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Learning Disabilities - Topic Overview

What should you do if you think your child may have a learning disability?

If you think your child has a learning disability, speak with your child's doctor, teacher, or school counselor. You can also ask your child about any problems that he or she may be having in school.

You may want to have your child tested. Your doctor or a school professional will ask you what signs of a learning disability you and your child's teachers have seen. Your child will also be asked questions.

A single test can't diagnose a learning disability. Tests may include reading and writing tests, as well as those that focus on your child's personality, learning style, language and problem-solving skills, and IQ (intelligence quotient).

How is a learning disability treated?

A learning disability is treated by using educational tools to help overcome it. Medicines and counseling usually aren't used.

For most children, federal law requires that a public school create an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP details your child's disability, appropriate teaching methods, and goals for the school year. The IEP changes, based on how well your child is doing. You have the right to ask for a change in the IEP if you don't agree with it.

What can you do to help your child?

  • Learn about your child's learning disability. This can help you better understand and help your child. You can also talk to other parents whose children have learning disabilities.
  • Find out your child's best learning style. Does your child do best through reading or listening? Would a demonstration or hands-on practice work better? For example, if your child understands more when listening, let him or her learn new information by listening to an audio book or watching a DVD.
  • Be honest with your child about the disability. Explain it in a way that your child can understand. And offer your love and support. Tell your child that some things will be hard for him or her, but this doesn't mean that he or she is a failure.
  • Look into finding a tutor to help your child. Or learn how to tutor your child yourself.
  • Focus on more than school and the learning disability. Encourage your child to explore many different types of activities.
  • Praise your child when he or she does well in any school or recreational activity.
  • Find small tasks that your child can do around the house. Use simple instructions, and break the tasks into many small steps. Finishing these tasks can help your child build specific skills and self-confidence.
  • If you have concerns about your or your child's mental health, look into counseling. Counseling may be able to help you and your child deal with frustrations you may feel.
  • Build a good relationship with your child's teacher. Keep each other up to date on how well your child is doing at school and at home.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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