48 answers

4 Year Old Might Have Learning Disabilities

I am the mother of a 4 year old, a full time nanny, and have worked in daycares for 10 years. I do "preschool time" with my son (4) and the other 2 boys, both of whom are 2.5 years old. I teach them through worksheets, activities, crafts, field trips, all kinds of hands-on games, repetition, and more- I like to try and keep it as fun as possible so they do not get bored. I know that my son is very smart, but he has NO interest in learning anything. He only knows 2 colors, 3 shapes, and the letter "O". We work on this every single day. The boys that are 1.5 years younger than him are so much more ahead- they both know all the colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and can do things like put simple puzzles together, etc. I know that all children learn at a different speed. I know that different kids learn things different ways, and I try lots of styles of teaching to see what works for my son. He doesn't like to color, he can't draw anything recognizable, and his speech is not understandable to anybody but family. He gets bored of any activity that we do within a few minutes, even if I don't specifically say, "it's preschool time," or anything like that.
My son is extremely strong willed, gets frustrated very easily, and can never sit still- even if I make him sit down he has to stomp his feet, wave his arms around, or swing his head. He also talks/sings all the time, in a high pitched voice or in whispers, and lots of the time it's just made-up words and phrases. He has a horrible time concentrating.
I have taken him to his doctor, who agreed he is possibly behind, physically as well as mentally. I am planning on calling the local school district and see if they can screen him for anything- I think he might be colorblind and dyslexic (both run in the family). We can't afford therapists, preschool, or anything really... we're just getting by.
I just don't know what else to do. I always encourage him and tell him how good he is doing, and I am so proud of every small step he makes. He'll be starting school when he is closer to 6 years old. I just want to prepare him and help him learn what he needs to go into school, but nothing is working. No matter what I do, I can't spark his interest. I don't want to force him, and make him hate learning, I don't want to make him feel like he's not smart (that would break my heart if he felt bad about himself), but I don't want him to hurt in school because he is not prepared.
If anyone has any ideas, please let me know! I really appreciate it! Thanks :)

Wow! I have received so many responses, thank you everybody.
You all have given some great advice and I have lots to think about and do.
Right now though, since so many people commented about his hearing and sight, I just wanted to write about that.
My son has a genetic condition called Ectodermal Dysplacia that effects his skin, teeth, and hair. All of his teeth are small and pointy, like shark teeth, he gets random high fevers often because he cannot sweat, and his skin is very sensitive. One of the other things the condition can effect is his sight and hearing. We have had him tested for hearing, the last time was about a year ago. It is perfect, thank goodness! My son has also been wearing glasses since he was 2. He has had surgery on his eye to correct amblioplia. He goes to the eye doctor regularly and has done patch therapy. His vision isn't too bad, but with glasses, which he wears without complaining, he can see perfectly. He wears them all the time. Someone also asked how I know he is smart- my son is a great problem solver. He thinks a lot and will explain things to me that I know I have not explained to him. With the things that he *does know* i.e. the color yellow, letter "o", and stars and hearts, he points them out all the time, whenever he sees them. He just can't move on from those few things, and "turns off" in a sense, if I ask about/show him something he doesn't know.

Lots more to comment on, but I will do that a little later :)
Thanks again everybody!

What can I do next?

More Answers

Dear M.~
You sound like a terrific Mom and I think you right to be concerned about your son. From your description regarding his speech and behaviours, I am very surprised at his doctor's, how should I say it, unenthusiastic response to your concerns. He says he is probably a little behind. He is definately behind and I am quite surprised that the his doctor didn't bring up concerns sooner himself. Number 1, please find a new doctor for your son, one that will take your concerns seriously. And one that has some experience with Autism. I know that can be a scary word but there are many, many "levels" to autism. Some autistic children are extremly high functioning and other are extremely low. A few things you said made me mention it. His repetitive singing (ang high pitch) and nonsensical words and his problem solving skills specifically. I have a family member who worked for NAAR, now called Autism Speaks, for several years and I have worked with a PA-C (certified Physician Assistant) whose children both are on the very high functioning end of the scale who are autistic. Both are in regular classrooms at school, although they are very high needs children. Just another avenue you may wish to pursue. My best wishes to you and your son and your family. Again, you sound like just a wonderful mom and are doing everything right. Keep up the great work.

