How do you know if your child has a learning disability? - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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How do you know if your child has a learning disability?

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Teresa Welsh

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Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012 2:00 pm

Is your child acting out in school? Does he or she hate to go to school? Will he or she break into a tantrum when they have to read or write?

You might want to have them evaluated for a learning disability by a neurological or child development physician. They can do a complete psychological evaluation on memory, working memory, visual, audio for reading, writing and math. This will tell you if your child is having difficulties in one or more of these areas.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines learning disability as a disorder in one or more areas of listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling or mathematical calculations. There are different types of learning disabilities, such as difficulty in reading (dyslexia), audio processing disorder, visual processing disorder, difficulty in writing (dysgraphia), and difficulty in math (dyscalculia).

Dyslexia affects a child with their reading skills. Words may jump on a page for them or numbers may get reversed when they do their math. Also, a child can have an audio processing disorder, which affects how they recognize and comprehend auditory information. Children will have a hard time following directions or have difficulties in reading, writing and spelling. Visual processing disorder is when they cannot copy from the board to their paper, always bumping into things, and have a hard time differentiating colors or similarly shaped letters and numbers.

There are different learning strategies that you can use in school and home to help your child overcome some of their weaknesses in reading, writing and math. Some of these strategies can be written in your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). Some strategies will depend on if they learn by visual or audio. I would use graphic organizers or tape recorders so they can review class notes. Also, recommend that they have strategies to help with short memory and increase their reading comprehension.

• Teresa Welsh is a behavior coach with her own company, Kids Reaching New Heights. Reach her at (602) 531-0230 or

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