Learning disabilities have no cure, but early intervention can lessen their effects. People with learning disabilities can develop ways to cope with their disabilities. Getting help earlier increases the chance of success in school and later in life. If learning disabilities remain untreated, a child may begin to feel frustrated, which can lead to low self-esteem and other problems.1
Experts can help a child learn skills by building on the child’s strengths and finding ways to compensate for the child’s weaknesses.2 Interventions vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability.
Learn tips for managing a learning disability in adulthood.
Children diagnosed with learning disabilities can receive special education services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools provide free special education supports to children with disabilities.3
In most states, each child is entitled to these services beginning at age 3 years and extending through high school or until age 21, whichever comes first. The rules of IDEA for each state are available from the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.
IDEA requires that children be taught in the least restrictive environment appropriate for them. This means the teaching environment should meet a child’s needs and skills while minimizing restrictions to typical learning experiences.
Children who qualify for special education services will receive an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. This personalized and written education plan4:
- Lists goals for the child
- Specifies the services the child will receive
- Lists the specialists who will work with the child
To qualify for special education services, a child must be evaluated by the school system and meet federal and state guidelines. Parents and caregivers can contact their school principal or special education coordinator to find out how to have their child evaluated. Parents can also review these resources:
Below are just a few of the ways schools help children with specific learning disabilities.
- Intensive teaching techniques. These can include specific, step-by-step, and very methodical approaches to teaching reading with the goal of improving both spoken language and written language skills. These techniques are generally more intensive in terms of how often they occur and how long they last and often involve small group or one-on-one instruction.6
- Classroom modifications. Teachers can give students with dyslexia extra time to finish tasks and provide taped tests that allow the child to hear the questions instead of reading them.
- Use of technology. Children with dyslexia may benefit from listening to audio books or using word-processing programs.
- Special tools. Teachers can offer oral exams, provide a note-taker, or allow the child to videotape reports instead of writing them. Computer software can facilitate children being able to produce written text.
- Use of technology. A child with dysgraphia can be taught to use word-processing programs, including those incorporating speech-to-text translation, or an audio recorder instead of writing by hand.
- Reducing the need for writing. Teachers can provide notes, outlines, and preprinted study sheets.
- Visual techniques. Teachers can draw pictures of word problems and show the student how to use colored pencils to differentiate parts of problems.
- Memory aids. Rhymes and music can help a child remember math concepts.
Computers. A child with dyscalculia can use a computer for drills and practice.
- Learning Disabilities Association of America. (2018). New to LD. Retrieved August 24, 2018, from https://ldaamerica.org/support/new-to-ld/
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). Learning disabilities information page. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Learning-Disabilities-Information-Page
- U.S. Department of Education. (2018). About IDEA. Retrieved August 24, 2018, from https://sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea/
- Center for Parent Information and Resources. (2017). The short-and-sweet IEP overview. Retrieved August 24, 2018, from https://www.parentcenterhub.org/iep-overview/
- International Dyslexia Association. (n.d.). Dyslexia basics. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-basics/
- Understood.org. (n.d.). Treatment for kids with dyslexia. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/treatments-approaches/treatment-options/treatment-for-kids-with-dyslexia
- Learning Disabilities Association of America. (n.d.). Types of learning disabilities. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/