Where Every Family Matters

Not Keeping Up: Is It a Learning Disability?

If your child demonstrates that she's overwhelmed by school work, intervention may be in order.

The school year started out great, but now your child is struggling. What happened? She doesn’t  understand the new math concept and she’s avoiding homework altogether. A quick peek at her grades and your internal red flag starts soaring. What’s up?

Once teachers start getting into class curriculum, things move quickly. If a child gets behind, it can be difficult to catch up, resulting in a fall that can last all year long. Is your child just having trouble with a difficult concept or is it a learning disability? What should you do?

First, breathe. Second, learn more. Third, reach out.

Learning Disability: A LOADED TERM

Schools are committed to seeing all kids succeed. Try not to become overcome by emotions as you think about your child. The “right” frame of mind is one that firmly believes support and help will get her on the right track.

So … think. Have you always had to provide extra support for your child? Are you doing more for her than you should? What do your instincts tell you?

Email your child’s teacher and request a meeting.  Bring a list of your concerns with you and bring a notebook, too, so you can keep notes. Your child’s teachers will be your partners as you work together to figure out what’s happening with your child.

Systems in Place

When a child fails to progress in class, the teacher may first recommend some “Tier 2” supports at school. Tier supports are a part of the RTI2 network (Response to Intervention). Tier 2 supports are interventions on top of typical instruction. Your child will probably be relieved to be getting extra help from the supports. Meanwhile, you should follow up with the teacher six weeks after the supports have started to check on your child’s progress. If data shows it’s working, great! If data shows more support is needed, the teacher may recommend special education testing.

Special Education

If your child’s team decides to pursue special education testing, you will need to meet with school staff to discuss your child’s data and the next steps for her. They may recommend special education services and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  Let the data show you how your child is progressing and work with the teacher as a team to come up with solutions. Try to keep your emotions aside; there’s everything good in helping your child!

If your child is eligible for special education services, her team will work on creating an individualized education plan.


• She’s slow to learn the connection between letters/sounds
• She makes consistent reading/spelling errors
• She’s slow to remember/recall facts
• She’s up and down with skills
• She confuses math signs, has difficulty with word problems and learning to tell time
• She’s slow to learn new skills and relies heavily on memorization
• She’s impulsive and doesn’t plan
• She avoids writing
• You see poor coordination and she’s prone to accidents
• She avoids reading out loud
• She has difficulty understanding body language and facial expressions
• She refuses to do work


Brain Balance Center
790 Jordan Road, Ste. 110 Franklin | 615-224-6625
ADHD, dyslexia, processing disorders and spectrum disorders through an integrated approach. Academic, social and behavioral issues.

Center for Dyslexia at MTSU
1301 E. Main St., Murfreesboro | 615-494-8800
Offers student testing/evaluations to identify patterns of strengths & weaknesses.

The Diagnostic Center
at Currey Ingram Academy
6544 Murray Lane, Brentwood | 615-507-3171
Provides psychoeducational, speech/language and occupational therapy evaluations for students from public and private schools across the country.

Expressways To Learning
Franklin, Goodlettsville, Hendersonville | 615-851-9703
Dyslexia, autism, ADD/ADHD and gifted students. Specializes in “Learning Differences.”

Franklin Speech & Learning
4731 Trousdale Drive, Ste. 12 Nashville
2117 Hillsboro Road, Franklin
7146 Nolensville Road, Nolensville
Consultations, assessments, treatments and counseling for learning differences, including ADD/ADHD, dyslexia and more.

Learning Lab
5500 Maryland Way, Ste. 110, Brentwood | 615-377-2929
2000 Glen Echo Road, Ste. 208, Nashville | 615-321-7272
Assessments include dyslexia and ADHD testing and preschool screening. Also offers cognitive skills training and Gateway Academy, a customized learning program.

Learning Matters
3511 Belmont Ave., Nashville | 615-739-0547
Diagnostic assessments and intensive instruction for K – 12 students. Also provides a learning disabilities/dyslexia support group.

5554 Franklin Pike, Ste. 200, Nashville | 615-953-8899
2042 Lascassas Pike, Ste. A7, Murfreesboro | 615-867-8717
Cognitive skills assessments and brain training to target weak skills.

The Tutoring Center
5021 Hughes Crossing, Ste. 160, Franklin | 615-721-8844
Free diagnostic assessments, individualized programs, one-on-one instruction.

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Learning Assessment Clinic
110 Magnolia Cir., Nashville | 615-936-6588
Academic assessments through evaluation and consultation for students ages 5 – 25 who have learning challenges.

Tina Pratt is a mom of two. She’s a former PreK- 5 special education teacher who now works as a behavior coach. She enjoys finding ways to embed lessons into everyday fun!

About the Author

Tina Pratt

Tina Pratt is a mom of two and a behavior intervention coach. She has a masters in special education and early childhood education.