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I have a three sons aged nine, six, and four. Our oldest was having difficulty keeping up with his class. Since kindergarten, he was always categorized as being a little behind. His teachers said it was due to our multi-language home environment.

His new fourth grade teacher is saying that he is reading at a second grade level and that there is a possibility he might be held back. Because of this, I started spending lot of time working on his reading, but as I was doing this, I noticed his younger brother, who is six years old, has better comprehension of the story and can respond faster and correctly to my questions. So many times he stared at me with a blank look because he didn’t understand my questions and didn’t know how to answer me.

I have a feeling my oldest son might have auditory processing disorder. He passed his school’s hearing test. He is really a kind and gentle boy who can’t seem to make friends even though he tries so hard. He can’t seem to get the right words to express himself unlike his brothers. He wants to be accepted by his schoolmates and tries to join in their conversations, but it’s either out of context or inappropiate, which is keeping him from making friends. This is really hurting his self esteem and is making him more aggressive towards his brothers.

How can I find out if I’m right or wrong about my feeling and how can I get the school’s help? I’m learning that LD runs in the family; can my other boys have LD as well? I’m starting to notice that my six-year-old might have ADHD and my four-year-old has a speech problem. How can I get them evaluated if there is no sign of academic problems? I don’t want to wait and have them be in the same position as their older brother. I am so grateful for your website because I know I’m not alone.


First, let’s discuss your nine-year-old. He is in the fourth grade and reading at the second grade level. This means he is still struggling with decoding words and has not yet solidly moved to reading comprehension. You did not mention it, but I suspect he has difficulties writing his words correctly and with spelling. You also describe him as having difficulty processing what he hears and difficulty organizing his thoughts in order to respond verbally. These behaviors suggest a possible receptive/expressive language disability.

These are two excellent reasons for his school professionals to not focus on keeping him back but focus on why he is behind. Comprehensive psycho-educational and speech-language evaluations are essential. The results will help to clarify his problems and what needs to be done to help. (What Do You Do If You Suspect Your Child Has a Learning Disability?)

Now, for your other children. LD has a strong familial pattern. If LD runs in your family and we suspect that your nine-year-old has LD, it would be wise to watch the other children carefully and to seek help as soon as you become concerned. Take a look at LD Basics on LD Online to find out more.

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