People with learning disabilities and disorders can learn strategies for coping with their disabilities. Getting help earlier increases the likelihood for success in school and later in life. If learning disabilities remain untreated, a child may begin to feel frustrated with schoolwork, which can lead to low self-esteem, depression, and other problems.1
Usually, experts work to help a child learn skills by building on the child’s strengths and developing ways to compensate for the child’s weaknesses.2 Interventions vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability.
Children diagnosed with learning and other disabilities can qualify for special educational services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) requires that the public school system provide free special education supports to children with disabilities.3
In most states, each child is entitled to these services beginning when he or she is 3 years old and extending through high school or until age 21, whichever comes first. The specific rules of IDEA for each state are available from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.
IDEA states that children must be taught in the least restrictive environments appropriate for them. This means the teaching environment should be designed to meet a child’s specific needs and skills and should minimize restrictions on the youngster’s access to typical learning experiences.
A child who qualifies for special education services should receive his or her own Individualized Education Program, or IEP. This personalized and written education plan4:
To qualify for special education services, a child must be evaluated by the school system and meet specific criteria outlined in federal and state guidelines. To learn how to have a child assessed for special services, parents and caregivers can contact a local school principal or special education coordinator. Parents can also visit these Web resources:
Below are just a few examples of ways educators help children with specific learning disabilities.
A child with a learning disability may struggle with low self-esteem, frustration, and other problems. Mental health professionals can help the youngster understand these feelings, develop coping tools, and build healthy relationships.
Children with learning disabilities sometimes have other conditions such as ADHD. These conditions require their own treatments, which may include therapy and medications.
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