All About Learning Differences (LD)
About 1 in 5 children in the U.S. has a learning difference. Most kids diagnosed with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence. They simply learn differently and need specialized support to succeed. Because these kids are bright, sometimes their problems can go unnoticed. They often are working twice as hard as their peers to keep up. When academic expectations increase, putting in more hours isn’t enough to maintain their grades. For this reason, some kids are diagnosed with learning disabilities as late as high school or college. Other kids adopt a different strategy and act out behaviorally when, in fact, they have undiagnosed learning disabilities. Many high-profile and successful people, including Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California and Olympic skating champion Meryl Davis struggle with dyslexia.
Learning disabilities (LD) is an umbrella term for disorders including dyslexia (language and reading problems), sensory integration disorder (motor coordination problems), central auditory processing disorder (difficulty processing and remembering language tasks), nonverbal learning disorders (nonverbal communication problems), visual perceptual/visual motor deficits (reversing letters) and language disorders (poor reading comprehension, etc).
How CHC Helps With LD
Learning Differences is a specialty at CHC. We have many different professionals who can help kids with these barriers to learning. Sand Hill School specializes in working with K-6 kids with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences. The Center can provide evaluations and coaching. Many students at Esther B. Clark School come with learning differences. The Community Clinic can provide evaluations, school observations and treatment especially for families who need financial assistance. Parent education classes offers a special series devoted to Learning Differences, and there are also numerous articles and other resources in our Parent Resource Library.
Signs to Watch For
- Smart but struggles academically
- Avoids reading or reads slowly and reluctantly
- Trouble spelling and remembering math facts
- Can’t follow multi-step directions
- Exhaustion at the end of the school day
- Psychosomatic complaints such as stomach aches
- Says, “I don’t have any friends.”
Diagnosing a child with LD before the child is expected to read fluently is often challenging. However, parents can watch for indicators like the ones mentioned above and act as early as possible. The earlier children get intervention, even before a formal diagnosis, the more prepared they will be as academic demands increase. Acting early is particularly important to safeguard your child’s self-esteem. Children with learning challenges commonly decide at an early age that they’re not “smart” by sizing up the differences between the academic performance of their peers and their performance.
CHC’s Approach to Treating LD
Children’s Health Council offers a range of services for children with learning differences and the problems that can often accompany them such as ADHD and anxiety. Our approach to helping kids with LD is to make sure complicating factors are identified and addressed as part of the solution. In addition, Sand Hill School at Children’s Health Council, offers a personalized approach for children (Grades K-8) with dyslexia or other language-based learning differences.
Specialists Who Work With LD
- Assistive Technology Specialists
- Educational Specialists
- Occupational Therapists
- Speech-Language Pathologists