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Hi M.,

First, let me tell you that you're not alone! Other moms out there are probably reading your post and recognizing their own child in your words. Second, there are resources out there for you. I was concerned about my two year-old's speech development (or lack thereof) and learned about my county's Education Service District, which provides FREE services for children, including the assessment, education, and intervention for speech, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, etc. Each county has an ESD, and the cost is covered by the taxes we pay. I highly encourage you to schedule an assessment for your son. It's been a blessing for us-with monthly visits from a "counselor" and regular visits from a speech pathologist, my son's speech has exploded in the last six months. I don't know what county you live in, but here are links to the two larger county ESDs. You can always google to find the other counties.

Clackamas ESD: http://www.clackesd.k12.or.us/
Multnomah: http://w3.mesd.k12.or.us/

Good luck!

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I'm sure you have had a ton of responses but i thought i'd add my small amount of knowledge. I am a nanny, or should say was before my son was born. I have had many different nanny jobs but, I worked with this wonderful little girl with down syndrome for years. She taught me so much I am forever debted to her and her family. A couple of the things I learned...your child doesn't have to start school until the age of 7 in washington state. Kindergarten is completely optional. We kept her home unitl she was ready and I really think it helped her. Everything I did with her I did at her pase. We worked on eye therapies, fine motor skills, everything you can imagine. She also has a very short attention spand, so we mapped the day out for her. She had to work for a few, complete a small task, tehn she could ahve a break and do something fun. She's take ten minutes and go dance or look at books, and we come back and do another small task. I spaced her structured activities throughout teh day rather than all clumped together, and at the end of the day we spent a good amount of time doing something of ehr choice, a rewards of sorts for doing everything she needed to do. We'd go the the park or for a long walk, jump on the trampoline (she was very into gross motor activies) With children with any kind of special needs, high functioning or not, there are "window's of opportunity" times when they are open to new things. You just have to be patient and be ready when they come. Now that doesn't mean you don't do anything in the mean time, but take it slow and go from their ques. My precious little girl and work is so smart, she just turned 10 last week, she doesn't speak but a few words that really only family can understand, but we do a lot of sign language. When she started school it was very hard on her mother and I, we spent a lot of time crying and trying to adjust. When your son does start school just make sure you are and positive advicate for him, because the school systems have their own way about things that are not always best for children. My little angel goes to North Shore School District and supposedly they are suppose to be great with special needs children, and for the most part they are, but you really have to take the time to be there and observe and find which people work well and are positive for yor child. Some people are natural at it and others aren't. Good luck to you, and enjoy your journey!

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Many of the other responses have already said this; get him evaluated NOW!! You are right, he IS smart. MANY kids with Autism issues are also very bright... He sounds like there are possible sensory and/or Autism spectrum issues going on, and early intervention is absolutely critical. If you want help figuring out how to get help and therapy for him, e-mail me; I have been a special ed teacher for over 15 years and I have a son with disabilities, so I have been there.... If you are in Oregon, call the local school and the local ESD (Education Service District); you could also try to get an evaluation done at the nearest children's hospital, which is often covered by your health insurance (if you have Keizer, DON'T go there). If you are in Washington, go ahead and get him evaluated by contacting the district and / or ESD as well, but FIRST get in touch with a parent advocacy group; try the Wyatt Holliday Foundation (www.wyattshouse.org)... there is a HUGE pattern of poor special ed services in most of the districts in Washington, and they can help you get services effectively. I would also look at changing doctors; yours does not show much understanding of developmental issues!!!
Best wishes to you and your little guy!! Let me know if I can help :-)

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I am sorry to hear about your worries, but I am also glad that you are aware there might be a need for support for your son and family. It is hard for parents sometimes to see that their little ones might not be developmentally on track. I know this because of my background...I worked as a case manager for a children's therapy center that specialized in working with birth to three Early Intervention clients (developmental delays and therapy for motor, speech/language, cognition and socialization). The program I worked for was in Washington so I am not 100% about the ins and outs for Oregon, but I know that Early Intervention programs are federal and run for both 0-3 years and 3-5 years. These programs are generally contacted through your school district where they will evaluate (or refer to the right center/program) and see if your son has a delay that is significant enough to be eligible for services.

