The unknown is sometimes scary - it's when our anxiety loves to rear its head and overshadow our desire to explore further.
When parents start realising that their child (or children) might display a learning difficulty, they often start to push it aside and find justifications as to 'why' their child might be struggling - 'she's had a bad week', 'she doesn't gel with her teacher', 'she's bad at maths like I am', 'she just needs to find her strengths'. But when it starts to become more visible, the learning gaps starts to widen, and they know that they can no longer keep pushing it aside, the next thought becomes even scarier; "what do I do about it?"
For many parents it's this unknown that holds them back from getting the right help for their child. With so many options out there and avenues to venture down, they can often find themselves looking down the proverbial 'rabbit hole'.
First step is: talk to your school or family GP. From there, they'll be able to guide you through the best options and path moving forward.
you'll be asked to take them (with a referral) to a psychologist or paediatrician so that they can perform psychometric assessments and checklists in order to determine if there is a learning difficulty present. Don't be scared - this is a good thing! Having a diagnosis allows you to know HOW to help your child. Read my next blog to understand the assessment process better.
your child will usually be assessed to determine their intelligence (IQ test) using one of a number of assessments - the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is a common one used and takes about 2 hours to administer.
they will then test whether your child is reaching their potential using an academic achievement test (another 2 hour test) - the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT) is used when comparing against the WISC. This assesses their academic strengths and weaknesses and determines if there's a learning block going on. If a child is reaching their potential, then there usually isn't a learning difficulty taking place - and different assessments will ensue.
Based on the information resulting from the assessment, a psychologist will be able to determine what type of specialised learning difficulty (SLD) your child has, if any at all. These may range from dyslexia, Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADHD/ADD), Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), dysgraphia, dyscalculia, Language Processing Disorder (LPD), or visual perceptual/visual motor deficit.
Now you can start your journey in giving your child the tools to combat their learning difficulty.
Something to note is that underlying most of these learning difficulties is a poor-functioning working memory. Sometimes, it can just be their working memory that is failing them, and not a learning difficulty at all, or a combination of both (ADHD is directly linked to a poor working memory, amongst other behavioural and cognitive issues that ADHD entails). Check out my blog titled "What does a poor working memory look like?" to help you better understand the importance of a high-functioning working memory when it comes to not just learning, but successfully completing every day activities and routines at school and at home.
At Elevated Learning I can help guide you and your family in knowing where to go for specialist help when diagnosing and supporting specialised learning difficulties. I am a current part-time primary school teacher and work closely with children diagnosed with a variety of learning difficulties. I am also qualified at administering academic achievement tests to see if your child is reaching their potential which can then be taken to psychologists to make a diagnosis (we are considerably cheaper than psychologists and don't have the same waiting periods). Additionally, I am a qualified coach in delivering Working Memory Training with the program Cogmed.
As a teacher-professional working directly in the classroom with over 10 years experience, I am able to provide recommendations on how your child's classroom teacher can help them in the classroom using specific adjustments unique to your child's learning difficulty and can provide you with some learning goals towards being successful in their academic learning journey.
I would love to hear from you and find out how I can help your child be successful and find their LOVE of learning. Get in touch.
Photo credit: https://www.challenginglearning.com/learning-pit/
James Nottingham created the Learning Pit as an everyday version of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (1978).