In the United States, 1 in 5 people have learning and thinking differences like ADHD and dyslexia. This doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. But it might mean they need to do things in a different way or need extra support to build skills like learning how to read.
Some teachers don’t know how to assess kids’ skills in their home language. So if a child does poorly on a reading test, it can be hard to tell if the trouble is with their reading skills or their English language skills.
But asking the right questions can help teachers dig deeper. It also helps to avoid unwanted outcomes like:
ELLs getting identified as having a learning disability when they actually need more support in learning English. This may be more likely to happen to older students.
ELLs having learning disabilities that get overlooked. This means they go without the support they need to make progress in school. This may be more likely to happen to younger students.
Kids in bilingual programs are more likely to be correctly diagnosed with a learning difference. That’s because bilingual teachers can tell if kids are struggling with a skill like reading in their home language as well as in English.
It helps to interview the family about when the child started walking and talking. Ask when the child started going to school and if there have been any gaps in their schooling. Also ask about social skills and activities like playing, watching TV, or helping out at mealtime.
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learning and thinking differences