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My son is 5 years old, his preschool teacher claims that he has difficulty with certain activities and recommends that he be evaluated for "learning disabilities". I'm not sure that there's really a need for this, what should I do?

We recommend to talk with the preschool teacher and to try to understand from her what types of difficulties she's seen and why she thinks that an evaluation for learning disabilities is necessary. In addition, it's a good idea to pay attention to a number of signs that are likely to point to a learning disability: does the child have difficulty learning the colors, numbers, shapes, and alphabet? Does he have difficulty understanding and following directions?

Does he have difficulty in or avoid activities like drawing, coloring, cutting with scissors, or putting together puzzles? Does he have trouble sitting at lesson time? How does he get along with friends and adults around him? Does he have trouble following the rules of games or working in groups? And more. If there are significant difficulties in a number of these areas, then it's likely that it's worthwhile to go for an evaluation these difficulties and their source will be clarified and it will be possible to treat them and to make things easier for the child in his entrance to school and beginning of his studies.

My daughter is in third grade - her teacher claims that she doesn't read on a level that's appropriate for her age and therefore she needs an evaluation, my gut feeling as a mother is that the girls is completely o'kay, what would you recommend for me to do?

There's nothing like the gut feeling of a mother who knows her daughter well, but together with this the teacher usually has the necessary knowledge and experience and therefore it's recommended to take her recommendation seriously. In order to help you make a decision easier, here are a few points for measuring the need for going for an evaluation: 1. Gaps in the grades between the different subjects or between the different skills that are learned within the same subject, for example, reading vs. understanding the material. 2. The level of grades in contrast to the amount of effort invested, for example, a students who invests long hours studying, but receives low grades. The homeroom and subject teachers' opinions are also important to consider. 3. Nitzan offers to everyone counseling services where you can receive professional advice from the field of evaluation and treatment on different subjects, and among them, the initial decision whether to take the child to a learning disability evaluation.

We have a nine-year-old boy, who is in 4th grade. He's a marvelous boy, smart, good-hearted, and socially accepted. He has an excellent memory and an excellent musical ear, but has difficulties in reading, writing, and math. We took him for evaluations and we were told that he's dyslexic and has ADHD. At school he receives all of the help he needs, including remedial education classes, but we feel this isn't enough, our child still can't read or write.

You're describing a child with a variety of difficulties, and certainly a child like this needs a lot of help, and the earlier that he'll be given the help, the situation will improve. We would be happy if you would come to us, to one of the Nitzan branches closest to your place of residence, in order to strengthen him and build a foundation of basic reading and writing skills that will serve him in the years to come in the school system.

In addition, we can help you as parents with training how to help your child at home, since our experience tells us parents have a strong intuition about what's happening with their children.

It's important to check that the child receives all of the hours he's entitled to within the school according to the findings of his evaluations. The evaluation report can be given to an integration committee (va'adat shiluv) in order to check his eligibility for additional hours of support.

My daughter (who was born premature and is a twin) is seven-years-old, entered into the first grade this year after staying an extra year in kindergarten. She has learning problems: in math, for example, if I ask her how much is one and two more, then she needs to count on her fingers. She also has problems with writing and paying attention. We took her for an evaluation when she was in kindergarten, who's purpose was to decide if to leave her for another year in kindergarten or to let her go up to first grade. The recommendation was to leave her in kindergarten and to help her with a remedial kindergarten teacher, and the recommendation was carried out. Today, an integration teacher sits with her twice a week, and at home she doesn't have any help, except for my husband and me. How can I help her advance so that she won't fall between the chairs?

Parent's help is very important and significant, mainly when receiving instruction how to help. The most important thing in treatment of young children is an accurate evaluation, since this is the age at which it's possible to make the most changes; therefore, we think that before anything else one should check within the school who is monitoring the child's progress and ensuring that she really receives all of the necessary help (since the girl receives inclusion hours (sha'ot shiluv), we assume that a monitoring of this type is being done). If the school has used up all of its available resources, you should consider doing an advancement evaluation, which is a didactic evaluation in addition to the one that was already done for her. This evaluation can be done at one of the branches of Nitzan.

In addition to this, in order to perform a differential evaluation between emotional causes and others that are related to attention deficit difficulties (among others), we at Nitzan recommend going to a child psychiatrist. At these clinics, they check for ADHD in order to discern if this is a problem that requires medication or if the problem is emotional and requires psychological treatment.

