Letters, numbers and more - what to do when your child struggles
Uncovering a child’s learning disability can bring mixed emotions—relief in identifying a cause of school struggles, eagerness to understand the diagnosis, and concern over what to do next. In Palm Beach County, there is help.
Two common learning disabilities identified in school-aged children are dyslexia and dyscalculia. However, each is distinctly different, says Dr. Jim Forgan, Ph.D., a private practice licensed school psychologist in Jupiter, FL.
“Dyslexia is a reading learning disability whereas dyscalculia is a math learning disability,” Forgan says.
Here are a few indicators that can differentiate the two:
- Trouble identifying letters
- Confusing similar letters like b & d
- Difficulty identifying sounds
- Reluctancy reading aloud
- Trouble identifying numbers
- Struggling to count up or down
- Problems memorizing basic math
- Difficulty learning types of money
While dyslexia and dyscalculia can coexist, it is not always the case, says Forgan. Dyslexia can also be more easily diagnosed in school-aged children than dyscalculia, because of the emphasis in the classroom placed on reading and writing - especially in the younger grades.
The first step for parents is to ensure there's open communication with your child's teacher. He or she may have insight into how best to get support, such as how to request a formal evaluation. You can see an overview of The Palm Beach County School District's Exceptional Student Education programs by clicking here. In the Palm Beach County school system, about 38,000 students are identified as (ESE) eligible.
Outside of school, parents can contact community organizations for help. Start by calling the 211 Helpline and ask for Help Me Grow, a program for parents and caregivers of children up to age 8 who have questions about their child's development.
The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County is another great resource.
“Reading is reading and any text is good text," says Literacy Coalition CEO Kristin Calder. "Let your child select what is of interest to them. Don’t worry if it’s too hard or too easy. Just celebrate the joy and learning that can come from reading.”
Forgan also suggests reading children’s books that explain learning disabilities to normalize a diagnosis like dyslexia or dyscalculia, and to print a list of successful people with these disabilities to let your child know they have a bright future ahead.
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