These programs, like I said, are federal and supported by taxes so there is no cost (or very little) to families who are eligible due to delay, not income. The goal is to provide services early so that children are then ready for school when its time and hopefully save on the need for more support and service later on.

Another option that you may want to look into if Early Intervention doesn't seem right to you, or if you want a medical evaluation, is to see a developmental pediatrician. Not wanting to make a specific recommendation, but the ones that might be good to start with are through the Child Development and Rehab Center (CDRC) with OHSU or with Emanuel Children's Hospital. These programs will do an evaluation somewhat like the Early Intervention programs, but then take it a little farther looking more for medical issues and a possible diagnosis, if there is one (since you mention that there are learning disabilities in your family).

I know that this is a hard process, as I said earlier. I have been by many parents sides as they have navigated through the maze of services, but I have never see a family who regrets getting this sort of help. Please let me know if you have any other questions...I am not what I would consider an expert, but even though I am not working in this field any longer, I am very passionate about helping children and families.

Best wishes,

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I have a six year old niece with physical and mental disabilities. Even though her parents both had jobs with insurance, her disabilities qualified them to receive state assistance with therapy, special schools, tests, etc.

Don't make money the issue. Follow through with contacting the school and going through the testing process. If there is anything wrong, they should be able to point you in the right direction to signing up for assistance for your son.

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You have already received wonderful advice. I just wanted to add my 2 cents that you sound like a fantastic mom!! Your son is lucky to have such a loving and intelligent mother.

Keep up the good work and I hope they find out quickly what is going on with your son so that you can all start focusing on helping him.


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Public schools have 'child find' where children as young as 3 yrs old are assessed for their needs and entered into early education. They receive physical, occupational and speech therapies as needed and required to help them develop and learn the lessons that are being taught in class. This classroom/school is free of charge, your district receives federal and state funding for it. (However, funding is subject to cuts, so when you vote this fall vote for someone who supports education funding, fully!) But getting him into this program is going to help him immensely. He will be going to school now rather than later, and it's in his best interests. Don't hesitate. Contact your school district and your pediatrician.

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I know I am not an authority, but I have seven kids and have homeschooled for a while. I had two thoughts you might want to consider.

1.Have you had your sons vision checked? I know of two people that didn't realize how bad their sons vision was and the boys blossomed after getting their glasses.

2.I hope you are prepared and have done research in the area of 'The spectrum of Autism'. I know several autistic children and your decription fits.

I agree that the public school system fails some parents and often you need to a strong advocate for your child in order to get help.

I also agree with the idea that every child is different, and all blossom at different rates. I hope your son isn't acting the way he is because he feels you are comparing him to his cousins, or that he just might want your complete undivided attention.

I applaud you for asking for help and comparing notes with other Moms. We all have life experiences that can help each other out.

I wish you the best!


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Try backing off a little on the "teaching" and just relax for a while, let all the teaching you've already done sink in. It could be that he isn't really interested yet (he doesn't really care what the colors names are! He knows they are there, and who cares about drawing your squares and circles when he really just wants to go find out what that rock across the yard feels like! etc.) Some times just giving them a break to just follow their own interests will lead them to learning things in ways you wouldn't have thought of. And all those lessons will be percolating in the back of their head, then the next time you do start to work with him... he will surprise you with progress!
Mine did this, and still does, constantly. Now he is 14. I homeschool him, and teaching him to read was difficult because he couldn't sit still while doing it. If I let him drum on things, and keep moving in his seat, he could concentrate, but if I made him be still he couldn't concentrate at all. Even doing it his way seemed slow going and he would get so upset. Then I decided to just take a break from reading, this was in 1st grade. We just stopped. Then when I came back to it around 6 weeks later,... there was a huge improvement. That's when I learned to just teach him something, then leave it for a while, don't bug him about it at all, then casually bring it up and see what he can tell me he remembers about it. Try it! It really works!

