Extra Special Homeschooling: How Can I Tell If My Homeschooled Child Has a Learning Disorder?

Extra Special Homeschooling
October 2016, Issue 4

How Can I Tell If My Homeschooled Child Has a Learning Disorder?
by Homeschool.com’s Rebecca Kochenderfer

The diagnosis of a learning disorder is not something to take lightly. It can mean making many changes for your child’s education, which can often affect the whole family. In most cases, teachers in schools will assist in making a diagnosis. If you’re homeschooling, though, how can you make the diagnosis on your own?

Chances are good that when your child was a baby, you were looking through all the developmental books to see if your child measured up or had delays in his development. Now that your child is older, you can still use books to help determine where he falls in relation to other kids his age. Remember, all children develop differently and some feel a “better late than early” approach is best. Just because your child hasn’t mastered his multiplication facts by a certain age doesn’t automatically mean he has a learning disorder. A true diagnosis involves several things. Here are just a few things you can do to help guide you on your journey:

  1. Observe your child. Pay close attention to how he develops in all areas, starting with his infant and toddler development. In many cases, parents and doctors can detect signs of future problems by observing how a child grows and develops in the very early years. If your child is of school age, pay attention to the progress he’s making. Be careful not to compare him to other kids his age or older siblings when they were his age. All children are different—even if they come from the same parents. What’s important is that your child makes progress. Focus more on that and less on how fast he makes that progress.
  2. Contact a Special Needs Advisor. When it comes to diagnosing a learning disorder, take an “earlier is better” approach. The sooner the diagnosis, the quicker you can begin to address your child’s needs. Consider contacting a learning disorder specialist, a psychologist, or the school psychologist at your local public school.
  3. Ask other parents of children with special needs. Sometimes, some of the best support comes from your peers. If you’re in a homeschooling co-op or support group, find parents within the group who have children with special needs and ask them what some of their first indicators were. If you don’t belong to a group or would prefer asking in a more private way, ask some of the parents on our forum! We have a very active group of parents at Homeschool.com and the Special Needs forum is specifically for conversations related to homeschooling a child with special needs.

If you have a child with special needs, homeschooling may be the best thing you can do for him. Homeschooling offers benefits to children with special needs that schools simply cannot provide. For instance, homeschooling allows you the chance to give your child the one-on-one attention he may need. Like most homeschooling parents, you may receive a negative response from outsiders. However, you can keep your head high knowing you’re doing the best thing for him!