With kids back in school, a Playa Vista educational therapist has some advice
Story By Dr. Bibi Pirayesh | Photo by Maria Martin
In my practice as an educational therapist I often get parents wondering if their child is in need of testing. While parents may be wary of a culture of over-testing diagnosis, avoiding necessary testing can have detrimental effects for children who need help. Below are seven signs parents can look for if they feel their child is not quite where they need to be in terms of their academics.
• Early delays in hitting developmental milestones. The brain develops in layers. Many of the skills children are expected to learn in school (such as reading) organize on top of skills that should have developed long before school (such as language). If your child experienced delays in motor or language development in their first three years, and you now see them struggle in school, it might be worth taking
a closer look.
• Trauma in the early years. Many people think of trauma as extreme events. The fact is a simple ear infection can result in the types of auditory delays that hinder reading later on. Look back into your child’s early history to see if there may have been events that relate to current struggles.
• A history of learning difficulties in the family. Research does not support a purely genetic basis for learning disabilities, but difficulties like ADHD and dyslexia can “run in the family.” Parents sometimes report having the same struggles as their child (revisiting their own pain can prevent them from diving deeper into their child’s struggles).
• Homework time is a nightmare. Some of the students I see manage to get good grades in school, but those grades come at a high price. Homework should never feel so challenging that it results in fights, meltdowns, or hours of work and distress. Always check with teachers to see how long assigned homework is expected to take.
• You think your child is just lazy. Cognitive weaknesses can cause children to completely disconnect from school. In fact apathy, or laziness, is often a sure sign children are overwhelmed. Kids with intact learning skills enjoy learning. When learning itself is a chore, kids tend to disconnect.
• You child is not meeting grade-level standards. Children do develop at different rates but if your child has had one to two years of instruction in reading and still cannot read, or has tried continuously to learn math facts and simply cannot, there may be something deeper going on.
• Difficulty following directions, planning, and organizing. Children with attentional and executive function difficulties cannot manage many aspects of their lives. Difficulty planning school projects, remembering homework, a constant messy room, having difficulty getting dressed in time, not being able to wait their turn to speak, and needing directions repeated multiple times are common signs.
This is not a comprehensive list, and having these signs does not necessarily mean a child has processing delays or requires a full battery of testing. However, if you find yourself wondering about some of these signs, it might be time to ask the learning specialist at your child’s school or a professional educational therapist about a quick processing screening to flag any problem areas.
Contact Dr. Pirayesh via laeducationaltherapy.com.