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I didn't read everyone's responses but stopped at a lady who mentioned getting him evaluated at your local school district. She is absolutely right! It's free and he can go to preschool for free for 3 or 4 days a week and get specialized assistance for all the things you are worried about. He can qualify even for social delays under this program and if he's at all below average, they'll let him get the services in hopes of bringing him up before school. . .plus he may need those extra services for a couple extra years but better to know now Mel. . .my daughter is behind in speech and is behind in following directions and is also in need of physical therapy and social skills assistance. . .she turned 4 in February. Her twin sister is completely age appropriate in all areas so doesn't go but it's good for them to be with other kids and to get more one on one assistance during the day. Give it a try :)

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okay.... I have not read the whole post yet.. but I see a bit of a red flag.... he could have sensory issues.. and maybe mild autism.... you can have him evaluated for free at your local school district with their early learning intervention program to identify what his delays are and receive FREE help with these things. I would encourage you to call the school district and ask to speak to someone in the Early Learning department and schedule an evaluation. it should take about 1.5 hours and they will evaluate him in several areas.. speech, fine motor skills, identifying object etc. When I did this with my son I met with the school psychologist and we went over some things (he has some early signs of ADHD which doesn't surprise me because he has 2 sisters dx with it). They will go over their findings and you will meet again for an IEP eligibility meeting to determine what services, if any he qualifies for. This will give him a head start in getting help to get ready for kindergarten. From what you describe - I think your son will qualify for some services..so call them now.. so you can get scheduled for an eval. .before the school year is done.... they often don't do evals. in the summer.

good luck.


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I was glad to read that you will be contacting your local school district for an assessment. Under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act school districts are required to provide evaluations and other services, if your child qualifies, at no cost. In particular, you will want information from a speech pathologist and school psychologist to rule out any communication or socially oriented conditions. I commend you for doing your best to keep learning fun. If your child does have a learning disability your family's efforts will continue to be teaching in different ways and finding things that your son is good at to protect his self esteem. It is just too sad to see students who are quite brite constantly receive the message in subtle and not so subtle ways that their best simply isn't good enough. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you try to find answers.

School Psychologist (in a past life before baby)

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How do you know that he is very smart?

Do you offer him the activities that indicate that he is very smart?

Have you had him tested for food sensitivities, autism?
Kids with autism can be very smart and need a completely different educational approach. Lots of success stories out there. Please go on line and research. Chris

Try calling Headstart. The earlier you can get intervention the better. Just because you can't afford fancy therapists (who of us can really) doesn't mean there are not resources out there for him. Also, why hasn't you doctor helped you find these resources??? That is what they should be doing, not just telling you your son might be behind!

Good luck:)

You should call your county's Early Child Intervention program, they can help you get your son assessed by a nurse practicioner who specializes in children's issues. S/He should be able to come out to your house to do the assessment. They may have a sliding scale fee or you school district can pay for it too.

Your school district also has the obligation to provide special servies to him if he qualifies, like Early Intervention, speech therapy and IEP's for when he is in kindergarten.

Sometimes school districts are difficult to deal with, if you have trouble you can ask for help through the Juvenile Rights Project. Let me know if you need more info...good luck.

Hi M.,

First, you're doing everything right, and second, I would go along with everything the other mom's have said. One more thing though, have his hearing tested. My 21 year old daughter, when she was 5, they thought she had a learning disability as well. She had a speech impediment, she was always off in her own little world. It turned out that she couldn't hear....she was going deaf! A simple surgery to put tubes in, close monitering to make sure things went ok...she's fine now, and she's graduates college this year.

Definately go to the school district, and set up an IEP though!

My name is A. Swift and i live on a ranch out of The Dalles. i have a friend who has a child with learning disabilities and she found a patented nutritional supplementation. it has been amazing to see the tremendous progress that has been made! if you are interested in talking and finding out more call me ###-###-####. i am not much for typing!

