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Memory Problems in Five-Year-Old
Q: My five-year-old son is finishing preschool and he can't remember things like his address, colors, shapes, and names of family members. His teacher is trying to get a screening done, but says it is similar to the one she did. I don't know how to find out if something is wrong.
A: You are very wise to want to address the problems your son is having at this age. Difficulties like this with naming and remembering can lead to later struggles with learning how to read. We have a lot of information about warning signs for learning disabilities so we can give kids the supports they need before they fail. Take a look at LD and Your Child: An Age-by-Age Guide and What's LD? on FamilyEducation.com.
Here are some of the common signs of learning disabilities for preschoolers:
It would certainly be to your advantage to have your child evaluated. You have a right under federal law to request a free evaluation from your local school system. If you have any trouble getting started or if you want someone to help walk you through the system, contact the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities (www.aboutld.org) at 1-888-GR8-MIND. They will help you to find a parent support group in your community where you can get more assistance. They can also send you free information about learning disabilities, including their booklet Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources. I'd also read Susan Hall and Louisa Moats' book, Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years.
The best reason for getting an evaluation early is that research shows that if you identify and give appropriate supports to a child in kindergarten or first grade, there's a 90 percent chance that he will become at least an average reader. If you wait until much later, the odds of improving his skills sufficiently become much less.
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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.