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With school getting back into the swing and first-quarter grades starting to come out, some of you might be wondering where some of those bad grades are coming from. Some parents endured a rough last year but reasoned that a new class, teacher, and scenery might improve academic performance. If that’s not the case, however, here are some guidelines for deciding when to seek help for your child.
First, some threshold considerations. Major red flags for potential learning issues include: suspensions or dismissals from school due to behavior, failing a class (especially language-based or math-based classes), or stated concerns from teachers. If there are any such issues, then it is essential for the parent to communicate with the teacher to try to isolate the reasoning behind any disruptive behavior or poor grades (i.e., not doing the work or not understanding the work). This will help direct your attention to evaluating any problems your child may be having.
Many schools will have resources for parents and students for further evaluation, particularly with academic concerns. If assessments for using these resources are offered, it is generally a good idea to accept the evaluation. These can be helpful in deciding the next steps for student assistance and can also help to provide more resources from the school for the student.
Another good option is to contact your pediatrician about any problems your child is having in school. These concerns can be brought up during your child’s check-up, and we can explore further options at that time, including a dedicated appointment to address any learning issues.
Depending on the circumstances, your pediatrician can administer a questionnaire for the parents and teachers, interview you and your child about any concerns, or we may refer to a psychologist or other qualified professional to do a full assessment of behavior and learning abilities for the specific child. After gathering as much appropriate information as possible, your pediatrician will be able to develop a plan of care for your child with realistic goals. After evaluation, possible diagnoses can typically be divided into two categories: 1. Behavioral diagnosis (i.e., ADHD, anxiety) or 2. Learning Disorders (i.e., dyslexia, language disorders,). These can all be discussed with your pediatrician or appropriate clinician.
Treatments can vary widely depending on the diagnosis and child. They can include medications, counseling, or changes in learning environments at school or home. As with many developmental considerations, early intervention and communication are essential to ensure success for your child.