Great Schools interviewed Steven E. Curtis, author of the book Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavior (Greenleaf, 2008) and a licensed child clinical psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of children with emotional, behavioral, developmental, and learning difficulties. He offered to walk through the first signs and symptoms of a learning disability for kids in preschool through high school.
GreatSchools: Preschoolers’ normal behavior ranges from very civilized to utterly silly to something akin to wild animals. How can you observe such complicated little creatures — who don’t usually read or do math — and know which of them will have learning issues in the future?
Steven Curtis: One of the first things you want to look at is whether a kid can listen to stories and comprehend language. Most learning disabilities are language-related, so this is the best place to start.
Another early indicator is the lack of ability to distinguish phonemes — the basic sounds that make up words. If kids have trouble understanding these differences, then they’re at risk.
A lisp is one of those things that is common but is also a red flag. If kids have lisps, it might be because they’ve had frequent ear infections — so they literally can’t hear. If it goes on for too long, they can have trouble differentiating sounds. So when kids have speech issues, you should always have their ears checked. It could be the tip of the iceberg. It could be a motor issue, or it could be a cognitive problem— due to not understanding certain sounds.
Read the whole interview at: Great Schools