There are signs to watch out for and steps parents can take to help children who are struggling with a learning disorder.

Fall is in the air and the school year has arrived. It’s a new year of learning and experiences, yet reality sets in when the homework and studying ramps up at full speed.

While some children and teens can adapt to hitting the books, what happens when we notice this transition becoming stressful and tenuous? While many factors could be at play, a learning disorder may also be the culprit.

Below are possible signs that may indicate a possible learning disorder:

  • Anxiety about starting or going to school
  • Struggling with interpreting context
  • Struggling with social cueing
  • Memory recall problems
  • Problems sitting still in class
  • Reversed letters or numbers in writing or copying
  • Difficulty putting thoughts into words
  • Lack of class participation
  • Class disruptions
  • School refusal

There are steps you can take to help your child:

  1. In written form, send in a request to the school to have your child evaluated for an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  2. A neuropsychological evaluation can help diagnose ADD or ADHD, non-verbal learning disorders, Autism Spectrum disorders and other situations that may warrant medication to help with memory and/or focus. This test also helps with allowances of time for standardized tests.
  3. Talk to your child and try to decipher where the anxiety or difficulty lies.
  4. There are homework cafes for added support such as KUMON, school tutors, or online resources at

 Behavioral conditioning of proper homework habits is also crucial for success:

Children under the age of 13 should establish a daily routine for doing homework which is best performed in a communal area of the home like the kitchen or dining room.  This helps the child feel less lonely, as well as help the parent be in the area to monitor their work and help when asked.

It is important that parents do not do their children’s assignments but only assist in explanation, organization, learning study protocol and time management.  This type of routine will set up good study behavior as school progresses.

Another great way to help your child is to discuss what happened during the day at school while they unpack their notebooks and textbooks, spilling them onto the table.

Ask your child to explain to you what their current homework assignments are and their plan to complete the homework. Let them choose the order they would like to accomplish the tasks and create, with their input, a reasonable time-table to do this.

Ask your child to show you their finished assignment and provide positive validation for them completing the work.  This will build their confidence and expectations of their own selves.

…and of course, provide a healthy snack!

Lori Gordon-Michaeli, LCSW, of Farmington Hills, owns Journey Within LLC Behavioral Health Services in Southfield, MI. ( She earned her master’s in social work at the University of Michigan. In her practice, she uses various methods including EMDR, CBT, DBT, TRT, art and journaling. She made aliyah to Israel at age 18 and lived there until age 42. She studied at Haifa University and is is fluent in Hebrew. As a world traveler, she has a global view and a background in world religions and diversity.  

Read more: How EMDR Therapy Can Help

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