Learn A Few Signals Of Learning Disability In Preschool
1. Does he have a vocabulary of more than 200 words?
Most 3-year-olds can rattle off the words for body parts, everyday objects, and basic pronouns such as “you” or “me.” They’ll also start asking “why?” and begin using plurals. Speech and language problems are often one of the first signs of a learning disability such as an auditory- or language processing disorder in which a child’s brain has difficulty interpreting or using sound or language.
Undiagnosed hearing loss—or even chronic ear infections—can also delay speech, says Mark Griffin, Ph.D., a longtime special-education expert who consults for Understood, a nonprofit advocacy group for parents and kids with learning and attention issues. A child’s hearing is checked at birth and again at around age 5, but you can ask your pediatrician for an assessment before then if you’re concerned.
2. Can she say how old she is?
By 36 months, preschoolers should understand the concept of “how many” and be able to hold up fingers for how old they are. They should be able to “count,” in that they can recite several numbers in order (though they often skip some). At age 4, kids can usually count up to 20. A persistent delay in this area might be an early sign of dyscalculia, a learning disability that interferes with understanding numbers and telling time.
3. Does he know his ABCs?
Between 3 and 4 years old, children should be able to recognize ten or more letters when they see them. Some can spot their own first name or even a few words they see frequently. If your child is falling behind most of his peers in this area, it could point to a language-processing disorder or dyslexia, a learning disability that causes difficulty in reading, writing, and spelling.
4. Does your child seem less mature than other kids her age?
Kids with ADHD could be as much as three years behind other children their age in certain aspects of brain development, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health. Kids need to be able to cooperate with peers and manage their own frustration without hitting or throwing tantrums. If your child isn’t quite there yet, it doesn’t mean she definitely has ADHD or will develop a learning disability however you should keep an eye on the behavior.
5. Does he try to “read”?
Preschoolers can answer questions about what they see in books and may pretend to read by turning pages and making up stories based on the illustrations. At age 4, most can also recite some of the lines from a favorite book by heart. This means they are learning that pictures help tell the story, and they understand that the symbols (letters) on the page have meaning..
6. How are her table manners?
Between ages 3 and 4, most children will be able to hold a fork and a spoon with their fingers instead of in their fists. Similarly, preschoolers should also be able to grip a thick crayon or marker with their fingers. A child who isn’t doing these things could be experiencing a delay in fine motor skills—sometimes an early sign of dysgraphia, a learning disability that makes writing difficult.
7. Does your child “ignore” his friends when they call his name?
This might hint at an auditory- or visual-processing deficit that hinders his ability to understand and use information that he hears or sees. These deficits can affect speech, memory, and knowing where objects are in space.
8. Is she a stair master?
It should be tough to keep a preschooler out of anywhere. By age 3, she should be easily walking up and down stairs, jumping, and working door handles on her own. Children who don’t do this may have gross motor delays.
9. Does he play “pretend” with friends?
Between ages 3 and 4, your child should play with other kids rather than just alongside them and gravitate toward imaginative, pretend play. If he doesn’t, talk to your pediatrician about whether he might have a delay in social skills.