For many children and parents, the beginning of the school year is an exciting time. But for others, this excitement is quickly replaced with worries. Although we are only a few days or weeks into the school year, your child’s teacher already called to talk about behaviors she’s observed during class, or concerns she has with your child’s ability to get along with others. Sometimes, concerns are more specific to academic and learning skills. Regardless, this phone call brings up all sorts of emotions and many questions! You talk to family and friends, and everyone has their own opinion… this is all so confusing. You are thinking that just maybe, your child is a normal, energetic, rather rambunctious child; however, the teacher seems to think there might be impulse control problems. You keep hearing that ‘everyone is different’ and that some children are just slower at acquiring ‘the basics’ when it comes to reading, writing, and math, but that many of them eventually catch up. While you are hoping that this may be ‘immaturity’ and that your child will ‘grow out of it’, often times teachers are best placed to catch the early ‘red flags’ associated with attentional or learning disability issues.
These early signs vary depending on what the underlying issues may be. In ADHD, early signs include problems focusing to complete a task, difficulty sitting still for a few minutes, and problems following instructions. Problems memorizing basic facts such as the alphabet, the days of the week, the names of geometric shapes, and daily routines can sometimes be associated with learning problems. Some children have a rather limited interest in books or in learning how to read, which can be surprising and confusing at the same time because these same children are also very curious and love to learn. Others feel extremely frustrated when they have to put pen to paper, but will tell you all about the assignment and seem to know all of the answers. For some of the upper elementary school students, they seem to ‘hit a wall’ as academic demands increase and rely more heavily on their ability to work independently.
If you are experiencing similar things with your child and want to explore this further, I would be happy to meet with you at Oakland Neuropsychology Center, located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, to help determine whether psychoeducational or neuropsychological testing may help clarify underlying issues. Knowing what to look for and having an individualized plan that addresses your concerns as well as the teacher’s can bring some peace of mind, help smooth out the academic year, and bring back your child’s excitement when it comes to school!