The 'hidden handicap'; Reading workshop


Persistent efforts are being made in our nation to educate all children to be reading well by third grade. Still, many children are not "Reading by 9." Sometimes a child's difficulty with reading and writing is developmental, or the school's method may not be appropriate for him. In some cases, a child may have a learning disability, and getting help early can be a key to his future success.

A learning disability is a lifelong disorder that affects the manner in which individuals with normal or above-average intelligence select, retain and express information. Information may become scrambled as it travels between the senses and the brain. Because this disability can not be seen, it is often referred to as the "hidden handicap."

With understanding and appropriate intervention, a child with a learning disability can be taught and can learn strategies to reach his potential.

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, and the Learning Disabilities Association offers suggestions if you suspect your child has a learning disability:

Become informed: Read information from the Learning Disability Association (412-341-1515) and the International Dyslexia Association (410-296-0232). For a free 12-page brochure, call 888-GR8-MIND, or visit

Collect information about your child's performance: Meet with your child's teacher and other professionals in the school to understand his academic skills and attitude toward school.

Request testing: This may begin with a screening. More comprehensive testing may be needed later on that would include interviews, direct observation, a review of your child's educational and medical history, and tests to determine academic and cognitive skills.

Find ways to help: Changes can be made in classroom environment, methods of teaching and routine to enable your child to learn. Talk to your child's teacher about ideas that may help, such as reading aloud, extra time for tests, taping lessons and using new technology.

Help your child at home: Help your child do homework by establishing a regular time and specific place for doing it. Praise your child and give lots of encouragement for work well done.

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