Think Your Child Has Learning Difficulties? Trust Your Gut!


It’s the second month of the school year.

Your child is showing signs of learning difficulties. She is having difficulty reading. He is not copying the directions off the board.

Your first impulse is to think “It’s temporary, just a passing phase.”  You find yourself making excuses, “It’s a new school,”  “He needs to get used to this teacher,” “We just had a hurricane, and she got off track.”

Trust your gut.

Instead of creatively making a mental list of plausible causes, ask yourself, “What can I do now so that my child isn’t last in the class by the end of the year?”

As a neurodevelopmental specialist with more than 25 of experience and a mom, I understand the impulse to “wait and see.” And sometimes the issue is transition related and does resolve with time.

But why take the chance? Here are three things to consider:

  • Learning problems are not created equally. There is no “one size fits all” way to address children with learning challenges.
  • Learning issues do not signify a lack of intelligence.Children with learning challenges are often some of the most gifted and creative individuals around. They just learn in an “outside-of-the-box” manner that is often not taught in school.
  • Learning difficulties are often the symptoms of weaknesses in auditory processing, language processing, or visual processing. Some have trouble in all three areas. Understanding the underlying sensory deficit and/or brain circuitry problems that are the root cause of the learning deficiency is key.

Before any interventions or behavioral programs are implemented, parents should first rule out a hearing, vision, or language processing problem, as these deficits can be misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and even Autism Spectrum Disorder.

A little boy, Max, came to me after being diagnosed with Autism.  He was three years old, having terrible tantrums, using limited speech, and having sensory integration difficulties.  His occupational therapist suggested that he get his hearing tested…just in case.  It turned out that Max had a hearing loss in a narrow region of his audiogram where there is a lot of important speech information.  He was fitted with hearing aids and has done well ever since.  The diagnosis of Autism was even renounced shortly after this!

Focus on the root of the problem rather than the symptoms.

At Brainchild Institute, our first line of defense is to make sure a child’s sensory and motor systems are fully operational in order to support the higher level learning they need in school.

Otherwise, you may be wasting precious developmental time focusing on the symptoms (e.g. child cannot read) rather than the root of the disorder (e.g. child has an underlying auditory processing disorder).

One phone call may not impact the beginning of the school year, but can result in an ending which reads “happily ever after.”

For more information about how to tell if your child has underlying neurodevelopmental issues that are keeping them from reaching their potential, contact us at 954-987-8887 or visit our website at

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