It sounds like you are very aware and trying positive things with your preschool. Keep up the fun ways of learning.
I would say go to the school district for screening.
I was on the Washington Dept of health and human services looking for what help they may have for speech delays and they list what may qualify for services. Both the school district and dept of health should have some free services. www1.dshs.wa.gov/iteip I was checking out services for children younger than 3 but i know they have services for older kids.

Hi M.,
You sound like an amazing mom -- I don't do half the stuff you do with my kids!!
Anyway, the school district is a great resource and they are amazingly accommodating. My son recently got tested because he's a little behind too. He qualified in special ed. for his speech but not for other skills so right now he's having just speech therapy through the school and it's one on one which is great for us. The testing process seems like it takes a long time but they are super helpful :) There are a lot of options out there!!

rewards, rewards, rewards...somehow you have to make it seem like his choice. What does he like?

Also, Jim Faye is a great author...he has a series for parenting and teaching call "LOVE and LOGIC" Check it out.

Good luck.

Hi M. -
You have a good basis of knowledge and clearly you believe there is something not right with your son's learning. Your idea of calling the school district is a good place to start. f you're in the Seattle area, I'd recommend calling the UW school of medicine. I know they are constantly working on studies regarding a plethora of subjects from learning styles to disabilities of all kinds. Frankly, I think you also need to be a little more forceful with your doctor. You know your son and you are the only one who's going to stand for him. Ask for referrals. There are scholarships for people in your situation. Take advantage of them. Most importantly, follow your gut and get some help - it only gets more frustrating for you both if you can't figure it out.
I hope this is somehow helpful. Best wishes.

You are on the right track to go to the school district for evaluations. Please know they wont be the answer to everything, though. Find a parent's group that you are comfortable with and try to meet other children that have delays. These kids are often surprisingly bright, they just have a hard time communicating. You know your son better than anyone, please follow your feelings with this. Sometimes a child will be more receptive to being taught by someone other than mom too.
My thoughts are with you,

(mother of three brilliant boys, one with learning delays)

I'm not sure where you live, but there are early intervention folks that will assess what is going on. Your school District should be able to give you guidance.

M., I'm not sure whether anyone else has recommended this or not (I've not had a chance to read the responses). If you are in Snohomish County there is a facility I highly recommend investigating. It's called The Little Red School House (www.littlered.org). It is designed to serve children from birth through 5 years old. The can help you with an assessment and/or services. They have a policy that no child shall be denied services based upon the parent's ability to pay. This is an AMAZING organization. Good luck with your son.

My daughter is developmentally delayed with no actual diagnosis... she has been in special education since she was 10 months old... she is now 11 and participates in a standard classroom environment with what is called and IEP pull out program. This allows her to get the classroom experience with her peers, but still gives her the added support she needs to succeed. I am proud to say that she has beaten speach therapy and math assistance!

It is state law that all children be given every opportunity to learn and that those who are delayed or disabled be given the extra support they need to thrive. The school district will screen your son if you ask, but they will be looking to your doctor to recommend their services. Ask your doctor to have your son evaluated in all the areas that you think he is struggling. Then the doctor can make that recommendation to the school district so that things will progress quickly for you to get your son into a "special needs preschool". Keep with it. There are people out there who can and will help and if you need support, and there are groups out there designed to help parents of special needs children.

He will be in school for at least 13 years. Lay off a little bit now. Are you working at being a mom who insists on perfection? Leaqrning disabilities almost cannot be determined before 3rd grade. Too much of early learning is developmental, and children need to be allowed to develop. The schools in which I work will not look at assessment for learnintg disabilities until a child is in the second half of second grade or later. Demanding parents run the risk of developing nervous habits in their children who want to please and make the parent happy. Thumb sucking, stuttering or stammering, nail biting, etc are all indicative of a child who has a lot of demands being made. Give your four year old a break; teach him to cross the street safely, to tie his shoes, and to enjoy books.

