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Learning Disorders in Children and what are the red flags?

Updated: Aug 26, 2021


While children have trouble with homework now and again, if a particular area of learning is consistently a problem, it might indicate a learning disorder.


For John’s Son, Andrew, speech had come a little later. He was already three years old when he spoke his first word and when he was learning to read and write, John noticed that Andrew often struggled by mixing up the letters when spelling. When it was time for him to learn math, Andrew took longer to grasp mathematical concepts. Soon John began to worry. Was Andrew just a slow bloomer, or was there a more serious underlying issue that needed to be addressed?


What are learning disabilities?


Learning disorders are a broad term used for a variety of learning problems. It often has nothing to do with intelligence or motivation. Children with learning disorders are just as bright as everyone else. Their brains are just wired differently, and this difference affects how they receive and process information.



Parents must understand that children with learning disorders see, hear, and understand things differently. This can lead to challenges with traditionally learning new information and skills. The most common types of learning disorders involve reading, writing, math, reasoning, listening, and even speaking. Children with learning disorders can, and do, succeed. It may be tough to face the possibility that your child has a learning disorder. As a parent, it is natural to wonder what it could mean for your child’s future or worry about how your child will cope in school. Fret not; they need to be taught in ways that are tailored to their unique learning styles!


What are the red flags for learning disabilities/disorders?


Learning disorders vary from child to child. A child may struggle with reading and spelling, while the other loves books but can’t manage math. Still, different children may have difficulty understanding what others are saying or communicating out loud.


Since learning disorders manifest differently across children, there is no single profile typical to a child with a learning disorder. There are some warning signs, and if you’re aware of what they are, you’ll be able to catch a learning disorder early and quickly take steps to get your child the help they need to be successful.


The following checklist lists some common red flags for learning disorders. Remember that children who don’t have learning disabilities may still experience some of these difficulties at various times. The time for concern is when there is a consistent unevenness in your child’s ability to master specific skills.



Preschool-age


If your child has trouble pronouncing words, trouble finding the right word, experiences difficulty rhyming, trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes, days of the week, difficulty following directions or learning routines, difficulty controlling crayons, pencils, and scissors, or colouring within the lines, having trouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, learning to tie shoes then your child may be exhibiting signs of a learning disorder.


Kindergarten Age 5-9


If your child has trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds, is unable to blend sounds to make words, confuses basic words when reading, slow to learn new skills, consistently misspells words and makes frequent errors, trouble learning basic math concepts, difficulty telling time and remembering sequences then your child may be exhibiting signs of a learning disorder.


Primary School Age 10-13


If your child has difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills, is having trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems, dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud, has poor handwriting, poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, the desk is messy and disorganized), trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud, spells the same word differently in a single document then your child may be exhibiting signs of a learning disorder.


If you begin to see signs in your child, start getting a second opinion on what learning difficulties your child could be facing and how to manage them. Many parents often refuse to see learning difficulties as none of us wants to accept that our child may be different or “slower” than others. Nonetheless, it helps to be observant of all the learning obstacles that your child faces and not wait until they’re older for potential intervention.


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