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My Child Is Struggling With Learning

We understand how concerned and confused you may be if your child is struggling in school, and you’re worried that it might be due to a learning disability (LD). You’ve already taken a big, proactive step by simply visiting our website. To learn about the next steps on your “LD journey,” check out our helpful videos, checklists, articles and more below.

Struggling in School-Stage 1

13 (Better) Questions to Ask Your Child About School

13 Questions to Ask Your Child About School | Conversation StartersWhen your child comes home on the first few days of school—or throughout the school year—there will be lots of information you want from him or her. Here are some important things to keep in mind when you’re talking to your child about school.

A Parent’s Perspective—The Parent Role in the LD Evaluation Process (audio)

about learning disabilities–students with disabilitiesIn this Parent Perspective, a mother describes in heartfelt detail how she first noticed her preschool daughter’s speech and language delay—and the journey that followed. After seeking advice from private professionals and public school psychologists and teachers, she came to appreciate the value of her own insights and intuition.

Listen to Judith’s story and how she gained the confidence to work with professionals and make sound decisions about her daughter’s education and general well-being.

Are You Overwhelmed by Your Child’s IEP?

IEP Scenarios - Overwhelmed ParentsGiven the complexity of the IEP and IEP process—and its importance to a child’s education—it’s understandable that parents often feel overwhelmed. In fact, the whole IEP process can be an emotional roller coaster, as we learned from a survey we conducted in 2012. We asked parents what feelings they have ever experienced during the IEP process. The results were eye-opening, with over half of respondents saying they felt overwhelmed, confused, powerless, and/or intimidated. On a more positive note, many of those surveyed said they felt (or had at some time felt) hopeful, confident, thankful, and trusting.

Chapter 1: Pre-Referral Services

Special Education Law - Advocate Special Education

Finding Help for Your Struggling Child

Who is this for?

This chapter is for parents who know that their child is struggling in school, but are unsure whether or not their child has a learning disability.

Chapter 2: Response-to-Intervention

Response To Intervention - Special Education Law

A New Approach to Helping Students Most At-Risk for LD

Who is this for?

This chapter is for parents who know their child is struggling in school, but are unsure whether or not their child has a learning disability.

Chapter 3: Referral/Request for Evaluation

Special Education Evaluation - Special Education Law

Taking the First Step toward Special Education

Who is this for?

This chapter is for parents who are considering asking for a formal evaluation of their child (testing to determine if the child has a disability) or who have received a request from the school to have their child evaluated.

Chapter 5: Evaluation: Learning More About Your Child

Special Education Evaluation - Special Education Law

Who is this for?

This chapter is for the parents of students who have been referred for a formal evaluation as prescribed by IDEA, and for parents of students already eligible for special education services who are referred for a reevaluation.

Dyscalculia: The Importance of Mathematics in the LD Equation

Research about Mathematics - Math Learning DisabilitiesWhen children who struggle with learning are the topic of conversation, the spotlight is most often turned to reading. And with good reason. Trouble with reading is by far the most prevalent characteristic of specific learning disabilities (LD). That said, math is not far behind, and it is not unusual for individuals with LD to have trouble in both of these areas of learning and performance.

Dyslexia Toolkit

Dyslexia Toolkit - Learning DisabilitiesOften undiagnosed in children and teens, dyslexia impacts an estimated 15% of people and is a lifelong challenge for the individual diagnosed and for his or her parents, siblings and teachers. NCLD is here to help navigate what can be a confusing time for both you and your child. We’ve got just the tips and tools you need—whether your child is 5, 15, or 25.

How to Evaluate Dysgraphia: FAQs Answered

Dysgraphia Evaluation FAQs | Writing DifficultiesWe asked our lively Facebook community to ask us questions about dysgraphia, a learning disability (LD) that affects writing. The following expert answers from Sheldon H. Horowitz, EdD will help you understand exactly what dysgraphia is and if it might be the cause for your child’s difficulties with written expression.

Interactive LD Checklist

Learning Disabilities Symptoms - Signs of Learning Disabilities

Take the Checklist

It's not always easy to recognize learning disabilities. If you or someone you know displays the signs described in our LD Checklist, it's time to seek additional information or help.

