Learning Disabilities and Your Child: An Age-by-Age Guide

Updated: May 15, 2019
Find out how to cope with your child's learning disabilities as she grows.
Table of contents

In this article, you will find:

The Early Years

Learning Disabilities and Your Child: An Age-by-Age Guide

"Although my son walked at the appropriate age and reached other milestones at the right time, I felt that something was not quite right," says Yvette Moran, parent. "His social skills were lacking around other kids. We observed him carefully for a period of time and at age two and a half he was diagnosed with a learning disability." No one knows your child like you do. Trust your instincts and observations. If something "just seems wrong" and your child displays several of the following problems consistently, you might want to consider the existence of a learning disability.

  • Problems with following routines or directions
  • Fine motor skills slow to develop
  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Speaks later than peers
  • Problems with pronunciation
  • Problems with vocabulary, trouble finding the right word
  • Extremely restless and distracted easily
  • Trouble with social skills
  • Trouble learning colors, shapes, days of week, numbers, alphabet
A full evaluation by trained professionals is the next step in helping your child. Your pediatrician can refer you to a number of specialists trained in the area of difficulty. Working with a team of professionals and joining with other parents can provide your family with a valuable support system.

The Elementary Years

"When my son started kindergarten I noticed that he had problems with coordination when performing simple tasks such as tying his shoes or combing his hair," says Carol McGaffigan. "We worked consistently with him for many years. The hard work paid off with some terrific dividends. Our son developed a photographic memory that amazed his teachers." Coordination problems can be a warning sign of a learning disability. If your child exhibits several of the following characteristics over a long period of time, you might want to have her tested.

  • Unstable pencil grip
  • Trouble learning about time
  • Difficulty remembering facts
  • Confuses basic words (dog, cat, run)
  • Difficulty learning new skills, relying on memorization
  • Poor coordination, "accident prone", unaware of physical surroundings
  • Difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds
  • Spelling and reading errors such as substitutions (house/home), letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w) and transpositions (felt/left).
  • Problems with planning, impulsive
  • Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (x,/,=/+/-)
Speak with your child's teacher and arrange for a comprehensive evaluation of your child's difficulties. This will enable you and a group of professionals to correctly assess areas of strengths and weaknesses, and thus decide upon the best course of action to help your child. Offering constant support to your child is your best strategy.