Q&A: My child/teen’s teacher says they may have a learning disability. What does this mean and what can I do?

If your child/teen is struggling in school, it can feel frustrating and confusing. Not only does the idea of a “learning disability” sound intimidating, but it can also feel as though you don’t know where to turn for help. I often explain to parents that there is no “one way” or “best way” to learn. There are many ways and styles of learning. The key is to figure out the ways in which your child/teen learns, what their strengths in learning are, and how you can use those strengths to their advantage. If, for example, they better learns by hearing information than by reading it, it will be important to provide them with auditory information in addition to written information. Specifically, if your child/teen is struggling with reading comprehension, and seems to do well with understanding auditory information, they may very well benefit from listening to books on tape while reading along with the story. We all have strengths and challenges in learning. Helping your child/teen figure out theirs will not only benefit their current learning process, but will also help to set them up for success and provide them with the tools to advocate for their future learning needs. One way in which to do this is to complete a Comprehensive Individualized Assessment, sometimes referred to as a psycho-diagnostic assessment. This will provide insight into your child/teen’s learning style. If necessary it will also provide you with information in regards to the types of accommodations they may need on in-class and standardized tests. While it can be intimidating and overwhelming to wonder if your child/teen has a learning disability, by better understanding their learning style they may feel more empowered to achieve their goals, and as parents you will be better able to help them along the way.

Response by Assessment Specialist at the Institute

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