The following checklist is designed as a helpful guide and not as a tool to pinpoint specific learning disabilities. The more characteristics you check, the more likely that the individual described is at risk for (or shows signs of) learning disabilities. When filling out this form, think about the person's behavior over at least the past six months. And when you're done, don't wait to seek assistance from school personnel or other professionals.

Get Started

Is My Child’s Behavior the Sign of a Learning Disability?

Children With Learning Disabilities - Behavioral Problems in ChildrenAny of this sound familiar? Your child’s teacher tells you that your son is having trouble sitting still in class…Every day, homework turns into a teary-eyed, hair-pulling, paper-tearing tug o’ war…Your teen is caught painting graffiti on the bathroom wall…You may be baffled by behaviors like these. And, you may wonder whether they could be linked to a learning disability (LD).

Learning Disabilities Basics (audio)

about learning disabilities–students with disabilitiesIn this podcast, NCLD’s Dr. Sheldon Horowitz answers common questions on the basics of learning disabilities. Learn about how learning disabilities are identified and specific ways executive functioning and executive processing relate to learning disabilities.

Making the Most of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

Communication with Parents and Teachers - Parent Teacher ConferenceThe first parent-teacher conference of the school year provides a great opportunity for you and your child's teacher to share insights and information. At this meeting, you can develop a relationship with the teacher and present yourself as a team player in your child's education.

May Questions from Our Community & Our Responses

Every day at NCLD, our team receives questions from parents, educators, policy officials and people who have learning and attention issues from all over the country. Each month, we share some of the questions and the NCLD team's responses to them. We hope these can be helpful to other members of our community who are experiencing some of the same issues.

Does my son need more testing?

NCLD’s Learning and Literacy Screening Tools

Get Ready to Read - Early Literacy Screening ToolsGet Ready To Read! is a service of the National Center for Learning Disabilities designed to support parents, educators and young children in the development of early literacy skills. There, you’ll find two free screening schools that provide a “snapshot” of your pre-kindergarten-age child’s skills.

Practice Language for Kids Nervous About Social Life

Practice Questions for Kids Nervous About Social Life | Tips for Making FriendsBeing nervous about the start of school is normal for a child, but there are a few things you can do as a parent to make the transition easier. The first is to decide whether it’s more likely that your child will be most nervous about the academic or social aspects of school. If it’s social aspects, read the tips below.

Problem Signs: Is It LD?

What Are Learning Disabilities - LD Learning Disabilities Everyone has trouble from time to time remembering names, balancing a checkbook, following directions, etc. For most people, these are not problems that they experience on a routine basis. For others, however, problems with learning and applying information interfere with their daily lives. Often, these individuals are not aware that they have learning disabilities. Many struggle for years to learn or perform certain basic tasks without understanding the reason for their difficulties. When they finally discover the cause of their problems is a learning disability, they speak of the relief that this knowledge brings. With this knowledge comes the ability to address the problem, to find ways to work around the disability, and ultimately, to meet success in life.

Questions to Ask a Professional Evaluator

Evaluation Questions - Adult EvaluationOnce you decide to seek an evaluation, it's important that you be actively involved in the process and that you have confidence in the professional with whom you are working. Once you've selected someone to do the testing, find out about his/her skills and overall perspective by asking the following types of questions:

Response to Intervention—A Primer for Parents

response-to-intervention-mother-helps-son-with-workResponse to Intervention (RTI) is not a new idea. In fact, features of this approach to teaching have been around for more than 20 years under names like Teacher Assistance Team Model, Pre-Referral Intervention Model, Mainstream Assistance Team Model, School-Based Consultation Team Model, and Multi-Tier Problem-Solving Model. Simply stated, RTI is an approach to instruction that combines the art and science of teaching, allows for (and encourages) creativity and innovation, and is solidly grounded in data-based decision-making (a very good thing!).

RTI and The Special Education Evaluation and Eligibility Process

Response To Intervention - Special Education Schools RTI (Response to Intervention) plays a critical role in how students are identified as having a disability and needing special education services. For many years, putting struggling students into special education was the only option. Requirements for special education eligibility were outdated and left students to struggle for years before help was provided. Students fell further and further behind, making it more difficult to catch up once help was provided.

Should I Be Concerned About Reading Difficulties?

Children Reading - Learning ReadingChildren take different paths while learning to read. For some children, learning to read may seem effortless. Others may struggle with the same kinds of learning that appears to come naturally to other children their age. So when should you be concerned?

