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Working with Families

The following are past questions and answers from Dr. Larry Silver on this topic.

Is LD passed on to offspring?

I was diagnosed with LD in math and reading when I was in eighth grade. Recently, my daughter has had problems with reading and writing. She is 6 years old and I was just wondering if LD is passed on to offspring.

There is a strong family pattern for learning disabilities. I would encourage you to keep a close eye on your daughter. If she continues to struggle, ask the school to evaluate her for possible learning disabilities.

Who should I go to first to find out if my child has dyslexia — the school or an outside professional?

How does one find out if their child has dyslexia? I have approached the teachers regarding this and they told me to seek help outside school. Yet when I speak to professionals outside school they say it is up to the school to test the child. Can you give me advice to help my daughter before she falls any further behind in school? She is entering third grade.

Thank you,


Submit a letter to the principal requesting a meeting to discuss your child's difficulties. The principal must schedule this meeting within 30 days. At the meeting, present your concerns and ask that the school evaluate her to clarify if she has learning disabilities. The principal must respond by either agreeing or saying that the school will observe her and test her if she continues to have problems. If you disagree, you can request an appeal process.

What do parents do when they don't agree about how to handle a struggling child?

I am in desperate need of help or guidance. I have a beautiful 12-year-old who has always really struggled in school. This year has been the worst academically. I don't think her Catholic school has any resources to help kids who struggle. Her SAT/reading test scores have always been low. She tends to have difficulty remembering small tasks. She runs out of time taking tests. Therefore, they are incomplete. The quality of homework is poor and sentences she writes are usually incomplete and/or misspelled. She also has difficultly meeting timeframes.

She has seen a counselor in the past and was tested for ADD/ADHD with negative results. My heart goes out to her because her self-esteem is at an all-time low and I have sat with her many nights watching her cry. She’s usually doing homework until 10:30 at night (we get home at 5:00pm) and I am usually in bed by midnight after I correct it. I write her sticky notes daily to remember to do things. I feel so helpless as a parent because she works twice as hard with poor results.

Her struggles not only occur at school, but even at home. We feel we have to follow her around to ensure she does her daily chores. It just seems that everything with her is last minute or halfway done. She is such a beautiful girl, but gets teased by other girls and does not know how to handle confrontation. On the flip side, she is extremely artistic with oil paints and art. She gets A’s in her Spanish class. She loves soccer and performs hula and she is excellent at both.

This problem has affected my marriage. My husband and I find that we don't spend enough time together because we spend so much time helping her with school homework and our marriage has taken it's toll. I feel as if we are doing her homework for her. I am just so perplexed with my daughter. There are times that she seems so confident with school, then fails every test there are other times where she goes above and beyond what is expected. We have spent hundreds of dollars on a tutor and want to get her in touch with a counselor.

My husband is at a point where he thinks she is just hitting puberty and that she is very lazy. He says when things don't go well she just quits. I disagree with her being lazy and feel as a parent, I need to be able to help her or get help for myself to help her. I always tell her, “I will not quit on you and you shouldn't, either.” She has told me that I didn't think she would ever make it to college. That broke my heart because I think the stress of this has taken it's toll and my actions are very negative. Any advice you can give to a mom who is willing to do whatever it takes to help her child is greatly appreciated.

Mrs. Mitchell

Please, Mr. And Mrs Mitchell, sit down together and read my response to your question. When our children have problems, the easiest first reply is to our frustration is to look for someone to blame — the kid, teachers, the school, your spouse. “She is just lazy…not motivated…too dependent on mom.” I understand this reaction. Your child is frustrated and having difficulty with life and school. You love your child and share this frustration.

You have a beautiful 12-year-old daughter who is probably as miserable as you two are. She does not understand why she has problems any more than you do. She needs help and this help must come from both of you. You cannot afford to waste energy struggling with each other about what to do. You must unite and focus your energy on helping your daughter.

I don’t know if she has ADHD or a learning disability or both, but your descriptions suggest both. Your first steps must focus on clarify if she has one or both of these problems. Only then can you focus your energy on making sure that she gets the necessary help. The issue is not why mother has to spend so much time helping your daughter, making father upset. The issue is why your daughter is having so much difficulty that she needs someone to read with her, think through what she has to write, or help her organize herself and her materials. No, it is not puberty. She has had these problems for a long time.

She must be evaluated for a possible learning disability. She shows possible problems with reading comprehension and definite suggestions of problems with spelling and possibly with other writing skills. She might have problems organizing her thoughts when she writes. She also shows problems with organization and with time planning. This evaluation is done through formal psychological and educational testing. Your daughter is in a private school; however, as tax payers, you are entitled to such studies through your public school. Discuss how to make this request with the Head of her private school. The test results will clarify if she has a learning disability and, if she does, what help and accommodations she will need.

I do not read any suggestion of possible ADHD. I would do the testing first. Should the results suggest ADHD, she would be evaluated for this later. Again, the most important thing both mom and dad share is your love for your daughter. This love must unite you to focus on your daughter’s pain and how to help her. There is no time to waste energy blaming each other.

God bless and good luck.