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How to identify learning disabilities in preschool- and elementary-aged children

Individual differences can make the manifestation of psychopathology varied and difficult to assess. In children, while learning disabilities all impact on their academic achievement and school performances, the symptoms can look very different. One child may be struggling with math, while another may excel in reading but for some reason do very poorly in spelling. It is not always easy to identify learning disabilities due to the wide variations, but there are similar warning signs that children will share. Below is a checklist that lists some of the common problems that you can use to see whether your preschool- or elementary-aged child has a learning disability.


Trouble pronouncing words

Problems finding the right words to express their thoughts

Difficulty in learning numbers, alphabets, colors, shapes, days of the week, and any other basic/fundamental systems

Trouble with following directions or learning new routines

Problems in controlling their fine motor skills

Are unable to or have great difficulties in controlling crayons, pencils or scissors

Are unable to or have great difficulties in dressing themselves (e.g. with buttons, zippers, snaps, shoelaces.


Problems with identifying the connections between letters and pronunciation/sounds

Unable to make words by blending sounds

Confuses basic words when reading aloud

Makes spelling and reading errors often

Difficulty in learning basic math concepts

Consistently slow in learning new skills

Have trouble in telling time and/or remembering basic sequences 

There is no single profile or symptom that you can use as solid proof to help make a diagnosis. If you use the above-mentioned checklist and suspect that your child may have a learning disability, I am an Edmonton-based psychologist who would be able to give your child a psychoeducational assessment. Learn more about my services in the Edmonton area.

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