I'm reluctant to let her be labeled LD. Am I correct in thinking that her problems are related to the transition to the public-school system? Can you suggest who to go to for a private evaluation? Also, what would you suggest as a resource for tutoring designed to get her back on track?
The good news is that we have much better tools available to identify young children who may have learning disabilities. If you call the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities at 1-888-GR8-MIND or visit their website at LD Online you can receive an excellent free handbook called Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, and Resources. In the handbook you'll find a list of some of the most common characteristics of a learning disability in young children. If parents, teachers, and other professionals discover a child's learning disability early and provide the right kind of help, these children can go on to have successful academic skills. In fact, a recent National Institutes of Health study showed that 67 percent of young kids who were at risk for reading problems became average or above-average readers if they received help in the early grades.
Here are some of the most common signs of a learning disability:
· Speaking later than most children
· Pronunciation problems
· Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the "right" word when speaking
· Difficulty rhyming words
· Trouble learning numbers, alphabet, days of the week, colors, shapes
· Extremely restless and easily distracted
· Trouble interacting with peers
· Difficulty following directions or routines
· Fine motor skills slow to develop
· Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
· Confuses basic words (e.g., run, eat, want)
· Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (was/saw), and substitutions (house/home)
If you or your daughter's teacher note more than one or two of these common signs of a learning disability over a long period of time, I would certainly seek an evaluation by an experienced professional. The Coordinated Campaign can direct you to local referral sources for an evaluation or you can speak to your school's guidance counselor or psychologist to make a referral. They can also help you locate a qualified tutor who can help your child outside of school if you like. The Learning Disabilities Association of America (1-888-300-6710) or the International Dyslexia Association (1-800-ABCD123) are also excellent sources for referrals.
There are also many things you can do at home to help your child. I would suggest getting the book Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats. These authors provide a wealth of ideas about ways you can support your child's academic growth and development now.