Learning Disabilities and Child Care

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Child care providers who include children with special needs may work closely with a young child who has a learning disability. Learning disabilities are problems that affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, analyze or store information. These problems can make it difficult for a child to learn as quickly as other children.

It is often difficult to identify a learning disability in young children, because there is a wide range in what is considered “normal” cognitive development in the early years. Most learning disabilities are discovered during the elementary years, when it becomes more obvious that a child is struggling to learn. However, child care providers may notice some signs of concern that suggest a learning disability. Child care providers should share any concerns about a child’s development with their parents. Early detection and intervention services can help minimize the impact of the disability. Refer to the article Tips for Child Care Providers to Communicate Concerns about Children’s Development with Parents for suggestions on how to approach parents with your concerns.

The following sections will provide more information about signs of concern and also ways to adapt your program to support their learning needs.

For more information on supporting children with special needs in a child care program, check out the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care section on Child Care for Children with Special Needs.