Posts Tagged ‘bad behavior at school’

PostHeaderIcon When Your Child Needs a Learning Evaluation

When Your Child Needs a Learning Evaluation

Tina Feigal  Copyright © 2018 Anu Family Services/Center for the Challenging Child

I hear a lot about children struggling with learning in school, and, as a former school psychologist, I’m always anxious to help parents sort out the details and strategies to give their kids the help they need.

Here are some questions I ask that you might consider:

  1. Does your child have unidentified sensory issues that stand in the way of her learning?  Is the lighting in the room glaring to the point that it takes up all your child’s attention?  If she has sensitivity to fluorescent light, it’s like a strobe going off in the room.  If she is sensitive to sound, it’s like bombs dropping all day long.  If she has tactile issues, she feels so uncomfortable with her shirt tag, that she is distracted from what the teacher is saying. Or maybe someone touched her unexpectedly, and it’s taking a long time to recover.  These are all real neurological symptoms and they can be helped.  Occupational therapists do evaluations for sensory issues, and can intervene so that children can settle in and learn.
  2. Does your child lag behind his peers in reading or math?  Do you see consistent frustration and lack of self-esteem during homework time in one of these areas, or both? You have the right to ask for an evaluation from the school if you notice that, despite your efforts to help, not much progress is being made. It could be a Specific Learning Disability in reading or math (dyslexia or dyscalculia). Special education supports these kids.
  3. Does your child struggle with writing (dysgraphia)? If holding a pencil properly and forming letters and numbers is painful for your child, the school has Occupational Therapists who can help with these issues. Alternatives like keyboards can really help, and the OT can advocate for your child to provide either interactive or electronic assistance.
  4. Does she hate to go to school? Having a sensory or learning issue can cause a child to hate school, as she spends the whole day watching others do their work with relative ease, and feels like a constant failure.  Maybe a teacher tries to build her up, but if she doesn’t get the real help she needs, it won’t have a lasting effect. The other kids may call attention to her struggles, which only compounds the problem and makes her desire for school that much less.
  5. Is your child experiencing emotional/behavioral challenges that get in the way of his learning?  There are services for this, too.  If your child has issues with getting along with others, complying with educational  directives, tantrums over small things, or physical fighting, ask for help
  6. Are you exhausted from the demands of homework? If so, you may want to explore a 504 plan if your child has ADHD, anxiety disorder, low vision or hearing, or another health situation that interferes with homework and peace at home.  Reduced assignments can help a lot (if the child gets the math concept, no need to solve 100 problems).  Many other accommodations also exist to help your child, such as seating arrangements, taking tests outside the classroom, fewer test questions, and more time to finish work.Our schools are often not seeing the struggles children exhibit because parents haven’t asked for help.  If you realize that your child may be in this situation, do not hesitate to advocate for her. This may be new territory for you, and it might feel strange to think of your child as needing help, but don’t let your own feelings get in the way of assistance for your child’s learning needs.

    You have the legal right to request a team to evaluate your child at any age. A pre-testing team may meet to see if there’s a solution that isn’t full-blown testing and diagnosis of a problem that leads to special education.  If that has happened and you’re still seeing struggles, let the teacher know, so he or she can act on the information.The whole field of special education for learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral blocks to learning was created as a result of parents’ advocacy for their children.  You can be the drivers of the process for getting your child the needed help.

If you would like coaching for this or any other parenting issue, click here.