Sometimes our children experience problems with reading because there is a bigger learning or vision issue. Here are the red flags and signs to watch for to decide if you need further evaluation, and a bit about my own story.
Denial Doesn’t Work (Damn It!)
When JJ had her first seizure, and it was 40 minutes from the time I found her and the time it ended. The neurologist told us it was most likely a one-time thing. That’s exactly what I wanted to believe, so I did.
When she had her second seizure, just as long, and he told us she could be brain damaged if we didn’t catch them and stop them. Rather than face the reality, I tried to not think about it.
Eventually, I had to face reality and a diagnosis of –gasp — a LABEL: epilepsy, plus medication and constant vigilance.
As it turns out, denial doesn’t make anything go away.
Signs of Reading Problems
I share this because I need you to hear me on this.We must not pressure our kids to read, but we also must recognize when there are signs of an actual problem.
The harsh reality is that denying the truth that your child may have a learning issue, won’t help your child — the sooner you get answers and help, the better for your child. Denial doesn’t make it go away. Sorry. I’ve tried it. Doesn’t work. (You’re welcome. That’ll save you $$ for therapy.)
I’m not a specialist but here’s what I can tell you . . .
Learning Disability (LD) Red Flags
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, signs of LD are:
• spelling the same word differently in a single document
• reluctant reading or writing
• trouble answering open-ended questions
• weak memory skills
• slow work pace
• frequent misreading of information
• easily confused by instructions
• poor organizational skills
If you’re noticing, or your child’s teacher notices, that information isn’t “sticking” as in the case with some of the above red flags, it’s absolutely worth it to get more information. And by more information, I mean testing. Especially if your child is behind in school. Most of us, me included, like to keep on our rose-colored glasses as long as possible. But, you know as well as I do that head-in-the-sand thinking won’t help our kids.
Here’s some interesting statistics about how uninformed we are about LD (learning disabilities) in general.
Vision Red Flags
One year, I had a fifth grader that worried me more each day. He seemed spacey, like he wasn’t all there. He didn’t seem to understand what was going on at all despite doing fine academically in previous years. Finally, I had a meeting with his parents and the Special Ed team expressing my concerns of a serious learning problem. I was really worried! His dad asked, “Do you think I should make him wear his glasses?” I could have wrung the guy’s neck.!!! How many weeks did this child spend in my classroom totally unable to see? It was an easy fix — all he needed were his glasses.
If you’re wondering if your child has a vision issue, here are some red flags:
• eye rubbing
• burning, itching, watery eyes
• trouble reading words he already knows
• losing place while reading
• saying that the words look blurry
• bumping into things
Get this: vision screenings will NOT catch vision issues that interfere with learning such as tracking left to right. You need a comprehensive vision exam.
For vision, you will need to go to your own optometrist. However, for learning issues, you are legally entitled to request an evaluation of your child under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from your school. However, that doesn’t always mean the school will comply with your request. I’ve heard lots of stories about parents who have to fight for evaluations, or get their own independent assessments done. (Expensive!!) Ask your pediatrician should be able to help with assessment recommendations.
Are you seeing these red flags?
If you’re a parent who has experienced this, will you comment and share your story? It always helps others to know someone has gone through this before them.
We learn from each other. We can support each other through this.