Immunizations? Check. After-school activities? Check. Diagnosis of a first-grader’s learning disability? Not on most parents’ back-to-school lists.
The reality is the first six weeks of the school year are the most critical to identifying potential learning challenges, like dyslexia. Asking questions when you visit your pediatrician for that back-to-school check-up is a great place to start.
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.
Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD, FAAP, is equally proud of her roles as chief pediatric officer for RealAge.com and mom of three active young children. The nationally renowned parenting expert and board-certified pediatrician has practiced pediatric and adolescent medicine for more than 14 years and maintains a successful private practice in New York City.
She is also an assistant clinical professor in pediatrics at The Mount Sinai School and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, people often refer to Dr. Trachtenberg as a “modern-day Dr. Spock,” thanks to her pediatric expertise and her approachable manner. As comfortable in front of the camera as she is with her young patients, Dr. Jen has appeared on numerous television programs, including NBC’s Today show, CNN’s Headline News, and many others.
She is also the author of parenting book “Good Kids, Bad Habits.” Her Broadcast reel can be seen here.