Saturday, June 2, 2007

Trouble with Learning

by Rachel Olsen

Is your child having trouble in school? Do you suspect your child may have a learning disability? Each year thousands of parents around the country answer, "Yes, what do I do about it?"

According to the National Institute of Health, a learning disability (LD) is a disorder that affects a person's ability to interpret what they hear or see, or to link information from different parts of their brain. Signs of a possible learning disorder may include: difficulties with spoken or written language, limited coordination, limited self control, or limited capacity to focus attention.

If your child is displaying a significant delay - such as 2 years behind for grade school level - in any of these areas, professional testing is recommended. Dr. Bill of Focus on the Family's Weekend Magazine suggests getting a referral from a doctor you trust such as your family physician or pediatrician. Testing can also be arranged through most schools. Once testing has provided a diagnosis, parents need to create a family plan for getting the needed help - be it educational, medical, practical or emotional.

Some families choose to homeschool their child with LD. In the home, curriculum can be personalized to the child's strengths and challenges. Other families keep their child in school but work closely with the child's teachers and provide ample homework help in the evenings to ensure successful learning. Still other families utilize professional tutoring services. Regardless of the schooling option chosen, participation and encouragement by the parent is a key to success.

As you form and carry out your family's plan, draw not only on the expertise of LD professionals but also of fellow parents "in the trenches" of LD with their own children. A local or online support group can provide a wealth of information, ideas and needed encouragement.

Here are five online resources for reading more about LD, asking questions, or seeking some needed support:
1. Schwab Learning's Guide to Helping Kids with Learning Difficulties:

2. LD Online's extensive web site, including a section for parents:

3. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, an empowering web site for parents of children with LD:

4. Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder's web site:

5. Articles and advice from parents home schooling children with LD: