Parenting a child with learning disabilities

A special challenge

Are you concerned your child may be one of over eight million youngsters who has a learning disability? If your child’s school achievement is not on the same level as his overall intelligence, a good possibility exists that your child may have a learning disability. He may experience frustration, anger with himself and school and a lowering of self-esteem. Generally, such a student becomes "turned off" by school and loses interest in learning.

Most learning-disabled students exhibit some of the following characteristics. The fact that the student cannot function in school so as to achieve at a level in keeping with his ability is key.


  • Trouble pronouncing words
  • Limited vocabulary for age
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Low reading comprehension skills
  • Weak writing skills
  • Poor spelling
  • Trouble explaining himself/searches for words


  • Trouble with learning of alphabet, math facts, months, days of the week
  • Difficulty with organization of personal things and school materials
  • Learning new skills requires a lot of repetition
  • A hard time giving back learned information
  • Difficulty studying for tests; may frequently know material at home the night before but can’t do it for the test the next day
  • Works at a slower pace than others his age


  • Trouble sitting still
  • Appears restless
  • Leaves tasks incomplete
  • Impulsive
  • Makes seemingly careless errors
  • Distractible
  • Inconsistent
  • A hard time managing his own behavior
  • Knows a lot of small bits of unrelated information

Fine motor skills

  • Clumsiness as a pre-schooler
  • Avoids drawing activities
  • Difficulty holding a pencil
  • Hard-to-read handwriting and avoids writing


  • A hard time managing physical space
  • Difficulty interacting in social situations
  • Few friends
  • Misbehavior as a way to ask for information and new skills

If your child learns differently, then the school must provide a program that teaches to his learning style. If you as a parent have to teach your child, rather than simply reinforcing or helping him practice skills he supposedly learned in school, it is time to visit the school. When approaching the school, it is most important that you and the teacher share a common goal-the child’s well-being - and are not on opposite teams. A child with learning disabilities presents  many unique challenges to himself, his family and his school. It is most important to bring a feeling of success to your child by looking for his strengths  and communicating these strengths to him.

Seek support from other parents who have had this experience. You are not alone although this feeling may surround you from time to time. Support groups are an excellent place for parents to express feelings safely and receive help. For information on finding support groups, call Family Connection of South Carolina at 800-578-8750 or visit