Is this scenario familiar? Your toddler is playing with his favorite toy and less than five minutes into the task he (or she) becomes distracted. Maybe your child appears to have difficulty understanding instructions given by their pre-school teacher, or has frequent tantrums.
It is estimated that 4.67 million Americans (1.8 percent of the U.S. population ages six and older) have learning disabilities (LD). And although psychologists recommend waiting until children are at least six years old be diagnosed (when they are taught in basic subject areas), the warning signs can often be observed in children as early as preschool.
Some of the other warning signs a parent should be aware of in their child’s development are:
- Having difficulty joining in and maintaining positive social status in a peer group
- Having a hard time maintaining self-control when frustrated
- Is unusually withdrawn or seems sad (Be sure to look for this behavior in group activities as well as solo play and artwork.)
- Suffers from extreme anxiety when separated from a parent or caregiver
By the age of three or four, a child should be developing in social and emotional skills such as: taking care of his own needs, such as washing hands and dressing; adjusting to new situations without an adult being present; and expressing anger with words rather than acting out physically. A child should also be beginning to learn how to take turns, share and cooperate.
LD is defined as a group of disorders that affect listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, math, and social skills. A parent need not wait until their child reaches kindergarten for their child to be assessed, but can intervene as early as possible.
An interactive LD checklist is a guide that increases awareness of behaviors that point to risk for LD. As early as preschool, parents can begin looking at “what are the expected behaviors” or a “red flag” for a potential behavior, attention, or learning problem.