How do you know if your child has a learning disability or may be autistic or has Asperger's Syndrome?
Usually a learning disability isn't detected until the child enters school. Even then a learning disability can go undetected for years if the child learns coping skills.
For instance, many children with a learning disability or learning difficulty will act like they don't care about school. If this is a very intelligent child, then often times teachers and parents assume he is lazy and doesn't care about learning. He has learned how to hide his deficiency.
Think about what a child learns in her first 5 years. First she has to learn to recognize and distinguish mom from dad, and parents from siblings. She also learns how to focus, roll over, sit up, stand and walk.
These are just a few skills that any child has to learn in early childhood. Learning disabilities aren't visible like a broken arm; but there are signs that can alert you that your child may be at risk.
Here are just a few red flags that will alert you that your child may have learning difficulties.
1 - 3 months
Doesn't grasp objects; crosses eyes most of the time
4 - 7 months
Doesn't laugh; doesn't roll over
8 - 12 months
Can't stand when supported; doesn't sit steadily
18 - 24 months
Can't walk; doesn't make 2 word sentences
Tervo, R. (2009). Red flags and rules of thumb; Sorting out developmental delays. A Pediatric Perspective, 18(2) 1-5. Reprinted in The International Dyslexia Association, Perspectives, 37(3) 25-26.
For a complete listing of these "red flags", click here.
What should you do if your child is pegged with a red flag(s)? You should contact a pediatrician who specializes in child development and knows something about "at risk children". If a child that has developmental delays can obtain early intervention, there is a chance that future learning difficulties can be reduced or even prevented.
Many schools now offer screening when a child enters a pre-K program. A child's behavior such as a short attention span, can't write his name, or he lacks social-emotional skills are also signs that he may be at risk.
Getting intervention as soon as possible for an "at risk" child is crucial in their future reading success. Most states have an early intervention coordinator. Ask your local school district or child services. You can also search for "early intervention coordinator+your state."
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