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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : I am concerned that my child has a learning disability. How would you suggest that I proceed to determine if he does?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Henry H. Bernstein, D.O., is a senior lecturer in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In addition, he is chief of General Academic Pediatrics at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School. He is the former associate chief of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital Boston.

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January 07, 2011
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A:

There are a few steps you can take. You might:

  • Discuss how your child is doing in school with his teacher.
  • Ask your child’s pediatrician how your child is developing.
  • Consider an educational evaluation.
  • Think about having a full medical evaluation by the pediatrician.
  • Be sure your child’s hearing and vision are normal.

Many children are diagnosed with a learning disability. Remember that:

  • Your child is not alone
    More than 2.5 million children ages 6 to 11 have learning disabilities in the United States.
  • It is not your fault
    Most people with a learning disability are born with it. They have some differences in how their brain works.
  • Learning disabilities tend to run in families
    They affect more boys than girls.
  • Learning disabilities take on many forms
    They can change over time. Children with learning disabilities have more trouble than their classmates with one or more of these skills:
    • Reading
    • Spelling
    • Writing
    • Solving math problems
    • Listening
    • Speaking
    • Reasoning
    • Concentrating
    • Understanding
  • You can create a learning plan just for your child
  • Support should be available in your community
  • Stay hopeful
    Most children (and families) make lots of progress and are very successful, especially with proper support and programming.

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