Parents of school-age children have just endured the annual teacher conference.
While some are delighted with their child's progress, others hear a long list of their child's difficulties.
Some go home wondering why their child, who is obviously intelligent because he excels in math, can't read.
Or perhaps they wonder why their child, who plays chess with Grandpa, can't seem to manage the simplest tasks he's faced with at school.
"I think that whenever you see a large discrepancy between what you know your child is capable of and what their performance actually is, you could suspect a learning disability," said Stephanie Tighe, president of the Learning Disabilities Association of Carroll County.
"Learning disabilities are so varied, and have such a tremendous impact on a child's self-esteem, that parents should follow their instincts and have the child tested, whether the schools tell them there's a problem or not. Parents know their children, and their instincts are generally right."
Ms. Tighe said that most people are aware of dyslexia and attention span deficit disorder (ADD), but these are only two of an array of learning disabilities.
"Most learning disabilities have their roots in information processing problems," Ms. Tighe said. "With dyslexia, a child has difficulty with reversals of information seen on a page. ADD children have problems processing virtually all information, because they become distracted and lose their train of thought.
"But others find it impossible to simply copy down a problem in a book on a separate page, or can't keep up with the class because, when given several directions, they lose track after the first because they're still working on that one, and the other directions are lost.
"Any processing problem will make school an ordeal for a child, and can have a terrible impact on their self-esteem."
Does this sound like your child?
The Learning Disabilities Association, which is based in Sykesville, can give you emotional support, information about your child's disabilities and, most important, supply assistance in getting your child the education he deserves.
The group's meeting this month, which was mistakenly advertised in fliers as taking place at the Eldersburg Library, will be held at North Carroll Public Library at 2255 Hanover Pike (Route 30) in Hampstead tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
Each monthly meeting is held in a different area of the county to make it easier for parents to get acquainted with the group. Next month, Jan. 12, it really will be held in the Eldersburg Library.
Those who saw the misleading fliers and would like to attend can call Ms. Tighe for directions.
This month's meeting will focus on children's needs in education and what Carroll County parents would like to see schools doing for their children.
Your concerns will be heard, too.
"We usually have a school board member sit in at all of our meetings, but for this one, we thought that a board member's presence might inhibit people from saying what they really think," Ms. Tighe said.
"So I will be taking notes, and I'll take my notes to the school board. They really are interested. They asked me to do it this way. We've seen a lot of improvement in special education in the past few years and this will be a good indication to them what else needs to be done."
Interested in voicing your concerns about your child's needs? Call Stephanie Tighe at 795-8621.
About 60 people attended Piney Run's Country Christmas Holiday Workshop. They enjoyed breads made by Joanne Neil and a simple lunch.
According to naturalist Elaine Sweitzer, people were not the only critters enjoying lunch that day. This year, more birds are visiting the feeding station.
"Our feeding station is more fun than ever this year," Ms. Sweitzer said. "We don't know why. Maybe it will be a hard winter. But this is a wonderful time to remember our feathered friends; they will really appreciate a special holiday dinner, too."
If you aren't ready yet to feed the birds, or are still looking for that unusual gift for someone on your list, visit the center with the kids and buy a new bird feeder or a heating element for a bird bath. Watching the birds is great fun for anyone.
"We have a new feeder this year. It's a platform feeder that attracts all sorts of birds and it has a cover. It's a great buy," Ms. Sweitzer said. "We also have lots of seed, from black oil sunflower to thistle. We even have a suet feeder that starlings can't eat from."
Birds need water year-round, as well as food, Ms. Sweitzer said, and winter's freezing temperatures can make water a scarce treat.