Learning disabilities can affect kids from every background and upbringing. There are a wide variety of different learning disabilities, varying in severity and treatment methods. If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, talk to his pediatrician or the teachers in his preschool or daycare to figure out the next step. Tempting as it can be, resist diagnosing your child yourself armed only with a book and the Internet. And whatever you do, don’t bother listening to the armchair diagnosis of your friends, mother-in-law or the lady down the street who stares out her window all day.
Common Learning Disabilities
A wide variety of conditions fall under the umbrella of learning disabilities. Some children with learning disabilities have trouble with letters; for example, dyslexia. Others have trouble with math, in that they have trouble recognizing or memorizing numbers or can’t differentiate between number signs, like the addition sign versus the subtraction sign. Some youngsters can understand letters and numbers that are seen but have trouble writing letters or numbers of their own. Always speak to an expert if you’re concerned about your child’s development in any of these areas, as some very young children just pick these things up faster than others and it may have nothing whatsoever to do with a learning disability. Make sure your expectations match what your tot is actually capable of. This means that, even though you know your child is a genius, he doesn’t have a learning disability simply because he can’t read sheet music by 3 years old.
Causes of Learning Disabilities
In many cases, it’s not known what causes learning issues. Sometimes, certain learning disabilities are hereditary. This means if you or or your husband had learning disabilities, your child might as well. Other times, learning disabilities can be the result of problems during pregnancy or birth, like alcohol or drug use, or an injury. Learning disabilities can also be the result of lead exposure, bad nutrition or head injuries in childhood. In other cases, it’s not possible to determine what causes learning disabilities, and beating yourself up over anything you might or might not have done to prevent a possible learning disability is a waste of energy.
In preschoolers, signs of a learning disability can vary and include problems learning basic things like letters, days of the week, colors or numbers. Other signs include having a hard time getting a routine down or following directions. Some children also have trouble pronouncing certain words or rhyming words. Trouble cutting and coloring may also be signs of a learning disability in preschoolers — or it could simply be a sign that your child doesn’t like to sit and color. Remember, don’t assume and don’t panic. Take a deep breath and a sip of coffee and call an expert. Again, an expert, not someone on a TV talk show! No matter how insightful Dr. Whoever might be on cable, he isn’t there to actually examine and diagnose your child.
Occurrence of Learning Disabilities
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, about 2.4 million kids have been diagnosed with some sort of learning disability and are getting help. This only includes kids who are diagnosed and are in public schools, so in actuality the number is probably quite a bit higher.