What to Do When Your Student is Diagnosed with a Learning Disability

Learning Disability

A learning disability is an ongoing condition that affects a student’s ability to learn in one or more subject areas. This is due to the way the brain processes and retains information. 

The umbrella term ‘learning disability’ covers a wide range of conditions. It’s estimated that up to 1 in 10 people in Australia have a learning disorder. The most common conditions are dyslexia, which affects reading and writing skills, dysgraphia, which relates to spelling and handwriting, and dyscalculia which causes issues with maths.

It can be a difficult and confusing time when a child is diagnosed with a learning disability. Parents are often unsure of what the diagnosis means and what supports are available. 

Here are some tips on what to do after your child is diagnosed.

Adopt a positive attitude

It’s important to remember that a learning disability is not an illness that can be cured. It simply means there are one or more learning areas where your child needs additional support. Their disability does not define them.

Your job is to provide the support and tools your child needs to manage this challenge. Maintaining a positive attitude will help build your child’s confidence and resilience. While it’s vital to address their learning disability, make sure you also continue to nurture their strengths and talents as well. 

Seek out quality information 

One of the first things you can do when your child is diagnosed with a learning disability is to educate yourself about the condition. There’s a lot of quality information online from professional organisations and educators.

Research into learning disabilities is ongoing. New programs, strategies and therapies are constantly being devised, so it’s helpful to keep up to date. Online research should never replace consultation with professionals, but it will help you feel like you have a better grasp on the issue.

Liaise regularly with teachers

If your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, you’re probably already in contact with their school. It’s vital to keep the lines of communication open. Organise regular meetings with teachers to discuss your child’s needs, progress and available support.

The Australian Disability Discrimination Act covers learning disabilities, and it ensures that diagnosed children have the same rights to quality education as any other child. The school is required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your child’s learning, so if you’re not satisfied with the support provided, speak up.

Find local support services

In addition to support from the school, there are many other services available. These include occupational therapists, speech therapists and literacy specialists. A tutor can also provide an individual learning plan that addresses your child’s specific needs. 

Speak to your doctor about specialist referrals or ask for recommendations from the school. Another option is to contact organisations directly, such as the Australia Dyslexia Association and AUSPELD – Australian Federation of Specific Learning Difficulties (SPELD) Associations. The National Disability Insurance Scheme can provide information about your child’s entitlements. 

Become your child’s advocate 

Due to school budget constraints, limited resources and time pressures in the classroom, you may find you need to speak up regularly to ensure your child is getting what they need. Being informed and proactive is essential when dealing with schools and government organisations. 

Becoming your child’s advocate will help them get the education they deserve.