There are five things you should do if you think your child has a learning disability (or the more political way to say it – a learning difference. This is an important post that you may not need now or that may not pertain to your family, but I assure you will will want these 5 tips to share with a friend who is struggling to make sense of what their child faces each day!
Google the symptoms.
You can tell something is different with your child but you just can’t put your finger on it. Start looking at things in smaller parts and Google them! For me, it was alarming that my kindergartener had zero phonemic awareness. He knew only a few letters and could not blend which are common tasks for kindergarteners these days. These were symptoms of the issue at hand. So start with some Google searches and put yourself in the ballpark for what the issue could be.
Start talking about it.
Start talking to anyone who will listen! You are not alone and you will want to identify some people who can help you figure this out. This is so important because when you find these people, they will help you navigate the world to get appropriate help. For my family, had I done this before I sought out independent doctor advise, I may have selected a different doctor. So it’s very important because it may ultimately effect your bottom line. (If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to try something or a certain book to read, I would be rich!)
Join Facebook Groups.
Doing a simple search on Facebook for groups can do a world of good! This will connect you with others who have already walked a mile in your shoes! If you are not sure what your child could possibly have, join groups for common diagnosis’s for children today and read through what other families have to say. Look for similarities with your child and theirs to find the right group for you. In the search bar on Facebook, type in the keywords and select the ones that are groups. Some may be closed groups, request to join and I guarantee they will welcome you with open arms.
Request school testing.
You should do this immediately! There is no harm in having a true learning difference ruled out. Put it in writing and hand deliver it to your school’s office. In that letter, request exactly what your concerns are using the following categories: a learning disability (cognitive testing), occupational disorder (gross or fine motor issues), speech disorder (which can include processing language not just mispronunciations), and/or social emotional (if they have trouble coping with things.) There are others but these are the main ones that pop into my head. It is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) that if you request testing they have to do it. But what happens sometimes is the team meets and the “group decides” that it is best to wait for testing. Do not let them talk you of testing! There is no benefit to waiting for services but huge emotional harm can be done if a child with a learning difference is left in a classroom without services. You have an opinion and your opinion counts in that meeting; stick to your purpose and just get the testing done now!
Seek outside help.
Let’s face it, the only person who is truly looking out for your child is you (or your family). Sad to say, but schools deal with budgets, staffing hours, and tons of children who need services. Although legally the school has to provide you with this service, the sad truth is that it does not always happen in the best way for your child. This is why I highly recommend seeking your own professional opinion. Start with your regular doctor. Tell them something is different with your child. Don’t let them brush over the topic and don’t let them tell you the school should handle either. Whatever that next step is, take it. For my family it was seeing a developmental pediatrician. He was able to test my child and provide us with some results to take to our IEP meeting. For me, I considered this a step to becoming more informed on what my child was facing so when my IEP came around I was able to say XYZ needed to be done for him.
Now with that being said, there is also a law that says if you are not happy with your child’s school evaluation, you have the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation. In this instance you would request (in writing) that your child have an outside evaluation from a third party. This is typically done after they do an in-house evaluation I believe. And from what I understand you don’t have to give a reason for doing so but this is not an option my family chose to do. We paid for our outside evaluation ourselves. But if you are interested in this option, you can definitely good Independent Educational
Evaluation and find help!
There you have it! Five things that you should do if you think your child has a learning disability. It is so frustrating to be a parent and not know how to help your child and these steps will help empower you to advocate for your little one!
It’s never too soon and stick to your purpose!
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Jennifer is the author and founder of Simply Kinder. She has over 15 years teaching experience with most of those being in kindergarten. She believes Kindergarten can be academic and fun!