When a student has learning or adaptation difficulties at school, he also experiences difficulties at home. How to act in these situations?
How to detect learning difficulties?
The teacher is usually the first to report a problem, but the parent can be the one to initiate the screening process that could make all the difference.
Whatever the type of difficulty, the student who is detected earlier is more likely to receive services tailored to him and thus avoid repeated failures that could lead him more or less directly to dropout. The young person who drops out of high school one day does not do so suddenly: he may never have "hooked" the school system. The screening will allow us to draw the overall picture of the child, to know his strengths, to understand his difficulties and to propose solutions.
Signs of stress related to learning difficulties:
- stomach aches before going to school;
- difficulty falling asleep;
- loss of appetite;
- aggressive, impulsive or inhibited behavior;
- frequent crises;
- sad, worried speech;
- communication difficulties.
In fact, what is important to observe here are behaviors that your child is not used to showing. It is certain that starting school can cause small imbalances, but when these discomforts become more important, you have to ask yourself questions.
Could developmental issues be a cause of learning difficulties?
- language, memory, hearing, vision problems;
- difficulty concentrating, paying attention, fine or gross motor skills.
These issues are harder to spot, especially if your child is an elder and you don't have a benchmark. We are not asking you to make a diagnosis and there is no question of panicking! The important thing is to take the time to observe your child, to look at him, to communicate with him to get to know him better.
Learning difficulties and disabilities: what exactly are they?
You should know that there is a difference between learning "difficulties" and learning "disabilities".
Learning difficulties can be temporary and are not related to a child's intelligence. They are manifested by a delay, a punctual imbalance in learning:
- concentration problems (distracted, moody);
- difficulties in reading, writing, math;
- behavioral issues(aggressiveness, sadness)
Learning difficulties are often related to different factors: moving, divorce, death or illness of a parent, difficult relationships with the family or with the teacher, immaturity (school drop-out), absenteeism, method of teaching, etc.
If we identify students with learning difficulties early enough, we can intervene quickly without serious consequences. But if we do not act quickly, the failures will accumulate and the young person will lose his motivation and his self-confidence; he will then develop behavioral and adaptation problems with significant delays that will exclude him from the regular school program.
Learning disabilities are also not related to a child's intelligence, but are usually permanent. They are caused by a set of persistent difficulties in one or more processes necessary for development and a deficiency in the processing of information. These disorders manifest themselves at the level of:
- attention, memory, reasoning;
- coordination, communication, ability to read and write;
- conceptualization, sociability and emotional maturity.
Here are some examples of disorders diagnosed in elementary school students: hyperactivity, dyslexia, dysorthographia, attention deficit disorder. These pupils will only be able to follow a regular and adapted school program if they aredetected very early. This is why it is important to ask about the services to which you are en titled in order to establish a personalized intervention plan for your child.
What to do if you suspect your child has learning difficulties?
Encourage your child
If your child is experiencing difficulties, he especially needs to be accompanied and supported. If he's failing, take the time to listen to him.
Example: When Xavier was in Grade 1, he preferred playing hockey and running to stopping to read. He told us that his body was better than his intelligence and he had even managed to convince us that he would always be a "pocket" in reading. We encouraged him to play hockey more often; he became good at something, and when his teacher offered to do some research on the history of hockey, he happily displayed what it took to read and write!
To confide in someone
Talking to your spouse or someone who knows your child and your family well will allow you to verify your observations and clarify the different circumstances in which worrying behavior occurs.
A visit to the doctor
Have your child's physical check-up done. Ask all the questions relating to his physical development: hearing, vision, reflexes and motor skills. Write down the questions that bother you so that you don't forget them during the visit to thedoctor.
A meeting with the teacher
Request a meeting with the teacher as soon as possible. If it is difficult in the short term, a telephone interview could reassure you. But do not remain in doubt. The teacher needs your cooperation if your child is having difficulty. He will already be able to suggest ways to help him at home and request the necessary resources more quickly to carry out a complete evaluation.
A meeting with the director
If you feel that your child needs special help, the director should be more available to talk to you about the different services offered at the school. It is also his duty to assist you in your approach. Let him know your concerns and assure him of your cooperation.
A meeting with the school committee
The school committee is made up of parents of students from the school. The school committee has decision-making power. If you do not get answers to your questions, these parents are able to offer you solutions. In my practice, I have helped parents who had problems obtaining the collaboration of the teacher and even the collaboration of the school. This scenario is unfortunately more frequent than we imagine, the system is full of pitfalls; it's about your child's education and their future.
Parents, know your rights
The TA Institute works with families of children and adults with disabilitiesof learning. It informs parents, guides their steps and provides them with the necessary support. The Association offers parents a guide en titled Obtaining services at school.
Answers to the most common questions asked by parents who have a child who has learning difficulties:
My son has repeated school failures, he is said to be smart, but lazy and unmotivated, can he have learning disabilities?
Repeated school failures can be indicative of learning disabilities. Young people with these disorders are often referred to as lazy because they may perform well in some subjects and fail in others. A thorough assessment of the difficulties is necessary.
Could the child's family or social background be the cause of his learning disabilities?
Neither the family nor the social environment are the causes of learning disabilities. These are intrinsic to the child. However, the same difficulties can be found in one of the parents or in a family member.
Which professionals are qualified to assess and diagnose learning disabilities?
These are qualified professionals, school psychologists, remedial teachers, speech therapists, neuropsychologists, pediatricians or psychiatrists. A multidisciplinary team is ideal for undertaking this process.
Do my child's difficulties have to be assessed by the school?
Yes. The school board has the obligation to evaluate the student, and the school has the obligation to establish the personalized intervention plan (P. I. P.). You must find out the date on which the evaluation and the establishment of your child's plan will take place in order to participate in these meetings.
What should I know before consulting a professional in a private clinic to assess and diagnose my child's learning disabilities?
You must make sure that the professional you consult is familiar with learning disabilities. Also ask school officials if they will take this assessment into account. Will the school cover the costs? Are these costs covered by your insurance?
The school advises me to give my child Ritalin. What should I do?
Even if the school makes this recommendation, the parent remains free to accept medication or not for their child. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that Ritalin must be prescribed by a doctor and that regular monitoring must be done by the latter, whether he is a pediatrician, psychiatrist or neurologist.
Does repetition help my child's learning at school?
Research and analyzes on the application of such a measure show significant negative effects that later result in students dropping out or dropping out of school.
The school offers me to place my child in a DGA class (serious difficultieslearning). Can I refuse this orientation?
Yes, you can refuse this orientation if you feel that the services offered in this class do not meet your child's needs. However, consult with the principal and teacher first, as this orientation may prove beneficial and this class may offer excellent responsive services. In any case, inform yourself adequately before signing the transfer of your child.
What should I know about the personalized intervention plan? Is it mandatory when a student has social maladjustment or learning difficulties?
Yes, the personalized intervention plan (P. I. P.) is mandatory for students with adjustment or learning difficulties. The IPP prescribes and oversees all the services that the student will receive during a given period.
The school says they don't have the financial resources to provide services for my child who has a learning disability. Who do I ask for help?
It is up to you, under these conditions, to represent your child and to contact the school board, which must have the necessary budgets. Here, on this subject, is an excerpt from the Education Act: "The school board must adapt the educational services to the handicapped student or student with learning difficulties according to his needs according to the evaluation that he must to do so according to the terms and conditions established pursuant to subparagraph 1 of the second paragraph of section 235”.
To getthis guide and more information, contact The TA Institute.
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