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Signs of Disability in Kindergarteners

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Eileen S. Marzola, Ed.D.

Q: What are the signs of a disability for kindergarten kids? I'm a part-time homeschool teacher and have been teaching for three years. I'm interested in homeschooling a cousin who is already experiencing problems at his new school. The principal and teacher want to talk to his parents.

A: An excellent resource for information about how to identify kids with possible learning problems is the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities (1-888-GR8-MIND). You can request a free booklet from them called Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources where you can get loads of tips about identifying and treating learning disabilities. Some of the common signs of learning disabilities that CCLD mentions that might show up in preschool and kindergarten children include:

Speaking later than most children
Pronunciation problems
Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word
Difficulty rhyming words
Trouble learning numbers, alphabet, days of the week, colors, shapes
Extremely restless and easily distracted
Trouble interacting with peers
Difficulty following directions or routines
Fine-motor skills slow to develop
Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents

It's important to remember that most people will, at one time or another, see one or more of these warning signs in their children and that is normal. If a cluster of these characteristics is apparent over a long period of time, however, it might be time to seek professional help to determine if a learning disability might be present.

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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

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