(Closed) Help with DS learning disability

posted 6 years ago in Parenting
Post # 4
2095 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I would call the school and have them implement an IEP. This will give your child any help they might need while at school.

Post # 5
93 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Hi. I’m a school psychologist, so maybe I can help. The child psychiatrist said that DS has a learning disability in the area of reading and short-term memory problems are causing this? This is an outside agency right? Not the school? Is DS having difficulty at school (ie grades, etc) and have you met with the school regarding this (ie sst meetings, parent teacher conferences?)

Post # 7
93 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Sorry, I just noticed that you are in Canada. I am in the US and not familiar with the special education laws in Canada, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. Also I don’t have all the specific details of DS’s case, so this is just based on what you have said so far.


First, it is great that you are seeking help for DS and it is clear that you care. That right there is huge. Having someone who will consistently go the extra mile and spend the time is more important than having all the best evidence-based interventions in the world. I know that special education is confusing, but you are already ahead of the game. So feel good about that. 


I’m assuming they are using the discrepancy model to determine eligibility for special education. That means that when the psychiatrist said that DS has a learning disability she means there is a discrepancy of approximately two standard deviations (around 20 points) between cognition and achievement.  Once that is determined they look for areas of weakness in processing (such as visual, auditory, etc.) as an explanation of why there is the discrepancy between cognition and achievement. In this case it sounds like they determined the discrepancy is caused by weaknesses in working/short term memory and possibly attention. Short-term memory just refers to the ability to apprehend and hold, or transform, information in immediate awareness and then use it within a few seconds. A lot of students with ADHD have difficulties with short-term memory.


So with all that being said, it doesn’t really mean a lot for intervention. There aren’t specific reading interventions for students with short-term memory problems or visual processing problems etc. That is one of the weaknesses of the discrepancy model. It tells you what areas cognitively the student has weaknesses, but that information doesn’t lead to better interventions than not knowing about the weaknesses in short-term memory etc. So basically, the same types of interventions are beneficial for students regardless of if the learning disability is a result of a visual processing disorder or working memory.


So some ways to help ds with reading:

First- does ds have difficulty with fluency (the ability to read accurately and quickly) or with comprehension (ability to understand what is read) or both?


  1. Practice! I know when something is hard students don’t usually want to do it. But try to make it a special time. Let DS choose the books and make it special mommy and DS time. Try to get a mix of books including books at grade level and also books at DS’s current reading level. If you try to get DS to read books at current grade level it will just be frustrating for both of you. You can read those books to them and they can follow along. DS can read the books at the current reading level (I think you said around K) to you. This will build confidence because it won’t be too hard. Then you can start moving slowly up in difficulty.
  2. Phonological awareness is huge in learning to read. Practice these skills too. This includes rhyming (Dr Suess books are great for this), clapping syllables, segmenting syllables, etc. So you could be out and play a game like Ispy. For example, you see a spider and say I SPY a spi-der. Then DS has to figure out that spi-der is a spider.
  3. Ask comprehension questions while reading but also during TV etc. For example, “Where do you think Strawberry Shortcake is going” or “Why do you think Spongebob is angry at Mr. Crab”, “Do you think they will win the game? Why?”

So I know this is a lot of information but if you have questions or want to discuss the specifics of DS’s case, feel free to ask or PM me. Good luck! DS is lucky to have you in their corner. Laughing

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