Kids Are Suffering from Learning Disabilities. Doctors Can Help.

By John Madden- Associate Dean of Students
October 19, 2017

One in five American schoolchildren has a learning disability.[1] Very few receive the support they need. Doctors can change that — by identifying learning disabilities earlier.

Obviously, learning disabilities make it harder for students to succeed in school. Less than a quarter of students with learning disabilities achieve average or above average grades.[2] Students with learning disabilities are twice as likely to drop out of school as the general population.[3]

Learning disabilities hurt students outside the classroom too. Dyslexia — which prevents people from correctly interpreting letters and numbers — can make it challenging for students to communicate with their peers.[4] Kids with attention deficit disorder may miss certain social cues or act impulsively or aggressively.[5][6]

The results are troubling. Nearly half of parents of children with learning disabilities report that their kids have been bullied. Half of children with learning disabilities were suspended or expelled in 2011.[7]

Children with learning disabilities are perfectly capable of succeeding if they receive early and proper treatment.[8] Students with ADD who take medication for the condition have higher reading and math scores.[9] Special accommodations like extended test time or more personalized instruction can go a long way to help these students perform well.

Doctors could help identify kids with disabilities, but they’re currently ill-equipped to do so. Only half of healthcare professionals feel confident in their abilities to identify learning disabilities. Only one in five regularly inquires about potential signs of learning and attention issues.[10]

That needs to change. That’s why, at St. George’s University, we help our graduates identify early signs of disabilities in children. For example, our Pediatrics Rotation encourages students to be aware of children’s mental and emotional development in educational settings.[11]

Children with learning disabilities are often left behind. The next generation of doctors must step up to protect these vulnerable adolescents so they can achieve their full potential.













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