I am concerned about LD or a Developmental Lag and my husband thinks our daughter is simply not trying hard enough in school. What should we do?
Dr. Horowitz, thanks for your help with the LD vs. Developmental Lag question, but I have one more layer to that question: As I said before, I am concerned my daughter might have a learning disability or a developmental lag, but my husband thinks she just needs to work harder on her school work. I want to help my daughter, but maybe my husband is right. I don’t know what to do?
When it comes to their children, it is not unusual for parents to have different perspectives on any number of things, and school work is no exception. But don’t allow your daughter and her struggles with learning to be the target of your disagreements!
It sounds like you both agree that she is underachieving in school and that neither of you can put your finger on why or what to do about it. Step #1 is to have a family pow-wow and try to put your finger on any known obstacles that might be contributing to your daughter’s lack of progress. A teacher who is frequently absent, a missing text book (that she is embarrassed to admit that got lost), a class that is moving too fast and for which she was not well prepared by last year’s teacher…. these are the types of things that could, at least in part, explain your daughters struggle. If a learning disability is suspected, a candid discussion about what that means, how you all feel about the possibility and a decision to discover whether it is true should take place without delay. And a word of advice: don’t play the blame game! Instead, think about solutions.
If she indeed has a learning disability, hard work alone will not be enough to turn things around. With the help of professionals, she will need to work “smarter, not just harder” and even with the best help, turning frustration into success will take time. Having your husband as an active participant in the discovery process seems like a sure way to get your daughter the help she needs. It will be important to have him as a ready and willing partner if/when it’s time to approach school personnel and formally request assistance in determining whether a learning disability is at play.
You should have your daughter tested for a learning disability. Go with your hunch - your intuition. Too often, I have parents saying to me, I had a feeling way back in 1st grade but didn't act on it fast enough. We just waited to see if it was a developmental lag. Don't wait. Your time frame is this. From the beginning of Kindergarten to the middle of first grade is what we call Intervention. After that it is called Remediation. That means you just play "catch up." This could go on for years and years. That is why it is CRUCIAL that you get the intervention during those early years. Don't wait - call an educational neuropsychologist, and get your daughter tested so that you can move forward as a family.