You have just received a call from your child’s teacher explaining that she has noticed your child having difficulty in school. Your child is not understanding math or reading the way the other children do. So she would like your permission to proceed with testing to find out if he has a learning disability.
When this happens, it is always a good idea to meet with the teacher in person. Being proactive is extremely important to your child’s educational future. Arrange to sit down and talk with the teacher to discover specifically why she has recommended this. You may want to include the special education teacher as well, as she may be able to further clarify just what they are seeing that is causing them to question your child’s abilities.
One thing you have to understand is that just because a learning disability is questioned, that does not mean that your child isn’t smart. It just means that, for some reason, he’s either not able to access those smarts and is not “getting” what is being taught. Or, he may be having difficulty expressing what he has actually learned.
One indication that there is a problem might be that the child gets very good grades in math, but his reading is below average. He is not reading at the same level that most of the other students of his age are reading at. There is a big difference between his learning in math and his learning in reading. If he is old enough, there may be standardized test scores that also show that huge difference, and the teacher should be able to show you that information.
You may have noticed other indications at home but thought they were just “kid things”. If you ask your child to do 2 or 3 things in a row, does he forget most of them? When you ask him a question, does he have difficulty expressing the answer? Is his room always disorganized? Does he have trouble socially?
These are some of the questions you might want to think about as you talk with the teacher and ask if she notices them in the classroom.
It is important you realize that by doing this, you are not putting your child down or complaining about him or labeling him as a “bad kid”. You are discussing the facts of what is actually going on, or not going on, with his learning. You are acting in his best interest.
Do not hesitate to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. The teachers will not think that you are stupid or inadequate The area of Learning Disabilities can be very confusing and overwhelming to anyone. It is best that you understand what is going on right from the beginning.
When the teachers have explained the symptoms to your satisfaction, then it is time to find out what will happen from here. Ask specific questions about the testing, how best to address your child’s concerns and how to minimize any “stigma” your child might experience as a result of being tested. Remember, you are the parent. And everyone is here to help your child. For more up-to-date plain talk about learning disabilities.