Jun 1, 2006

Preschool symptoms of a learning disability

A learning disability is defined as "a neurobiological disorder in which a person's brain works or is structured differently, affecting one or more of the basic processes involved in understanding or using spoken or written language." This disability may result in a problem with listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or doing mathematical calculations. Experts have come to the conclusion that children with LD have a problem with the way the brain handles information.

LD affect one in seven people. Every year, 120,000 additional children are diagnosed with LD. This diagnosis is now shared by 2.4 million schoolchildren in the U.S. Learning disabilities are often considered "hidden handicaps" due to the fact they are not easily recognized, accepted, or considered serious once detected. LD are not curable but individuals can learn to compensate for and even overcome their areas of weakness.

Common learning disabilities include dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and auditory and visual processing disabilities. The earlier a child's LD is detected, the better chance he will have of succeeding in school and in life. However, the crucial element in identifying LD is their effect on academic performance. Therefore, the problems LD cause aren't apparent until the child goes to school. There is no one indication of learning disabilities. However, a consistent pattern of the following problems during the preschool years may suggest the need for further testing.

  • learning the alphabet
  • rhyming words
  • connecting sounds and letters
  • counting or learning numbers
  • being understood when speaking to a stranger
  • using scissors, crayons, or paint
  • reacting too much or too little to touch
  • using words or using phrases
  • pronunciation
  • walking up and down stairs
  • talking (late talker)
  • remembering names of colors
  • dressing

Our 9 year old ADHD & LD son had 11 of the above 13 early symptoms of LD. Unfortunately, at the time I had no idea these were signs of LD. I thought he was just a slow developer and would eventually catch up. However, it was apparent when he started kindergarten that he was well behind his peers. He required a Title 1 teacher (West Virginia's equivalent to a resource teacher) the nine weeks of school. It wasn't until the second half of his first grade year that I could actually get the school to test him for LD. Come to find out he has several: reading comprehension, written expression, oral expression, math calculation, and basic reading. Once discovering this the school issued an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) with accommodations to help him in class. I only wish I'd known earlier in his young life that what I was seeing was a sign of a true disability. It is my hope that by posting the preschool signs/symptoms of LD, other parents will benefit and possibly seek help for their child sooner.

*Information taken from "The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities," by Carol Turkington & Joseph R. Harris, PH.D., 2002.

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