This week is Learning Disability Week (20th-26th June) and an education expert has shared five pieces of advice on how to support children if they have learning disabilities.
Interestingly, research conducted by Oxford Home Schooling revealed that while overseeing their children’s learning during lockdown, many parents spotted potential signs of a learning difficulty.
Nearly half (47%) identified symptoms of dyslexia (difficulty reading, writing and spelling), whilst more than one in four (29%) observed possible indicators of dysgraphia (impaired handwriting or spelling). To help parents who now think their child may have a learning difficulty, Greg Smith, Head of Operations at Oxford Home Schooling, has put together a guide on how best to support your child and what your next steps should be.
1. Get your child diagnosed
If your child’s difficulties are having a significant impact on their learning, it’s a good idea to have them tested for a condition and diagnosed.
A diagnosis can open the door for your child to receive appropriate learning support in school. This includes allowing them extra time in exams and being supported by a teaching assistant, so it’s a good idea to look into this as early as possible.
If you’ve observed signs that your child may have a learning difficulty, you should speak to your GP, who can either make the diagnosis themselves, or refer the child for the appropriate tests.
2. Speak to your GP
Once a child is diagnosed with a learning difficulty, you should consult your GP. They will then be able to recommend and refer you to an appropriate specialist for support1.
Specialists can include speech and language therapists, educational and clinical psychologists and paediatricians, among others.
3. Make the school aware
Once you have an idea of the areas where your child is struggling, you will need to make their school and teachers aware of the situation.
This will allow the school to put extra support in place should your child require it. They will need time to consider how the condition might affect the child’s learning and work out how best to adapt their teaching.
4. Talk to others
Many parents find it difficult to process the diagnosis of a learning difficulty and it can be a challenge to adapt to your child’s new needs.
Don’t be afraid to seek out the support of other parents who have experienced similar situations. There are many support groups and forums out there for advice, and you and your child can even build new friendships.
5. Support your child
The important thing to remember is that you need to support your child, whether this is with their learning, or any other aspects of life that they struggle with.
Being diagnosed with a learning difficulty is by no means the end of the world and children with such conditions go on to enjoy rich and fulfilling lives. You will need to be patient, and it may be challenging at times, but with the correct support system in place your child will be fine.