Children with learning disabilities

If your child has a learning disability, there are steps you can take to help them learn. Local support services may be able to guide you along the way and help you work out how best to communicate to aid their learning.

If your child is diagnosed with a learning disability, you may be able to help their understanding and learning with the following tips:

  • Be very clear when you speak. Don't use long or complex sentences or instructions.
  • Get face-to-face with your child. Come to their level and make eye contact.
  • Give one-stage rather than two-stage instructions, such as ''Put on your coat'' rather than "Put on your coat and do up the buttons so we can go".
  • Reduce the clutter in a child's life. Instead of lots of toys to play with, give them two or three at a time. Encourage them to make clear choices, such as, "Would you like to play with the cat or the rabbit?"

Dr Martin Ward Platt, consultant paediatrician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, says that loving your child and including them in stimulating family life is the best thing you can do. Make sure that your child is growing up in a household where they are:

  • included in plenty of conversation
  • encouraged to communicate and participate in activities
  • read to by you

Assistance and support for learning

Your GP or health visitor should be able to let you know about the support services in your area. These organisations might include:

  • Family Information Services in every local authority area. These provide contact for all services for parents and carers, including services for children and young people with disabilities up to the age of 25.
  • Information, Advice and Support Services provide information, advice and support to disabled children and young people, and those with special educational needs and their parents.
  • Mencap, the learning disabilities charity, has information on local parents' groups.
  • The National Children's Bureau (NCB) has information on special educational needs and disability.
  • Scope has an online community providing tips and advice on all aspects of caring and disability.

Useful Links •Care and support •Dentistry for people with special needs •Disability and independent living •Family and Childcare Trust•Mencap: the learning disabilities charity•Information, Advice and Support Services Network •Scope's online community Related Videos (Embedded) •