There are cases in which a number of different treatments need to be used together. It's important to stress additionally, that the encouragement and support of you the parents is very, very important to your child in order that she can cope effectively with the difficulties and failures that she experiences daily at school.

My son is in kindergarten in the school in our community, I'm interested to take him for a pre-first-grade evaluation before Passover, he is treated by a speech therapist and occupational therapist.

In fact, it is worthwhile to do an evaluation before first grade and also to consider leaving him for an extra year in kindergarten. In a situation like this, you should take him for a psychological evaluation, which can be done at the municipality's psychological services clinic for free. This should be done in coordination with the kindergarten's psychologist. Similarly, at Nitzan you can do advanced psychological and didactic evaluations in preparation for first grade and receive recommended treatment methods for kindergarten and grade school.

I have a boy in the sixth grade. I've already taken him for a number of evaluations in different places, including Nitzan. They told me that he doesn't have an attention-deficit problem, he's not dyslexic, and even so, he doesn't know how to read, it's difficult for him to write, he has a lot of spelling mistakes, and he has difficulty doing homework. I took him to special private tutors, but nothing has helped. The school gives no help. In class he repeatedly punished and nothing interests them.

We recommend that you gather all of the evaluations that he's done from kindergarten and all of the treatment summaries. Come with them to the Nitzan branch where you took him for the evaluation and request a meeting with the evaluator, then you can at one time and in an orderly manner to go over all of the material and receive an answer of what the child has.

My child learns in first grade and has trouble reading. I don't think he has a learning disability. Is the only solution to take him for an evaluation?

Not every child who has trouble learning to read is necessarily learning disabled. It could very well be that the method being used to teach reading just isn't appropriate for him. There are a wide variety of methods to teach reading and it's possible to try a different method. The most important thing is before anything else to receive help from professionals who are trained in the field of reading and writing and try to make a change. If there isn't any progress after this professional help, then it's possible that the child should be taken for an evaluation.

We are the parents of two children and the school system is requiring us to take both of them for evaluations. The girl is in kindergarten and the boy is in third grade. We would like to know if we should do the evaluations through the school or privately?

A didactic evaluation evaluates skills that are connected to learning: reading and writing ability, reading comprehension, memory and cognitive activities that are connected to and influence these processes, and therefore, learning.

A psychological evaluation can, in a case of need, complete the didactic evaluation and give a more complete picture regarding the child’s I.Q. (intellectual potential) and functioning in the emotional area, which also considerably influences the child’s learning and achievements. In general, the school system doesn’t offer almost at all didactic evaluations. There’s the option of doing a psychological evaluation through the educational psychology services clinic of the municipality.

A didactic evaluation can be done at Nitzan at one of the branches close to your place of residence.

My daughter is six and a little more years old and she begins first grade in September. She’s intelligent and she’s right now in the middle of learning to read. The problem is mostly in her speed of writing, which is very slow even in comparison to her classmates. It was suggested that maybe her neck and shoulder muscles need strengthening, and we’ll check this. Except for her writing speed, our daughter is definitely within the average range of her peers in all of the other skills, intelligence, etc. Are there other directions we should consider in addition to strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles?

We definitely recommend checking the option of strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles of your daughter. Similarly, we recommend to continue to monitor her progress, since it’s possible that there are additional reasons to slow writing, such as graphomotor difficulties, i.e., difficulties of hand-eye coordination, holding the pencil and sitting properly in the chair, which can affect the writing speed. In addition, it’s important to address the issue of slow writing in contrast to her functioning in other areas. In the future it will be possible to overcome this problem with the use of a computer.

In any case, at this age we recommend to practice, practice, practice…

I have a 14-year-old boy who suffers from learning disabilities and attention deficit problems. He's a wonderful child who gives all of his heart to music; however, besides this he has lots of problems at school. He almost doesn't go since it's boring for him and if he goes then he only goes in to a few of his classes, gets tired very quickly, and then comes back home. My question is: All of his absences from school act to his detriment, since we're talking about required learning, what do we do? Is there an educational setting in the Rechovot area that has a variety of interesting classes and activities, maybe even music studies?

It's certainly important to help your child to continue to remain in school with everything that goes along with this. It's worthwhile to go for psychological counseling to find the way to arouse in him motivation not to drop out and to keep going to school. It's a very good idea to search for him a high school setting where he can learn music and to develop in an area that he's good in and which he likes so much.