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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Talking to your child about learning disabilities (LD)

February 10, 2009

My neighbor's son, a second grader, was just found eligible to receive special education services for a specific learning disability (LD) in reading. His Mom called me to find out what resources I could recommend to help her talk with her son and her family about LD. As I gathered resources for her, I thought I'd share them with you too.

First, I recommended that she learn the facts about LD. Our sister site, LDOnline, offers LD Basics that includes common signs, how to get help early, and parent tips. The National Center for Learning Disabilities also offers facts about learning disabilities.

Among the most basic understandings: kids with LD are not stupid. It's not "their fault," they're not lazy, and there's nothing "wrong" with a person with learning disabilities.

Kids with learning disabilities are a heterogeneous group of kids; there's no one description that fits them all. Lots of kids with LD have difficulty with reading, others don't. Some kids with LD struggle in math, others don't.

The one commonality among them is the need for great teachers and excellent instruction.

Talking with a child who has learning disabilities about their LD is important. In my neighbor's case, and probably many others, his eligibility didn't come out of the blue. Jake has always struggled in school, and the demands of second grade haven't been easy. Honestly, I think Jake will be glad to know his frustrations are not because he's been doing something wrong.

Explaining LD and ADD to Your Child from Parent News is a helpful list for parents. It's long and in need of summarization, but the content is useful.

Talking with Your Elementary School Child about Learning Difficulties from Great Schools is another helpful resource.

Our How Parents Can Be Advocates for Their Children encourages parents to gather information, emphasize solutions and to involve your child in decision making when you can.

I hope this is enough to get my neighbor started. Please feel free to add any resources you think we should know about!


One of the best books about dyslexia is "My Name is Brain Brian" by Jeanne Betancourt. It might still be available from Scholastic.

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"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss