Children’s academic performance can be negatively impacted by a wide variety of factors. For example, grades can be affected by low motivation, preoccupation with stressors, medical problems, the onset of anxiety or depression, developmental and attention problems, and other issues. However, sometimes academic progress is complicated by the presence of a learning disorder. Learning disorders involve a failure to learn to one’s potential, despite adequate educational opportunities, and include Reading Disorder, Math Disorder, and Disorder of Written Expression. Individuals may possess a learning disorder in one or more areas. Other developmental problems, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), expressive or receptive language disorders, or motor skill deficits, may also be present. Learning Disorders are not due to intellectual deficits. In fact, most people with Learning Disorders are of average or above average intelligence but have difficulty acquiring academic skills in specific areas. The diagnosis of Learning Disorders requires a comprehensive evaluation by a trained professional or team of professionals. Individuals with learning disorders most certainly can learn and improve their skills in affected areas but generally benefit from specialized instruction that targets problems. Early intervention is important but even previously undiagnosed adolescents and adults can benefit from assessment and recommendations for addressing and coping with their academic skill challenges.
If you are concerned about your child’s academic progress or you sense that they are becoming frustrated or avoidant of academic tasks, discuss your concerns with his or her teacher and pediatrician and/or request an appointment with a qualified psychologist.
Learning problems can be addressed in school through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. An IEP is appropriate for children who have intellectual deficits or learning disorders requiring special education services. Children with other problems, such as ADHD, chronic health problems, anxiety/depression, pervasive developmental disorders, or motor skills deficits, may qualify for a 504 Plan to decrease the impact of their challenges upon their education. Further information can be found at web sites listed below.
- Dyslexia/Dysgraphia: The International Dyslexia Association
- General Information on Learning Disorders: National Center for Learning Disabilities
- IEP: National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
- LD Online
- 504 Plans: Great Schools