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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Worried Your Child May Have a Learning Disability?

By Guest Blogger Ann U

Sometimes trying to figure out if your child is on track for learning is difficult. Are they really having trouble learning the alphabet or are they just taking a little more time than the child next door? Or if they are a bit older, are they resisting reading because it is truly hard for them or do they really just prefer playing baseball?

Learning disabilities are prevalent in our society but many still don’t understand what they are or how to diagnose them. In fact, learning disabilities affect 10-20% of the population and cut across every segment of society.

If you have any concerns about your child, you should talk with your pediatrician since early detection and intervention are crucial. Approximately 30% of children are significantly delayed in reading by the time they enter the fourth grade and three-quarters of these poor readers never successfully close the reading achievement gap. Yet research documents that with intensive, appropriate instruction and early intervention, 95% of these reading impaired children can overcome their reading difficulties!

Having a learning disability doesn’t mean your child isn’t intelligent. In fact, many have average or above average intelligence. And recent studies have discovered that a third of all entrepreneurs are dyslexic, including such well-known and successful people as Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways, Charles R. Schwab, founder of the discount brokerage firm that bears his name, and Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s copy chain.

There are lots of other famous individuals who overcame learning disabilities, including people like Agatha Christie, Magic Johnson, Leonardo Da Vinci, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney and McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey, to name just a few.

If you child is diagnosed with a learning disability there are several great private schools in the area that can help:

Winston-Salem: Triad Academy is located at 905 Friedberg Church Road. They are holding an Admissions Open House on Thursday, February 12, 2009 from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. For more info call 336-775-4900 or visit

High Point: The Piedmont School is located at 815 Old Mill Road. For more info call 883-0992 or visit

Greensboro: Guilford Day School is located at 3310 Horse Pen Creek Road. For more info call 282-7044 or visit

Do you have advice you can share for parents of children with learning disabilities? If so, please share in the comments section below.

And don't forget to enter for your chance to win a family 4-pack to Hawksnest. Remember: This promotion is offered only to our Smarty newsletter subscribers. So if you haven't signed up for the newsletter, do it now!

This giveaway ends Wednesday, February 11 at 5 pm. It's a short promotion because we know this cold weather won't stick around for long.
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Annemarie said...

When my oldest son was in 1st grade I started to notice that he was not progressing with his reading. He was young in his grade and the teachers felt he may need to mature a little more in order for his reading to improve. I started to notice his self confidence diminish and he became frustrated very easily. Half way through the year he started to tell me that "he was not like the other students" and that reading was so much harder for him. At that point I new something was not right. He was also complaining of words blurring and would rub his eyes often. I took him to the eye doctor and his eye sight was fine. During his 1st grade year he was also getting in trouble and becoming off task more than usually. This too was thought to be due to his immaturity.
In April of that year I took him to an Educational Therapist and he was diagnosed with dyslexia but she also thought something may be wrong with his eyes because of a poor score on one of the tests. I took him to a Developmental Optometrist who diagnoses him with Convergence Insufficiency. This diagnoses explained his blurred vision, headaches and even his poor attentiveness at school. His eye muscles lacked strength and coordination and therefore they would fatigue under stress. So at school once his eyes got tired he would lose attention because he simply could not see well.
I have been told about 25% of kids with dyslexia may have trouble with their vision. I was also told that some kids with convergence insufficiency are misdiagnosed as ADD. After about 1 year in vision therapy his eyes became stronger and worked together better. Even though he is still dyslexic he is doing so much better know that his eyes are stronger. His confidence also greatly improved.
I have also found a vision therapist in W-S that has been a great help. Thanks to all of his teachers and therapist for their help.

Katie M said...

Thanks for your post, Annemarie!

Anonymous said...

In the public schools, each school is assigned a school psychologist. They can provide guidance when you have concerns about the presence of a learning disability or other developmental delay.

Anonymous said...

In 1st grade my daughter was coming home from school and homework was taking anywhere from 2-4 hours, and that was before pleasure reading, which was anything but. . . In addition, she’d come home from school saying she was stupid and on some occasions even said she felt like 'trash'.
After my parent-teacher conference in the fall of her first grade year I started feeling alarmed by the disconnect between how my perception and the teachers perception of what was happening. My daughter was having real physical complaints because of her stress level, stomach cramps and chronic constipation. And thought she started testing for speech in early December, I didn't get an IEP until late March of her 1st grade year. Even then the school refused to even consider testing her for reading disabilities until her 3rd grade year. In my opinion that is way too late.
I went ahead and had her tested independently on the advice of the physiologist we were seeing by then. I forwarded the paperwork to her school; it was just after school had ended for the year. It took me a month to get a call back from the principal and then she said “just because my daughter was diagnosed with a reading disability didn't mean it was necessarily dyslexia, since it was such a broad amorphous categorization”.
My daughter did not go back to school there the next year. Luckily we found Triad Academy and though it’s taken a good part of this year for her to recover her self-confidence, it’s made a world of difference.

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