methods geared to how that particular child learns best.
You may find additional useful information about learning disabilities at www.ldonline.org
Warren J. Steinmuller, M.D.
1717 Cleveland Avenue
Charlotte, North Carolina 28203 (704) 376-7654
Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
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