by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Learning disabilities in children are on the rise. If you’re concerned your child may have learning problems, there is hope. There are plenty of things you can do as a parent to be proactive and help your child succeed in the world.
What are Learning Disabilities?
A learning disability is defined as the inability of someone to gather and absorb information at the same rate as someone their own age. There are many different types of learning and behavioral disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, and developmental disorders such as autism and Asperger’s syndrome. This is only to name a few.
Symptoms of Learning Disabilities
Symptoms of learning disabilities in children vary depending on the type and severity of the disorder. However, any type of learning disability will usually result in problems in school and/or emotional disturbances.
These symptoms include:
If your child often seems frustrated and aggressive, it could be the result of a learning disability or developmental disorder. Children often experience frustration in school when they can’t understand the material and may lash out verbally at their teachers or become aggressive on the playground. This is especially true of children who have impatient teachers or classmates who don’t understand them.
Some children with learning problems will become depressed because they’re unable to keep up with their classmates. They may be picked on or made fun of for incorrect answers in the classroom and don’t understand what they’re doing wrong. Emotional sensitivity and lack of interest in attending school are common signs.
Children who are anxious to go to school are either being bullied or they’re having problems learning. Children naturally love to learn so if they’re fearful about getting on the bus, a learning disability may be the issue.
You may find poor report cards and teacher’s notes stuffed deep in their closet or toy chest. They may be too embarrassed to tell you that they really don’t understand the material. Avoiding school altogether is another common sign.
Learning disabilities don’t just affect children in school. Your child may be very puzzled when given instructions to perform a simple task or when trying to play a game or sport. They may have a poor understanding of the rules and look as though they are cheating on the game. If your child often appears puzzled and confused when you explain things, he or she may have a learning or developmental disorder.
- Social Problems
ADHD, autism, and Asperger’s syndrome can not only affect learning and development, it can also create social problems for your child. Does he or she talk too loud, interrupt conversations, avoid certain sensory stimuli, or seem to completely ignore social cues? If so, a developmental disability could be the cause.
- Poor Grades
Poor grades are the most common sign of a learning disability in children. However, not all children with learning disabilities will have bad grades. Especially a child with Asperger’s syndrome. They are often above-average in intelligence but may struggle with simple social behaviors.
Causes of Learning Problems in Children
Oftentimes, parents with learning disabilities will have children with the same condition. Though the conditions may not present in the exact same way. For example, a mother with dyslexia may have a child with ADHD or dyscalculia (number confusion).
- Developmental Disorders
Developmental disorders such as auditory processing disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, autism or Asperger’s syndrome often struggle the most in school, at home, and in social situations. This is because the intelligence is there but the ability to implement the knowledge and successfully understand social cues is lacking.
- Physical or Sexual Trauma
Children who have experienced physical or sexual trauma in their developing years may develop neurological problems and learning disabilities. Trauma re-wires the brain. It is very important for children who’ve been traumatized to get the counseling and support they need. Emotional support is the backbone of learning improvement for these children.
- Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins are a common contributor to learning problems in children. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked. Chemical fragrances, lotions, cosmetics, air fresheners, and cleaning supplies can all contribute to developmental and learning problems in children. Bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in plastics, is an endocrine disruptor that has been scientifically proven to disrupt healthy brain development.
- Nutritional Deficiencies
Few children get the type of well-rounded, healthy diet they need to be healthy and succeed in school and life. Processed foods, fast food, and microwavable meals contain synthetic chemicals, dyes, sweeteners, and preservatives that interfere with normal brain development.
They also have little to no nutritional value and do cannot support neurological health. Millions of children are missing vital nutrients in their diet and suffering the consequences.
The Natural Approach to Child Learning Problems
- Patience and Protection
The first thing to do with any child with a learning disability is to provide them with plenty of patience and protection. Children who are unable to learn the same way as their siblings and peers are already in a very vulnerable and fragile emotional state. Scolding, punishment, bullying, and neglect are not healthy approaches to dealing with a child with a learning problem.
Your child is confused and lost. No matter how difficult his behaviors, it is very important he feels safe both at home and in school. Learning problems and emotional issues should be dealt with immediately. Talk with your child’s pediatrician about having him or her evaluated for learning or developmental issues.
Once you get a diagnosis, you’ll be able to be an advocate for your child wherever he or she goes. Babysitters, teachers, and other caregivers will understand the disability and how best to interact.
