African American girl, 11 years, in library with group of students and teacher. Focus on foreground.

Do You Suspect Learning Problems?

Do you wonder why you frequently have to explain directions, a task, or a lesson over and over and over again? Do you wonder why it takes your child a long time to complete their work?

There may be something going on that is interfering with your child’s learning, making it harder than it needs to be. Learning problems in varying degrees happen in 20% of the population.

The key is to understand what may actually be learning problems.

Sometimes there is a slight problem, not enough of one that a parent or teacher would necessarily even look for help with, but it is enough of a problem to make life difficult because the student gets frustrated with school work and doesn’t work up to his/her potential. Sometimes a student has a few areas of difficulty that make learning harder.

Learning problems come in many shapes and sizes. For instance, a student might not remember what happened in the story he just read. This is usually due to the learning problem and not because they weren’t paying attention. When this happens, it can be because of poor visual memory or difficulties with visual tracking. Remembering a list of chores to do is another area of difficulty; this may be a learning problem in the area called auditory memory.

Even when a student is very bright, he/she may be working harder than he/she needs to.

Sometimes, a difficulty or disability might not be obvious. Here are some examples of students who are very bright and each had a difficulty, an area that needed to be addressed to make learning easier for them.

 Spelling related learning problems: A student overwhelmed by spelling

One student I worked with had a spelling disability. She had great difficulty hearing the different sounds that were in each word. Sometimes she mispronounced the word she was trying to spell. When she saw a word, she was unable to isolate the sound each letter made. This is because she had difficulty with auditory visual association, auditory closure and auditory discrimination. She would get extremely frustrated with spelling and writing. I often had trouble deciphering the word she had written. She had misspelled it so badly that she couldn’t even find it in the dictionary.

A student overwhelmed by vision perception

Another bright student had vision perception difficulties. Several behaviors cued me that he had a learning problem. He used to take forever to do his work. He couldn’t just sit and do it. He’d always find some reason to get up and wander around. First it was, “I need a drink.” Then, “Where is the map?” And finally, “I need to go to the bathroom.” He would do everything he could to avoid sitting down and working. The diagnosis was that he had a visual tracking problem that taxed his vision system, temporarily overloading it. The vision system needed to take a break. It wasn’t that he wasn’t smart enough to do the work. You see he was an intelligent student; in fact he received a degree in physics and astro-physics, but as a student, he drove his mother nuts with homework during grade school and middle school!

A student overwhelmed by noise

Another student had a problem in the area of “auditory figure-ground.” The behavior that tipped me off to his learning problem was that he was extremely sensitive to background sounds. In fact, excessive noise bothered him so much that it gave him headaches. When there was too much noise he would just sit quietly with a pained expression while the rest of the class was enjoying the activity. I’d ask him if something was wrong and he’d say he had a headache. This happened repeatedly when there was extra background noise as well as when the class got a bit rowdy.

All children are gifted in different ways

Some students are academically gifted. Some are athletically gifted. Some are socially gifted. Some students have the gift of gab. Unfortunately, some students can be gifted and still feel stupid. A teacher’s job is to try to bring out the best in their students. Sometimes that is easier said than done.

Remember:  Parents are usually correct in identifying when a problem exists, but they don’t always know whether it’s a behavioral problem, a learning difficulty, or a learning disability

Often parents have told me their child had just finished reading a passage and then couldn’t answer the related questions or could only answer half of them. When that happens, the problem could be poor visual memory, difficulties with visual tracking, or difficulties with visualization. Sometimes parents tell me their child can’t seem to remember what happened in the story they just read to them. This time an area of auditory memory is affected. Parents are usually correct in identifying when there is a problem. However, they may need a professional’s guidance to help their child overcome his/her learning problem.

If you suspect your child has leaning problems, give our office a call (530-888-7160) or go directly to my calendar to schedule a complimentary online consultation where I’ll go into greater depth on what you can do when you have a child who is struggling.


Bonnie 100x100

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET is a board certified educational therapist, a learning disability specialist, and dyslexia and ADHD expert.

Award Winning:     Teacher’s Choice, Teacher’s Favorite, Special Needs Company of the Year, Best Reading Educational Site, Best Learning Disabilities Site, Best Family Activities Site, Top 50 Special Educators to Follow on Twitter, Businesswoman of the Year

Best Selling Author:

Best selling co-author: Amazing Grades
Radio Program: Learning Made Easy Talk Radio

Bonnie has a world-wide practice where she teaches parents how to help their kids improve their skills in 20 minutes a day.

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