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Education | 5 Minutes

Learning Disabilities: Question to Diagnosis

Written by VP Admin
Learning Disabilities: Question to Diagnosis

Recently, I was having a discussion with “Joan” about her 11-year-old son. As I recall, she has five or six kids. I believe “Trevor” is her second. She has been worried for the past few years that something just didn’t seem to be connecting with Trevor, but after all she is not a trained teacher and she only had one other example for comparison at this age, her oldest daughter.

As Joan talked to friends at church and co-op, everyone told her not to worry. He was just a late bloomer. Trevor started complaining about not liking to go to Sunday school this year, and she couldn’t figure it out. He had always loved going. Then one Sunday on the way home from church, she heard his younger sister, one who is in the same Sunday school class, say something about a kid laughing at her brother when he read from the Bible. Nothing clicked yet, but the uneasy feeling persisted.

Later, Joan decided to do a history project with the kids from one of the VP teacher’s manuals. Everyone was doing a great job, but when she looked at Trevor’s next to his younger sister’s she just shook her head. He had some amazing ideas, in fact he had come up with some extremely interesting facts, but it looked as if a far younger child had put it together.

Joan could not figure it out. Was Trevor just being lazy? We all know boys can be lazy at this age. Or was it something else? Well, another six months passed and she decided to enroll Trevor in an online class. The year started out oka, but then she realized that he was falling behind. When you have a discussion with him, he can have the conversation of an adult, but when he has to put it on paper it’s as if he can’t remember a thing. How could this be? She finally called the Veritas Press office with lots of questions. Those calls usually get passed on to me because I have a background in these things. It’s where my heart is. I absolutely love talking to moms or dads about these issues. You may think I’m crazy, but I find it exciting when we realize our child has a learning issue. I am not crazy. God made your baby perfectly, and this is something that our heavenly Father already knows about him. Now you are discovering what He already knows. And best of all, now you can take the first step in helping him discover his God-given potential. How exciting is that?

We had a lengthy discussion. I told Joan it sure sounded like he had some learning disabilities. Here are some typical questions that I ask when talking to parents:

  1. Did your child have trouble learning the alphabet, rhyming words, and connecting letters to sounds?
  2. Has he shown difficulty reading out loud, repeating words, or sounding out words?
  3. Does he struggle with reading comprehension?
  4. Does he have trouble spelling words, seeming to know them but then forgetting them?
  5. Does he have poor handwriting?
  6. Can he express himself orally, but has difficulty communicating in writing?
  7. Did acquire language late as a young child?
  8. Does he have trouble following directions—particularly multi-task directions?
  9. Does he have trouble organizing things?
  10. Does he fail to take social cues that most others understand?
  11. Is he disturbed by loud sounds and certain social situations?
  12. Does he reverse letters of the alphabet?
  13. Does he have difficulty sitting still? Does he fidget?
  14. Do you need to sit with him at all times to get any work accomplished?

This is just a short list of things that I ask parents while entering a conversation of learning disabilities.

I told Trevor’s mom that I was not there to test him, so I suggested that they contact NILD, National Institute for Learning Development ( to find someone in their area to test Trevor. I love NILD because of how they think. On the NILD web site they say:

“NILD exists to enable people to learn and reason effectively. Instead of adapting the learning environment to a student's unique learning struggles, we seek to change the way a person thinks so that he or she can succeed in any environment. Rather than accommodating weak cognitive connections, we strengthen them.”

So, what do we mean by this? If you are questioning whether or not your child has a learning issue, I would suggest getting him tested. I know that there are times when parents are nervous, because they don’t want their child labeled. I get it, but it’s like when your car has an issue. You can’t get it fixed until you find out what the problem is. The earlier your child is diagnosed, the earlier you can help him learn how to learn best. You don’t want to discipline a child for not doing his work well if you don’t know if he has an issue. Remember, one of the first things Joan said was that she didn’t know if he was being lazy. If your child was deaf would you discipline him for not responding when you talked to him? Learning disabilities are no different. The only thing different is you don’t know they are deaf. So many times when we talk about learning disabilities we immediately think of adapting the environment for the child. I am not saying you should never do that, but NILD looks at things the same way we do at Veritas; they want to make sure that a child can accomplish anything they want to in life, learning to work with their environment, not simply finding an environment that works.

If you think your child has an issue, please feel free to contact me at I am happy to talk through your situation with you. You can also contact NILD. They have wonderful resources to help you on your journey. Know this: once you find out if your child does have a learning issue, then you can tackle the problem. We have so many children excelling in our classes because we have partnered with the parents to help each child live up to their God-given abilities.

Look at this as part of all that God has planned for your child and know that we are here to help in any way we can.


Laurie Detweiler