Some associated conditions may be diagnosed during pregnancy or immediately after birth, but in some cases the learning disability will not present itself for weeks, months or even years.
The early signs of a learning disability can be difficult to spot, but there are some indications to look out for.
- Babies may have trouble nursing, for example sucking and digesting.
- In the early stages children may show delays with sitting or standing.
- Pre-school children may be slow to talk or have difficulty in pronouncing words and short sentences, or learning new words.
- School-aged children may find reading and writing difficult or have problems understanding information and instructions.
- Some children discover they have a learning disability when they become teenagers and their life becomes more complex, with new emotions and responsibilities.
After receiving a diagnosis, some parents find support and information from professionals is essential, and finding out as much as you can about your child's condition can help you to cope and plan for the future. However, other parents find their emotions are enough to deal with at this time, and prefer to get to know their child as an individual before finding out more about their learning disability.
I knew straight away my daughter had Down's syndrome, having had three daughters before. I just wanted to go straight home where I could feel secure.
Reports have indicated that parents sometimes feel isolated after a diagnosis, as professionals can be insensitive or fail to give timely or accurate information about their child's diagnosis. Professionals can be confused by some characteristics of learning disability, and experts themselves can struggle to make an accurate diagnosis.
In many cases, there are no obvious physical signs that someone has a learning disability, which can also make it harder to diagnose. It is often parents or teachers who first become aware that a child is having difficulties in certain areas of their life, long before any assessments are carried out.
If your child has not received a diagnosis but you have concerns about their development, you should contact your GP who should be able to offer advice and refer you to a specialist if necessary.