Advice for Parents of Kids With Learning Disabilities

Was your child recently diagnosed with a learning or attention issue, like dyslexia or ADHD? Would you like some advice from parents who are farther along in the journey?

As part of Understood.org’s Real Parents, Tough Topics series, Understood has brought together four parents of kids with learning and attention issues. Watch their conversation as they each share “What I wish I’d known sooner” about their children’s issues, working with schools and more.


Understanding Dysgraphia

This article from Erica Patino and Understood.org will help you understand what dysgraphia is, which skills are affected by dysgraphia, how dysgraphia is diagnosed, conditions related to dysgraphia, and how you can help your child.


You probably hear a lot about learning and attention issues like dyslexia and ADHD. But chances are you don’t hear much about dysgraphia. If your child has trouble expressing himself in writing, you may want to learn more about this condition.

Writing difficulties are common among children and can stem from a variety of learning and attention issues. By learning what to watch for, you can be proactive about getting help for your child.

There’s no cure or easy fix for dysgraphia. But there are strategies and therapies that can help a child improve his writing. This will help him thrive in school and anywhere else expressing himself in writing is important.

Continue Reading


Dyslexia: What Is and What Isn’t?


If you’ve heard the term dyslexia and aren’t sure what it means, you’re not alone. People tend to have a lot of questions about dyslexia. Is it a general term that covers many kinds of learning issues? How is it different from (or the same as) a specific learning disability? The answers here can help you develop a better understanding of dyslexia.

What exactly is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a brain-based condition. It causes difficulty with reading, spelling, writing and sometimes speaking. In people with dyslexia, the brain has trouble recognizing or processing certain types of information. This can include matching letter sounds and symbols (such as the letter b making the buh sound) and blending them together to make words.

Continue Reading


Dyslexia and Anxiety: What You Need to Know

Kids know how important reading is. They hear it from their parents and teachers starting at a very young age. So when kids with dyslexia struggle with that vital skill, it can create feelings of anxiety.

In most cases, those feelings are passing and limited to situations that involve reading. That might be anything from reading a menu to taking notes for a book report. But sometimes, kids with dyslexia and other learning issues develop a bigger problem with anxiety.

Continue Reading



I’m Concerned My Child Might Have Learning and Attention Issues

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.

This article from Understood.org provides steps you can take to determine if your child has learning and attention issues, and where to go from there.

1. Know the skills learning and attention issues can affect.

The term “learning and attention issues” covers a wide range of challenges kids may face in school, at home and in the community. These lifelong, brain-based difficulties can cause trouble with reading, writing, math, organization, concentration, listening comprehension, social skills or motor skills.

They’re not just “kids being lazy.” And having these issues doesn’t mean a child isn’t intelligent. Read about what learning and attention issues are and what they aren’t.

Continue Reading


The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5

Building on NCLD’s 40-year history as the leading authority on learning disabilities, The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5 report uses recently released data for the 2015–2016 school year and other field-leading research to shine a light on the current challenges and opportunities facing the 1 in 5 children who have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia and ADHD.

Continue Reading


Metacognition: How Thinking About Thinking Can Help Kids

When kids hit difficult problems — the seemingly insurmountable English essay, a math test that takes on epic proportions, social struggles that leave them feeling frustrated — it can be tempting to give up and resort to four words no parent ever wants to hear: “I can’t do it.”

Kids need to be able to make the transition from ‘I can’t’ to the proactive ‘How can I?’

In order to thrive, kids need to be able to make the transition from the negative “I can’t” to the proactive “How can I?”

To do that, they need to think about why they’re stuck, what’s frustrating them, what they would need to get unstuck. They need to think about their own thinking.

There’s a word for that, and it’s metacognition.

Continue Reading


The Dyslexia-Stress-Anxiety Connection

What is stress?

Stress is the reaction of the body and brain to situations that put us in harm’s way. The stressor may be a physical threat (e.g., a baseball coming quickly toward you) or a psychological threat (e.g., a worry or fear that you will make a mistake delivering your lines in a play or write a passage that won’t make sense to the reader). Stress, or more specifically, the stress response, is our body’s attempt to keep us safe from harm. It’s a biological and psychological response. When we’re under stress, the chemistry of our body and our brain (and, therefore, our thinking) changes. A part of the brain called the amygdala does a great job learning what’s dangerous, and it makes a connection between certain situations and negative outcomes.

How can stress be good and bad?

All human and non-human animals have the built-in capacity to react to stress. You may have heard of a “fight or flight” response. This means that when faced with a threat, we have two basic ways of protecting ourselves. We can run away (flee) or stand firm and try to overcome or subdue the threat (fight). When we have a sense that we can control or influence the outcome of a stressful event, the stress reaction works to our advantage and gets our body and brain ready to take on the challenge. That’s good stress; at the most primitive level, it keeps us alive. It also allows us to return to a feeling of comfort and safety after we have been thrown off balance by some challenge.

On the other hand, bad stress occurs in a situation in which we feel we have little or no control of the outcome. We have a sense that no matter what we do, we’ll be unable to make the stressor go away. Body and brain chemistry become over-reactive and get all out of balance. When that happens, it can give rise to another protective mechanism, to “freeze” (like a “deer in the headlights”.) We can freeze physically (e.g., become immobilized), or we can freeze mentally (e.g., “shut down.”) In these situations, the stressor wins and we lose because we’re incapacitated by the perceived threat.

How does good and bad stress work with dyslexia?

Individuals with dyslexia are confronted regularly by tasks that are, either in reality or in their perception, extremely difficult for them. These tasks might be reading, spelling, or math. If they have experienced success at mastering this kind of task in the past, good stress helps them face the challenge with a sense of confidence, based on the belief that “I can do this kind of task.” If, on the other hand, someone has met with repeated failure when attempting this or a similar task in the past, his or her body and brain may be working together to send out a chemical warning system that gets translated as “This is going to be way too difficult for you! Retreat! Retreat!) That’s bad stress in action. And remember, perception is everything! It doesn’t matter if a teacher, a friend, or a spouse believes that you can do something; it’s that you think you can do it that matters.

Continue Reading


The State of LD: Understanding Learning and Attention Issues

1 in 5 children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues

Children with dyslexia, ADHD and other kinds of learning and attention issues are as smart as their peers. But without the right support, many fall behind academically and struggle socially. They’re more likely to repeat a grade, get in trouble at school or with the law, drop out and struggle as adults to find work. But this downward spiral can be prevented.

This data-intensive report form NCLD provides insights into the challenges facing the 1 in 5 as well as specifics on how to improve outcomes in school, work and the community.

NCLD’s The State of LD: Understanding Learning and Attention Issues is available online at http://www.ncld.org/the-state-of-learning-disabilities-understanding-the-1-in-5