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How to Deal with Language-Based Learning Disabilities


How to Deal with Language-Based Learning Disabilities

Got a kid who's slow to talk or read? Language-based learning disabilities affect 15-20 percent of the population and are a commonly-discussed topic here on Circle of Moms, where moms frequently swap ideas for helping kids who struggle with writing, reading, speaking and spelling. Here we’ve rounded up some of their words of wisdom:

1. Learn the Difference between "Disorder" and "Delay"

A language-based learning disorder is not the same as a language delay. As Geralyn C. shares, a child with a language-based learning disorder processes information in a different way than others, and “requires direct 1:1 speech-language therapy by a highly qualified speech-language therapist.” Important to note: a language disorder does not indicate low intelligence. In fact, according the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASLHA) “most people diagnosed with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence.”

2. Watch for Common Signs

My eldest daughter has dyslexia,” shared Morag S. “I knew around 4 that she was. She never understood her letters, she'd get the alphabet all mixed up... anything that involved letters just eluded her completely.” If your preschooler is simply writing her letters backwards, Circle of Moms members stressed that you probably don’t have anything to worry about—memorizing letter shapes correctly takes some time. But watch for other common signs of language-based learning disabilities, including difficulties with expressing ideas with age-appropriate vocabulary, learning new vocabulary, properly pronouncing words, identifying which sounds and letters correspond, following directions, and telling left from right. (Note: The ASLHA website has a full list of common symptoms.)

3. Get Professionals Involved ASAP

Early intervention is the key,” emphasizes Sharalyn S. If you suspect your child has a language-based learning disorder, have a speech-language pathologist (SLP) evaluate her speaking, listening, reading, and writing abilities as soon as possible.

Similarly, Geralyn C. strongly suggested trying to identify the disorder before age seven: “The window for developing language is birth to 7 years. That is NOT to say that you cannot make a difference after 7 but I am a huge advocate for early intervention during those critical years.”

As Charlotte M. shared, an added benefit to early intervention is that you'll feel more in control: “I have found that getting an accurate diagnosis and developing a good therapy plan helped me to feel better about my daughters' numerous diagnoses. Information is power!”

4. Combine Therapy and At-Home Work

Circle of Moms members like Terra K., whose two boys both had language-based difficulties, encourage communicating with your child’s speech-language therapist about what they’re working on with your child: “If you and the teacher are on the same page, and she is getting constant reminders at both home and school, she will pick up on it much faster."

5. Be an Advocate for Your Child

You are your child’s best advocate. As Andrea D. counseled: “Remember to be proactive and not reactive when dealing with your child's education. Don't listen to teachers who have a wait-and-see attitude. You know your child, and you will be the best advocate. Also constantly let her know that people learn in different ways and no way is better than the other.”

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