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My 6-year-old son is in first grade and is having difficulty learning his spelling words and math concepts. He has speech delays, difficulty processing and trouble following directions. He was in first steps and an early childhood program. He went through a battery of tests at age 2-and-a-half and was seen by a developmental specialist but has no specific diagnosis. He has behavioral problems and angry outbursts but is usually corrected with time out.

At school, his teacher says he has trouble focusing and staying on task. He laughs or smiles when corrected and pounds on his desk. On the bus, he changes seats while the bus is moving and sits on the back of the seat. His sleep is a concern.

He gets up in the early morning around 4:00-5:00 am and has ever since he was 18 months old. He had a sleep study and had his tonsils and adenoids taken out, but it didn’t help. He has his own internal clock and he is up several hours before school starts, making him exhausted before his 8:30 pm bedtime. I wonder if testing him for attention deficit disorder would be helpful.


Your descriptions of your son suggest that he has a language-based Learning Disability and possibly a receptive/expressive Language Disability. He also sounds as if he has ADHD.

You need to start with your family physician to explore for ADHD. You need to meet with the principal of your school to discuss the need for a comprehensive assessment to explore for the other diagnoses. If your school refuses to do this (and many do until the end of third grade), you may need to have the studies done privately and then take them back to the school. I share your concerns. You do need to act now.

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