However, you might not realize your child has a milder form of ID until they fail to meet common developmental goals. Almost all cases of ID are diagnosed by the time a child reaches 18 years of age. Some people with ID may also have specific physical characteristics. These can include having a short stature or facial abnormalities.
People in this category are often physically impaired, have hearing loss, are nonverbal, or have a physical disability. To be diagnosed with ID, your child must have below-average intellectual and adaptive skills. Your child will be given standard intelligence tests, such as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test. The doctor may also administer other tests such as the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Laboratory and imaging tests may also be performed. Other conditions, such as hearing loss, learning disorders, neurological disorders, and emotional problems can also cause delayed development.
The plan will also detail the services that your child will need to help them with normal development. Your family needs will also be addressed in the plan. When your child is ready to attend school, an Individualized Education Program IEP will be put in place to help them with their educational needs. All children with ID benefit from special education.
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The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act IDEA requires that public schools provide free and appropriate education to children with ID and other developmental disabilities. When ID occurs with other serious physical problems, your child may have a below-average life expectancy. However, if your child has mild to moderate ID, they will probably have a fairly normal life expectancy. When your child grows up, they may be able to work a job that complements their level of ID, live independently, and support themselves.
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You may be tempted to look to others—teachers, therapists, doctors—for solutions, especially at first. Be an advocate for your child. You may have to speak up time and time again to get special help for your child.
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Embrace your role as a proactive parent and work on your communication skills. It may be frustrating at times, but by remaining calm and reasonable, yet firm, you can make a huge difference for your child. Remember that your influence outweighs all others. Your child will follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with optimism, hard work, and a sense of humor, your child is likely to embrace your perspective—or at least see the challenges as a speed bump, rather than a roadblock. Focus your energy on learning what works for your child and implementing it the best you can. Your child is not defined by their learning disability.
A learning disability represents one area of weakness, but there are many more areas of strengths. Nurture the activities where they excel, and make plenty of time for them. By understanding the different types of learning disorders and their signs, you can pinpoint the specific challenges your child faces and find a treatment program that works.
If there is demonstrated educational need, the school is required by law to develop an Individualized Education Plan IEP that delivers some educational benefit, but not necessarily one that maximizes student achievement. Parents who want the best for their kids may find this standard frustrating. Your child may be eligible for many kinds of accommodations and support services, but the school might not provide services unless you ask for them.
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Being a vocal advocate for your child can be challenging. Clarify your goals. Before meetings, write down what you want to accomplish.
Decide what is most important, and what you are willing to negotiate. Be a good listener. Allow school officials to explain their opinions. Offer new solutions. Do your research and find examples of what other schools have done. Keep the focus.
The school system is dealing with a large number of children; you are only concerned with your child. Help the meeting stay focused on your child. Stay calm, collected and positive.
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Go into the meeting assuming that everyone wants to help. If you say something you regret, simply apologize and try to get back on track. It is better to recognize that the school situation for your child will probably never be perfect. Too many regulations and limited funding mean that the services and accommodations your child receives may not be exactly what you envision for them, and this will probably cause you frustration, anger and stress.
Try to recognize that the school will be only one part of the solution for your child and leave some of the stress behind.
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Your attitude of support, encouragement and optimism will have the most lasting impact on your child. Everyone—learning disability or not—has their own unique learning style. Some people learn best by seeing or reading, others by listening, and still others by doing. You can help a child with a learning disability by identifying their primary learning style.
Is your child a visual learner, an auditory learner, or a kinesthetic learner?
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The following lists will help you determine what type of learner your child is. Success means different things to different people, but your hopes and dreams for your child probably extend beyond good report cards. By focusing on these broad skills, you can help give your child a huge leg up in life. For children with learning disabilities, self-awareness knowledge about strengths, weaknesses, and special talents and self-confidence are very important. Struggles in the classroom can cause children to doubt their abilities and question their strengths.
A proactive person is able to make decisions and take action to resolve problems or achieve goals. For people with learning disabilities, being proactive also involves self-advocacy for example, asking for a seat at the front of the classroom and the willingness to take responsibility for choices. Children or adults with learning disabilities may need to work harder and longer because of their disability. The ability to set realistic and attainable goals is a vital skill for life success.
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It also involves the flexibility to adapt and adjust goals according to changing circumstances, limitations, or challenges. Strong support systems are key for people with learning disabilities. Successful people are able to ask for help when they need it and reach out to others for support.
If children with learning disabilities learn how to regulate stress and calm themselves , they will be much better equipped to overcome challenges. Your child may behave very differently than you do when they are under stress.
But some people—children included—shut down, space out, and withdraw when stressed. If children with learning disabilities are eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise, they will be better able to focus, concentrate, and work hard. Regular physical activity makes a huge difference in mood, energy, and mental clarity. Encourage your learning disabled child to get outside, move, and play. Rather than tiring out your child and taking away from schoolwork, regular exercise will actually help them stay alert and attentive throughout the day.
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