How to find out if your child has special needs or a learning disability

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A sudden outburst of an unruly child will be sure to get you the “don’t you let your child know who’s boss?” stare from strangers. As a parent, you quickly find out that certain children will express how they feel whenever and wherever they want regardless of how many times you remind them that it is inappropriate.

Keep in mind that may be a sign of something deeper, such as a special need.

“Some kids cannot bear loud voices or noise” / Photo: Shutterstock

Is your kid’s behavior a reflection of you?

Have you failed as a parent? Are you a horrible parent? Have you spoiled your child to a point of no return? The answers are all “no.” Children will be children, and I am sure that you have heard this over and over again. Of course, we can talk to them until we are blue in the face but sometimes the issue may be deeper.

Sometimes, we become frustrated with our kids, and think that our child is being disobedient on purpose and being stubborn, when that may not be the case.

When the child enters school you may get repeated notes giving you the run down of his or her day- he isn’t focused- well, that it is too broad for me as a parent.

What is the child actually doing? I ask myself this as a parent and an educator.

  • He/she is hitting his peers. Why is he/she hitting his peers, what happened to lead to this incident?
  • He isn’t sitting nicely on the carpet? Well did you ever think maybe that carpet is just too hard for him/her to sit on, consider the fact that maybe the child has sensory issues, and that may be leading to him/her to hit his/her peers out of frustration, and when none is understanding this leads to a lash out.

Many educators take this as a sign that a child is voluntarily misbehaving and placing more attention on the behavior just makes the child react in an even stronger way. Throughout the years I have seen many teachers begin diagnosing kids with ADHD or any other special need, without really knowing if it is the case. This is where your child’s best advocate needs to step in: you!

Parents, when confronted with situations described above:

  • Consider the teacher that your child has. Maybe that teacher and your child don’t click. Of course children need to become accustomed to different personalities, but if you know how your child functions best, share that with the teacher.

Some children don’t like a louder voice, which may reflect other ingrained issues in the kid. As a teacher, I know by this time of year which of my students cannot tolerate that louder tone and I am mindful of it. As a teacher you must learn to pick and choose your battles and know that in order to get respect we must respect our young students as well.

Misbehavior may be a sign of something deeper / Photo: Shutterstock

  • Reach out to your child’s teacher and the school for anything. Always ask the school for possible recommendations for outside or in-school testing, whether it be for something like speech or cognition disabilities. The school-based support team should be able to provide that to you, as well as your child’s pediatrician.
  • Seek outside resources if your child seems to be having difficulty focusing at school, take the initiative and discuss it with outside sources. Sometimes children can benefit from extracurricular activities or play therapy. Other examinations whether it be for hearing, sight, neurological issues, or even a speech and language pathologist assessment may be in order.

These are great ideas to consider especially facing challenges with your child that may lead to extra stress for you and your child. A friend may be going through a similar situation; so talk it out with a friend, that always helps.

I am a teacher, and I also have a child with special needs

As a parent of a child with special needs – Asperger’s syndrome – I make sure that I stay in touch with all of the teachers who are in touch with my son. I want to know how he is doing and how I can make that school-home connection smoother for him.

I know that my son is a smart boy. He will be faced with stares due to his behavior at times, and onlooking strangers may assume that I have not shown him who is boss. I know that he  will grow to be a well rounded young man because he has me as his advocate. I will be sure that he gets what he needs to face the world that is waiting for him and I encourage all parents to do the same.

What steps will you take to make sure that your child is in the proper school setting?

Additional resources:

www.healthy.ny.gov (Department of health)

www.Advocatesforchildren.org

www.Asperger-Advice.com

www.Sensory-processing-disorder.com

American speech language hearing association 

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