Should I Be Concerned?

Learning Difficulties - Learning DisorderAs a parent, one of the most important things you can do to help your child get a good education is to understand how she learns—especially if you are concerned that she may be struggling in school. But sometimes knowing what to do and where to find help can be confusing.

If you suspect that your child’s learning difficulties may require special assistance, please do not delay in finding support. The sooner you move forward the better your child’s chances for reaching her full potential.

Should You Be Concerned About Your Preschooler’s Reading Skills?

Children Reading - Learning ReadingAs the parent of a preschooler, you play an important role in your child's development. Preschoolers are continually gaining important knowledge and skills that will help them learn to read, write and succeed in school when they get older. It’s important that you observe your child carefully and regularly share your observations with teachers, caregivers and health care providers. Sharing information about skills and about possible concerns will avoid later frustration, if your child shows signs of struggle.

Strategies for Addressing LD Identification Issues

Learning Disabilities - Identification IssuesIf the school informs you that they are using Response to Intervention (RTI), you should go ahead and request an evaluation in writing as soon as you think your child may have a disability. Making this request is critical because your written consent puts a 60-day timeframe on both the completion of the RTI process and the evaluation. The process of determining whether your child has a disability such as a learning disability and needs special education cannot go on indefinitely.

Testing for Dyslexia

How To Test For Dyslexia - Dyslexia TestIf you suspect that a child has dyslexia, an evaluation can lead to a better understanding of the problem and to recommendations for treatment. Test results are also used to determine state and local eligibility for special education services, as well as eligibility for support programs and services in colleges and universities. Ideally, evaluation results provide a basis for making instructional decisions and help determine which educational services and supports will be most effective.

Types of Tests to Assess Learning Disabilities and Related Disorders

Testing for Learning Disabilities | Types of LD TestsThere is no single “test” or even universally accepted approach to identifying learning disabilities (LD). The characteristics of LD often differ from one child to another, and what LD looks like in children will sometimes manifest in very different ways in adolescents and adults. Features of LD can be “hidden” in some situations and very much apparent in others. The key to identifying LD is therefore to identify areas of strength and weakness, rule in (or rule out) any complicating factors that might be contributing to learning problems, and hone in on the very specific nature of the struggle, so that timely decisions can be made about carefully targeted intervention and support.

Video: How Do I Request an Evaluation?

How to Request a Learning Disability Evaluation?
Laura Kaloi, public policy advisor at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, explains how to request an evaluation under the Individualized with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

What to Do If You Suspect Your Child Has a Learning Disability

Testing for Learning Disabilities - Children with Learning Disabilities If you suspect that your child has a learning disability (LD), don’t despair. With early recognition and targeted intervention, children with LD can achieve as well as other children do. Students whose LD is identified and addressed before they leave third grade have the best chance at academic success, but it’s never too late.

What’s the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

ADD and ADHD | What’s the Difference?Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are both brain-based conditions that affect people’s ability to stay focused on things like schoolwork, social interactions and everyday activities such as brushing teeth and getting dressed. The biggest difference is that kids with ADHD are hyperactive—they can’t sit still and are so restless that teachers quickly notice their rambunctious behavior and begin to suspect there might be attention issues involved. Kids with ADD might fly under the radar a bit longer because they aren’t bursting with energy and disrupting the classroom. Instead, they often appear shy, daydreamy, or off in their own world.

Where to Seek Help If You Suspect You Have LD

Adults with Learning Disabilities - Do I Have LDThere is only one way to know for certain if you have a learning disability: through a formal evaluation by a qualified professional who has been trained to identify learning disabilities. Such professionals may be clinical or educational psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists or learning disabilities specialists. It is essential that the professional have training and direct experience working with and evaluating adults with learning disabilities.

Worksheet: Planning for an Effective Meeting

Planning A Meeting - How To Plan A Meeting

As your child makes his or her way through the education system, you'll find yourself attending many, many meetings, especially if your child is struggling in school and/or receiving special education services. What can you do to support the effectiveness of these meetings?

Worksheet: Questions to Ask About Evaluation Plans

Evaluation Questions - Learning Evaluation  Is your child going to be evaluated for a learning disability and eligibility for special education in her public school? If so, you’ll want to know what to expect, such the timeframe for the evaluation and the opportunities available for parent input.