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7 Things to Know About the 1 in 5 with Learning and Attention Issues

7 Things to Know About the 1 in 5 with Learning and Attention Issues

The term “learning and attention issues” covers a wide range of challenges kids may face in school, at home and in the community. It includes all children who are struggling — whether their issues have been formally identified or not. Learning and attention issues are brain-based difficulties, and they often run in families. Find resources that can help kids be successful in school and in life!

#1: One in five kids has a learning or attention issue. Chances are, you know a child with learning and attention issues.

Learning Disabilities: An Overview

Find out more about the different types of learning disabilities, how they're identified, and what types of instruction support students with LD. Learn more >

Reading Rocks

Meet Sam, Madeleine, Oliver, and the rest of the kids at the Lab School of Washington, D.C., a school designed especially for children with learning disabilities. Watch video >

Down and Up: The Emotional Journey of a Child with LD

This animation from the National Center for Learning Disabilities shows what it’s like for a child who is struggling in school. It also shows the power of kind words when it comes to overcoming obstacles. Watch video >

9 Surprising Facts About Learning and Attention Issues

In a recent survey by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, nearly everyone asked had heard of dyslexia. But only one-third knew about other learning disabilities. And more than half of the people surveyed incorrectly think that wearing glasses can treat certain learning disabilities. Here are nine other facts that might surprise you. Learn more >

#2: Learning and attention issues are brain-based difficulties that can cause kids to struggle in school, socially and with everyday skills. Dyslexia and ADHD are examples of common learning and attention issues.

Dyslexia Basics

Do you think your child or student might have dyslexia? This fact sheet provides a definition of dyslexia, symptoms, prevalence, signs, and effects, as well as ways to help your child. Learn more >

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Get the basics on ADHD, including signs, treatment, accommodations in school, and tips for parents and teachers. Learn more >

Reading and the Brain

Hosted by Henry Winkler — who has had his own struggles with reading — our PBS show explores how brain scientists are working to solve the puzzle of why some children struggle to read and others don't. Watch video >

#3: Having learning and attention issues doesn’t mean a child isn’t intelligent. In fact, many kids with learning and attention issues are very bright.

Talking to Children About LD

A psychologist specializing in language-based learning disabilities explains how to talk to children about their LD. All the parts you need to be smart are in your brain. Nothing is missing or broken. The difference between your brain and one that doesn't have an LD is that your brain gets "traffic jams" on certain highways. Learn more >

Children's books featuring characters with learning and attention issues

Use our Book Finder tool to discover picture books and chapter books that include characters with dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning and attention issues (ages 3-12). Find children's books >

Meet children’s authors and illustrators with dyslexia and ADHD

Hear first-hand what it was like to struggle with reading from Dav Pilkey, Patricia Polacco, Avi, Jerry Pinkney, E.B. Lewis, Carmen Agra Deedy, and others, and learn how these talented writers and illustrators discovered their strengths and gifts. Watch videos >

Personal Stories

From Understood, discover stories of perseverance and strength from celebreties and other adults with learning and attention issues, as well as kids who have their own stories to share. Watch video >

#4: It’s a myth that kids with learning and attention issues are “just being lazy.” While learning and attention issues may not be as visible as other health issues, they’re just as real.

The World's Greatest Underachiever

Actor and author Henry Winkler reminisces about how dyslexia impacted his school years in this article from Highlights for Children magazine. "Now I know," he writes, "that even if a person learns differently, he or she can still be filled with greatness." Learn more >

What Are Classrooms Like for Students with Learning Disabilities?

Classrooms can be perilous in a number of ways for students with learning disabilities. Here are some tips to remember when working with students with LD. Learn more >

Putdowns and Comebacks

When children struggle in school, they can easily get discouraged. They might say or think "I'll never learn how to read" or "I'm just dumb." To turn these self-defeating thoughts and feelings around, kids need the help of caring adults. Discover what a child's "put downs" may mean and what "comebacks" you can say or do to encourage a child to keep trying. Learn more >

Experts Weigh In: “What Should I Do When My Child Says ‘I’m Dumb’?”

