How do I know if my child has special needs?

In some cases a child may demonstrate signs of significant developmental delays from an early age or fail to reach certain milestones. In other instances where it may be harder to detect, it is especially important to be an active participant in your child’s education to look for signs of struggle. You should pay attention to your child’s exam scores and report cards and look for patterns that might suggest difficulty.

Speaking with your child’s teachers regarding his/her classroom performance and possible areas of struggle is critical – this should take place regularly throughout the year.

  • Does your child spend an inordinate amount of time on homework?

  • Does he/she make remarks like “I’m the stupidest one in my class” or “Why does school have to be so boring?” Children struggling in school sometimes express their frustration in this manner. The nature of your child’s disability could be less academic and more emotional/behavioral or social.

  • Is your child demonstrating a pattern of acting out in class or at home?

  • Does he/she seem overly aggressive?

  • Have you noticed a difficulty in forming friendships and interacting with other children of the same age?

If your child is demonstrating any of these problems they could be also be affecting him/her academically and impairing his/her ability to learn. If you suspect that your child might have a disability but are not sure, you should explore the idea of having a qualified professional conduct a comprehensive psychological assessment to better understand your child’s areas of strength and weakness. This could mean asking the school district to do it or pursuing private testing on your own.