It used to be that when a teenager performed poorly in school the cause was attributed to either lack of ability or to laziness. While these are both possible reasons for poor performance, it is becoming increasing apparent that teen learning disabilities are primarily the cause of poor school performance. Not only that, but frustration with a learning disability can cause teenagers to lash in unhealthy ways. They may become antisocial, withdrawn from friends and family or even become violent. The teen years are fraught with challenges that a still-developing psyche can have a hard time dealing with.
Recognizing teen learning disabilities
It is important to be able to recognize the possible warning signs of a teen learning disability. If it appears that you or someone you know might be struggling with teen learning disabilities, you should carefully consider the signs. Then, it is important to have a professional evaluation done in order to pinpoint the specific teen learning disability. Once the learning disability has been identified, techniques can be learned to help a teenager compensate for the disability.
Here are some common warning signs of teen learning disabilities:
- Short attention span: May have difficulty staying focused on one task for more than a few minutes. This includes sitting still and listening to a lecture or doing homework.
- Poor memory: Tendency to have trouble memorizing and retaining information.
- Difficulty following directions: Because of focus problems, memory problems or information processing problems, a teen with a learning disability may have trouble understanding and carrying out instructions.
- Inability to discriminate between/among letters, numerals, or sounds: May mix up letters and numbers, or may not be able to process auditory information.
- Poor reading and/or writing ability: It can be difficult for teens with learning disabilities to comprehend their reading or organize their ideas for effective written expression.
- Eye-hand coordination problems; poorly coordinated: May not be able to complete school projects, especially those requiring fine motor skills.
- Difficulties with sequencing: Putting things in order and learning to organize information (including math-related information) is another hallmark of teen learning disabilities.
- Disorganization and other sensory difficulties: Most of these problems have to do with information processing. Learning disabilities make it hard for teenagers to properly process information.
There are additional characteristics that may accompany teen learning disabilities. Here are some of these:
- Performs differently from day to day.
- Responds inappropriately in many instances, including with violence in some cases.
- Distractible, restless, impulsive.
- Says one thing, means another.
- Difficult to discipline.
- Doesn’t adjust well to change.
- Difficulty listening and remembering.
- Difficulty telling time and knowing right from left.
- Difficulty sounding out words.
- Reverses letters.
- Places letters in incorrect sequence.
- Difficulty understanding concepts or words.
- Delayed speech development; immature speech.
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your teenager with any regularity, it would be wise to visit a professional for an evaluation and treatment. Only when you know what the problem is can you begin to take steps to remedy the effects of a teen learning disability.
Learning Disability Warning Signs Sources:
- “Symptoms of Learning Disabilities,” Learning Disorders Association of America. [Online].