5 Reasons Your Child Can Have Academic Difficulties

5 Reasons Your Child Can Have Academic Difficulties | HealthSoul

As society slowly becomes more aware of learning disabilities, many parents may still feel uncertain about recognizing the signs. For New York parents of children in need of a learning disability evaluation test in New York, we explore the most common reasons your child can have academic difficulties, as well as the evaluation process.

1. Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a disorder affecting the parts of the brain that process language. People with dyslexia have problems identifying speech sounds and learning to associate them to letters and words.

Intelligence and vision are not generally affected by dyslexia. While there is no cure, with emotional support, early assessment, and an individualized education program/tutoring, children with dyslexia can succeed in school.

Dyslexia symptoms in school-age children include:

  • Being far behind expected reading levels and having difficulty spelling
  • Difficulty in sounding out pronunciation of unfamiliar words
  • Needing unusually long amounts of time to complete reading or writing tasks
  • Issues discerning similarities and differences in letters and words in writing, and sometimes hearing
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading

Delaying the treatment of dyslexia leads to problems with learning in general, due to disadvantages in reading comprehension. The disadvantage compared with peers can lead to emotional and behavioral problems as well. Parents should also be aware that children who have dyslexia are at increased risk of having ADHD, and vice-versa.

2. Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of learning disabilities that affect a person’s ability to do tasks involving math. Because the difficulties can be rooted in different causes, the effects they have and appropriate treatment for them can vary. 

A person who struggles due to language processing difficulty will have different challenges than someone who struggles with visual-spatial perception, for example. A child with language processing challenges, on the other hand, may have trouble memorizing facts like multiplication tables, or applying their knowledge correctly when problem-solving.

Children with underdeveloped visual-spatial skills may understand the math, but have issues organizing the concepts on paper, or interpreting concepts written on the board or in text. 

Signs of dyscalculia in school-age children include:

  • Being skilled in reading and writing, yet having underdeveloped math skills
  • Issues with the concept of time – having difficulty remembering schedules, or assessing how much time a task will require
  • Understands math concepts, but struggles with computation and organization;
  • Difficulty playing strategy games [i.e., chess, role-playing video games (RPGs)], or keeping score when playing board and card games
  • Easily disoriented, having a poor sense of direction, and/or confused by changes in routine

Because math is so essential in day to day life, not treating dyscalculia can cause major problems both short and long term for people. Early intervention ensures children can get a solid foundation in math so that they can have the tools to build upon their knowledge and use it properly as they move through life.

3. Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a processing disorder affecting a person’s ability to express themselves in written form. Because writing involves a complex combination of fine motor skills (writing itself) and thinking skills (discerning what and how to communicate), dysgraphia can refer to a wide array of issues with writing.

Simply having bad handwriting does not mean a child may have dysgraphia. Other symptoms of dysgraphia in school-age children can include:

  • Tight or awkward pencil grip, or odd writing position
  • Large gap between comprehension levels presented in writing vs. speech
  • Tiring quickly while writing, and/or avoiding activities involving writing or drawing
  • Missing or incomplete words within sentences, and/or word spacing issues
  • Saying words out loud while writing

There are numerous strategies to help people with dysgraphia develop their writing skills. Children with dysgraphia who learn techniques to improve their written communication early will be better prepared to use them in the workplace.

4. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition consisting of several issues, including impulsive behavior, sustaining attention, and hyperactivity. There is no cure for ADHD, but early intervention helps children learn to cope with symptoms, resulting in better outcomes. 

ADHD is further classified as predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, or a combination of the two. Symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Predominantly Inattentive


      • Making careless mistakes, having difficulty in following through on instructions, or leaving chores/schoolwork unfinished
      • Appearing to not listen, even when spoken to directly, and/or being easily distracted
      • Frequently losing belongings even if needed for regular tasks, and/or struggling to organize tasks and activities


  • Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive


    • Staying seated takes great effort, often fidgets, taps, or squirms 
    • Talks a lot, has difficulty playing quietly, and/or interrupts conversations often
    • Struggles with patience and boundaries, i.e., waiting their turn in line, or disturbing others’ conversation/activity

ADHD is very difficult for children to cope with. Children with ADHD are more prone to accidental injury and academic struggle. Paired with difficulties in socializing, these challenges mean children with ADHD are more likely to struggle with poor self-esteem and are more susceptible to substance and alcohol abuse issues.

It’s also important to note that people with ADHD are more likely than other children to have other conditions, including (but not limited to) other learning disabilities, anxiety, behavioral and mood disorders, and/or autism

5. Medical Disabilities

Medical disabilities resulting in learning disabilities are typically brain-related. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions (a milder version of TBI) being the most common. These can cause, or worsen, specific learning disabilities, some of which are described above. They may also cause headaches, vision changes, or memory loss. 

Neurological disorders like epilepsy can also make learning more daunting for children. People with epilepsy can also experience loss of awareness and anxiety, which can be especially heightened for children in a school environment.

Signs of brain injury may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or headache
  • Vision changes or vacant staring
  • Confusion or memory issues

The treatment during the first year following an injury is considered the most important to achieve the best recovery outcome. There are a number of therapies that may be appropriate treatment, including physical, occupational, and speech.

The evaluation process

Evaluations are generally comprised of the following elements:

  • Interview with you: To find out more about your child’s development, and learn any relevant family history
  • Assessments: These can be tests or interactions to determine what your child knows and how they learn
  • Observation: An expert will observe how your child interacts with the environment and/or with others in their educational setting
  • Health exam: the evaluator will request a recent report from your child’s doctor regarding their general health
  • Other assessments: Some specific assessments may be necessary for further information, such as speech and language, and occupational or physical therapy evaluations, among others

What are my learning disability evaluation test options in New York?

For school-age children, New York parents have the following options:

  • Public School Students: the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team at your child’s school will evaluate them in the school setting within 60 days of you giving consent
  • Religious/Private/Charter School Students, or Not Enrolled: The Committee on Special Education (CSE) will evaluate your child either at their school, or the CSE location in your school district

Independent Assessment: The school district also allows you to choose your own evaluator. You may want to consider using a neuropsychological evaluation service provider like Neuro-Psych Doc. These services can provide a wider range of evaluations at one time, avoiding the need for multiple appointments. They also have time and resources to dedicate to your child’s evaluation that public evaluators overburdened by the pandemic may not have.