- Elimination of Physical Causes
Food allergies, poor diet, and environmental toxins could all be contributors to your child’s learning delays. For my younger patients, I recommend two comprehensive tests that will easily and quickly get to the bottom of any physical causes of your child’s learning problems.
These two tests include:
- Alcat Comprehensive Wellness 1-Kit – This kit will reveal exactly which foods and chemicals your confused child might be sensitive to, and how severely. Just take it to the nearest LabCorp office for a quick blood drawing and they pack it and send it off for you. You should receive your results in 7-10 business days!
- Doctor’s Data Comprehensive Stool Analysis x 3 DD Kit – Oftentimes, poor digestion is a contributing factor in learning disorders. This test evaluates for parasitic infection, leaky gut syndrome, and candida while measuring dysbiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes, digestion capability, and even a count of all probiotics!
- Dietary Changes
Cutting gluten and food dyes from your child’s diet may be one of the best things you’ve ever done to improve her learning. Gluten intolerance affects 1 out of every 100 children and it sometimes does not present with the usual gastrointestinal symptoms.
Even if a blood test tells you you’re child is not intolerant to gluten, it still may help to remove it for a trial period. Also, food dyes have been scientifically proven to cause behavioral and developmental problems in children. Remove them from your child’s diet immediately.
To support learning and development, be sure to feed your child a diet rich in nutritious foods such as organic vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, beans, brown rice, wild-caught fish, chicken, and healthy fats such as coconut oil and olive oil. Walnuts, flax seed, and fish are healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids that support your child’s developing brain.
No matter how nutritious your child’s diet, there may still be some nutritional gaps. If you’re already giving your child a multivitamin now, you might want to consider stopping it. Most commercial multivitamins do nothing to improve your child’s health and may even harm it. Unfortunately, these vitamins are nothing more than synthetic chemicals filled with unnecessary preservatives.
I have created a line of whole-food dietary supplements designed to improve you and your child’s health.
Here is the combination of supplements I prescribe to my young patients with learning problems:
For children 12 and under, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Children’s Foundation Vitamins.
This complete vitamin for children contains:
- Vitamin A – 4,000 IU
- Vitamin C – 350 mg
- Vitamin D3 – 400 IU
- Vitamin E – 50 IU
- Vitamin K – 10 mcg
- Thiamine – 10 mg
- Riboflavin – 10 mg
- Niacin – 10 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 10 mg
- Folic Acid – 400 mcg
- Vitamin B12 – 25 mcg
- Biotin – 30 mcg
- Pantothenic Acid – 10 mg
- Calcium – 50 mg
- Iron – 1.25 mg
- Iodine – 75 mcg
- Magnesium – 50 mcg
- Zinc – 2.5 mg
- Selenium – 10 mcg
- Manganese – 100 mcg
- Chromium – 25 mcg
- Molybdenum – 1 mcg
- Potassium – 25 mg
- Inositol – 5 mg
- PABA USP – 5 mg
- Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 100 mcg
- Boron – 25 mcg
Diamond Nutritional’s Children’s Foundation Vitamins provides all the nutrition your child needs in a whole-food preservative-free foundation!
Learning disabilities are often a sign of low gut bacteria. It may surprise you to know that there is a very strong connection between gut and brain health. As a matter of fact, the gut is often called “the second brain”. This is why I strongly recommend adding a probiotic formula to your child’s diet. Diamond Nutritional’s Children’s Probiotic Formula is designed for children ages 12 and under.
This formula contains seven strains of good bacteria with 5 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of live, active cultures in each scoop. These seven strains are lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus casei, bifidobacterium longum, streptococcus thermophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum, and bifidobacterium lactis.
When your child’s learning is affected, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement is critical as it supports brain development and neurological health. For children 12 and under, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Balanced Omega Chewables.
Unlike other fish oil supplements, this formula offers a great flavor kids love with no fishy aftertaste. Each dose contains 300-600 mg of molecularly-distilled EPA/DHA for optimum skin health.
If your child has a learning disability, you’re not alone and it’s not the end of anything. This is an opportunity for you and your child to work together to learn the best way to approach the situation and help her navigate her world.
Your child is special and unique and even though he has trouble with learning, you may find he can really teach you a lot. Invest in your child’s future and get him ready for the world by testing for physical causes of learning trouble and adding necessary supplements to his diet. You’ll be amazed at the positive results!