We miss Tim Tebow here in Denver. My middle boy was a big fan of his when he was with the Gators and then even more of a fan when he was a Bronco. Now with the New York Jets, Tim Tebow is known for a few things – most notably his propensity for kneeling on the field in prayer, aka “Tebowing.” What most football fans don’t know about the quarterback is that he’s dyslexic, as disclosed in this new NY Post article. Most Americans also don’t know that 15-20% of the U.S. population share his learning disability.
Diagnosed at age 7, Tebow is an example of the importance of early detection of learning disabilities. With back-to-school on the horizon, Tebow’s disclosure is timely — a peg to a story busting myths about learning disabilities that can give parents critical information on early identification. The first six weeks of the school year are critical to ensure a year of learning isn’t lost.
Asking questions when you visit your pediatrician for that back-to-school check-up is a great place to start. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, early detection makes all the difference – leading to better outcomes and school success for all children.
Below are 4 tips – a “learning check-up” checklist – addressing what parents can ask their pediatrician from Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD (aka “Dr. Jen”). Dr. Jen is a board-certified pediatrician at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a mom of two children who has practiced pediatric medicine for more than 14 years.
- Don’t Wait – While early warning signs of learning disabilities can be identified in children as young as 3 or 4-years of age according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (LD.org), most children with learning disabilities are recognized around third grade. Providing early help is a child’s chance for future success. NCLD’s Interactive LD Checklist is a helpful tool for parents who are unsure of the signs of a possible learning disability.
- Write it Down – In advance of your child’s back-to-school or annual physical appointment, keep a written record of any observations of your child struggling so that you can share specific examples with your pediatrician. As there’s no single indicator or profile to fit everyone, parents can refer to this list of signs of LD for guidance.
- Come Prepared – If available, bring report cards, samples of schoolwork & notes from parent-teacher meetings. It’s also helpful to know your family’s medical history & whether or not any relatives are known to have had a learning disability or other disorder that impacts learning. Knowledge is power – the more background information you can provide, the better.
- Be Assertive – It’s absolutely within reason to ask your child’s pediatrician to write a letter or join in a phone call with teachers, the school psychologist or other personnel. Don’t be afraid to speak up & set forth clear and actionable next steps. Additionally, LD.org’s Resource Locator Tool connects parents with thousands of local, state & national resources for specialist referrals, support groups and LD-related info.