Recognizing Learning Disabilities


The Early Childhood Years

The Early Childhood years are the formative years of a child. This stage lays the foundation for the primary education and childhood development. Before your child enters Primary school he/she must master certain concepts and skills which serve as benchmarks to ensure his/her development and growth. Although every child learns differently, failure to master these concepts will lead to a set back in the child’s Primary education. Below are some of the skills that a child should have mastered before he/she enters Grade one.

  • Observe class rules
  • Take turns
  • Use the scissors to cut lines
  • Establish which side is left or right
  • Understand time concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow
  • Stand quietly in a line
  • Follow directions agreeably and easily
  • Pay attention for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Hold a crayon and pencil correctly
  • Share materials such as crayons, toys and blocks
  • Know eight basic colours. These include the primary colours, some secondary colours, a tertiary colour and a shade
  • Recognise and write the letters of the alphabet in upper- and lowercase forms
  • Know the relationship between letters and the sounds they make
  • Recognise basic sight words such as the
  • Read simple sentences for example: I am a boy.
  • Spell his/her first and last name
  • Write consonant-vowel-consonant words such as bat and fan
  • Retell a story that has been read aloud
  • Identify numbers 1 to 20
  • Know basic shapes such as a square, triangle, rectangle, circle,
  • Know his/her address and telephone number
  • Know his/her parents and siblings name/s
  • Use the bathroom properly (for instance, wipe him/herself, wash his/her hands and flush the toilet)
  • Know the name of his/her school, teacher and some of his classmates
  • Listen carefully and follow instructions

Types of Learning Disabilities

  • Dyslexia (inability to read)
  • Dyscalculia (Dyscalcula) inability in mathematical reasoning)
  • Dysgraphia (difficulty with syntax, that is arrangement of words in sentences)
  • Visual and auditory difficulties

How can I tell if my young child may have a learning disability?

Learning disability is a neurological disorder which causes difficulty in organising, remembering and expressing information.  Early indicators of LD include speech delay, poor motor coordination, perception and academic abilities.

Children with learning disabilities are intelligent beings with unique learning styles. Some have average or above average intelligence and are gifted people. Teachers and parents who identify LD signs in their children early should access the appropriate intervention and teaching-learning opportunities to address their disabilities. The signs below should not be used to diagnose learning disability in a child. That should be done by a special educator. Here are some of the signs to help you to find out if your young child may have a learning disability.

  • Your child has not mastered the basic concepts and skills needed for entry into Grade one, including mastery of the government standard assessment Grade One Learning Profile and Grade one Diagnostic Test. For instance the child:
    • Confuses letters or writes them in reverse e.g. b for d
    • Has challenges tying his/her shoe lace, manipulating objects, using a manipulative or buttoning his clothes
    • Cannot distinguish left to right easily
    • Does not use the bathroom facilities properly
  • Your child does not act similarly to other children in his/her age
  • He/she has a speech problem
  • The child does exceptionally well at some things and poorly at others
  • He/she has excessive amount of energy or is hyperactive
  • Your child has an attention deficit syndrome. He/she will forget things or loses things
  • Your child does not understand or follow instructions very well
  • Your child plays with children younger than he/she is or prefers to play alone


Where can I get help for my child?                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Mico Child Assessment and Research in Education (CARE)

5 Manhattan Road (off Marescaux Road in Cross Roads)

Kingston 5

Telephone: 929-7720/754-4757

The Learning Centre (The Jamaica Association for Children with Learning  

7 Leinster Road (beside St. Hughs High School in Cross Roads)

Kingston 5

Telephone 929-4341/929-4348/960-

Email:[email protected]


McCam Child Care and Development

231 Old Hope

Kingston 6

Telephone: 977-0189/977-6496