It may be one of the most painful things to hear your child say: “I’m dumb” or “I’m stupid.” Your immediate reaction might be “No you’re not!” But is that a helpful way to respond? How you react can have a positive impact on your child’s self-esteem and his motivation to keep working on his challenges. Here, five experts weigh in on what to do if your child says he’s dumb. Learn more >

#5: Some signs of learning and attention issues — like refusing to read aloud, having a consistently messy backpack or not wanting to go to school — can seem so commonplace that they’re easy to overlook. If parents are concerned, talking to their child’s teacher or doctor is a great first step.

Common Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. This article provides a brief overview list of typical signs of dyslexia in preschool and kindergarten. Learn more >

Recognizing Reading Problems

Learning to read is a challenge for many kids, but most can become good readers if they get the right help. Parents have an important job in recognizing when a child is struggling and knowing how to find help. Here are some signs to look for and things to do if you suspect your child is having trouble reading. Learn more >

Handwriting: What's Normal, What's Not

Learn what to look for as your child's handwriting skills begin to develop, as well as some signs and symptoms of dysgraphia — a learning disability that affects a child's handwriting and ability to hold a pencil or crayon. Learn more >

I’m Concerned My Child Might Have Learning and Attention Issues. Now What?

Are you wondering if learning and attention issues are causing your child’s challenges in school or at home? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. One in five kids have learning and attention issues. And with the right support, they can thrive in school and in life. Here are 10 steps you can take to determine if your child has learning and attention issues, and where to go from there. Learn more >

#6: Kids learn in different ways and at different paces. It’s important to teach to each student’s individual strengths, skills and needs. This is true for all kids — not just kids with learning and attention issues.

Universal Design for Learning: Meeting the Needs of All Students

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides the opportunity for all students to access, participate in, and progress in the general-education curriculum by reducing barriers to instruction. Learn more about how UDL offers options for how information is presented, how students demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and how students are engaged in learning. Learn more >

Multisensory Parenting Tips

There are many ways a parent can help and encourage a child by using some multisensory techniques. Discover 12 easy tips that encourage multisensory learning at home. Learn more >

Designing a Dossier: An Instruction Book for Your Child

Many of the adults in your child's life are unfamiliar with learning disorders in general, or your child's unique pattern of strengths and limitations. Developing a one- to three-page dossier that provides useful information about your child can help their babysitters, coaches, teachers, bus drivers, school support staff, neighbors, and relatives understand their limitations. Learn more >

Educational Strategies: An Overview

Many educational strategies are available to build on your child’s strengths. Understanding these strategies can help you work with the school to figure out what’s right for your child. From Understood, learn more about the educational strategies you’re most likely to encounter. Learn more >

#7: By setting high expectations for kids with learning and attention issues, and ensuring they have the right supports from parents, educators and the community, we can propel them to thrive in school and in life.

5 Things Your Grade-Schooler With Dyslexia Can Say to Self-Advocate

Self-advocacy is an important skill for even young kids with dyslexia to develop. But sometimes it’s hard for grade-schoolers to know what to say. Find out how you can help your child by rehearsing common situations she may face. Learn more >

How Parents Can Be Advocates for Their Children

Parents are often the best educational advocates for their children, especially children with a learning disability. Discover nine tips to help you be a strong champion for your child. Learn more >

Help Your Child with a Learning Disability Be More Independent with Assistive Technology

This guide focuses on ways to encourage the independence of a student with learning disabilities while in school and as they transition to college or work. Learn more >

Empowering Parents

In our PBS show, visit schools in Huntingtown, Maryland, and Portland, Oregon, to see how families learn to identify early signs of reading problems and find ideas for getting their kids the help and support they need to succeed at reading. Watch video >

Partnering with Your Child's School

From Understood, find dozens of articles, tips, and checklists to help you learn how to work more effectively with your child's school and teachers. Learn more >

Empowering Your Child

From Understood, find dozens of articles, tips, downloadable activities and worksheets, booklists, and more to help your child understand his unique strengths and challenges and learn to advocate for his needs. Learn more >

Reading Rockets, Understood (2017)

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