child smiling at the blackboardAs parents, we all want our children to develop “normally”, to achieve the developmental milestones in a timely manner and to have an easy time with learning. We have dreams and aspirations for our children from the moment they are born. This is a fundamental reason why many children with learning disabilities go undiagnosed for so long. It is normal for parents to turn a blind eye when language development is occurring.

It’s easy for parents, teachers and even doctors to brush off delays and chalk it up to the fact that everyone develops at their own time and pace. While this is true, and for some children it is simply a matter of being a “late bloomer,” for others it’s an indication of a language disability.  The most important thing to remember about learning disabilities is these children typically have average to above average intelligence; they simply learn differently than others. Language based learning disabilities are hereditary.

Typical Language Milestones

  • 6-12 months: Lots of babbling spontaneous initial sounds – b, m, d, p, l
  • 12-24 months: Repeating words gaining a basic vocabulary of high frequency words starting to strings 2-3 words together
  • 2 – 3 years: Starting to speak in sentences can repeat everything starting to recognize some letters and their sounds
  • 3-5 years: Can rhyme can recognize most letters and their sounds can begin to write own name (usually capital letters) can verbally isolate sounds – “what sound does ball start with?” etc.

Don’t Ignore The Signs

As a parent, you will probably have a gut instinct if your preschool child is not developing language properly. Don’t ignore these signs. Not speaking at all by age two is something to be concerned about. The inability to rhyme by age 3 or 4 is a big clue that a language disability might be surfacing. As children begin school, the language disability will become more obvious. Children may have trouble following directions, feel overwhelmed with classroom routines, and avoid doing seat work.

By Kindergarten and first grade, children should begin decoding words and becoming emergent readers. By second grade, children should be reading. Most children learn to read with ease but children with language-based learning disabilities require more direct instruction. Auditory processing difficulties associated with language-based learning disabilities hinder a child’s ability to blend and decipher sounds needed to decode words. Formal instruction is needed and early intervention is key.

Don’t ignore your instincts! As parents, you know your child best. Be proactive and get the help they need and deserve. Special schools for children with learning disabilities can make all the difference in the world.


Sharon Reichstein is a mom and a teacher working at MindWare Academy in Ottawa, Canada. Mindware Academy is a leader in the Ottawa region in education for students with various learning disabilities. Following the Orton-Gillingham and Real Spelling methodology,  children with language-based learning disabilities receive a multi-sensory program that provides results and success.If you have concerns about your child and suspect some language-based learning difficulties,  please feel free to take the Phonological Awareness Quiz.


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