You need to continuously press the issue with the local school district. When he is old enough for school, you can demand that he be evaluated for any learning/behavior disabilities.

Also, you might want to limit the amount of "distractors" available to him while playing. This might help him settle into the notion of playing one thing for a while. There are some smaller, local, toy stores that carry cooperative board games with simple instructions and concepts that teach patience, working together, sharing, etc.

If your son does qualify for special education, my advice to you is to be as pro-active as possible. Don't become the overbearing "squeaky wheel", but make sure you have a positive two-way communication set up between you and his case manager. Make sure the teachers aren't feeling like they can't tell you all of their concerns because they are afraid you might take it the wrong way. As someone involved in childcare, and now public education, for my adult life--I can tell you it's very challenging for parents to hear things that could be considered "setbacks" or "delays". So, sometimes the school just works on one end, and the parents work on the other--which really isn't the best possible situation. Having that communication open will empower you and his teachers to work in his best interest, always.

You are very intuitive to realize these things now. Hopefully with early interventions, you can identify what is happening and work on helping your son get what he needs to be successful.

He's very lucky to have a mom who is so concerned and taking positive steps for him!

I know that medical care and money often aren't compatible, but my two cents worth would be that you really need to find a way to see a pediatric neurologist, and the sooner, the better for your son.
Is his doctor a family practitioner or a pediatrician? That could make a difference in the screening abilities of the M.D.
If you live in the Seattle area (although I'm sure that people have already suggested this), see if you could get him some help through Childrens. I'd think asking to speak to someone in social services would be the route to go, they could tell you what is available, and if Children's has any kind of a sliding fee scale. When my kids racked up a $70,000 hospital bill, the social service people at that hospital were an immense help/
And, I would most definately check out Shriners Hospital, they should have a clinic they work with - and Shriners does a lot more than orthopedic surgery.
If you are in the Portland area, try also Dorenbecker, in addition to Shriners. I know both those facilities do charitable care, and would be knowledgeable about resources that are available in your area. Again, social services, and if you live in PDX you probably know there is a Shtiners there too.
If you can, get medical coupons, if you are eligible. though.) Washington state has low cost health insurance specifically for children, your doctor's office should have information about that.
Your son does sound like is he is really a pretty bright little guy, and my thoughts and prayers will be with you both. (If you have a chance update this site with your progress!)

I don't know if I missed this in your question, but does he like to listen to books? I would make reading to him a top priority. I would read to him ALL of the time if he shows that interest. I would let "preschool" time go and just read. At first I would not point out or teach anything. Maybe focus on character building. As his interest begins to grow, start pointing out shapes, colors, whatever. Keep the focus of a reading session singular at first.

It does sound like there is something going on, but just remember that all kids are different. I would look into getting him tested by a school district person, but you may have to wait until he is enrolled to receive that benefit, as well as have it recommended by his teacher. Just be patient and pray a lot!

Mom, read the book leo the late bloomer to your sons and pay attention to the meaning in the book...... Your son apparently has learning issuse and thats ok mom relax ....... I understand how hard it is i raised a child that had alot of educational issues ... He turned out fine .he was a "late bloomer"

There are a lot of programs out there that work with a sliding fee scale, which may make it possible for him to get some outside help. It sounds like you are doing everything you possibly can (and more)! Depending on where you live will depend on what programs are available. But usually there are free/affordable programs it just takes time to find them. Good luck~!

Wave his hands and arms around, or talking in a high pitched voice are specific autism spectrum signals. Everyone's comments were wonderful and I wish you the best of luck!

You've done an amazing job trying to prepare him, so give yourself big kudos as a mom.

One other mom responded with the mention of autism, which was my first thought as well. I know a few autistic kids on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, and early diagnosis was critical to their ability to integrate at least partially into a regular classroom.

Make use of the school district resources other moms have mentioned. Push your pediatrician to refer you to a specialist who can screen for autism - your health insurance should cover it. If it *is* autism, there are TONS of resources and support groups out there who can help you come up with a plan to cope with it.

Best of luck!

Check out Auditory processing disorder. Sounds a lot like my son. We know our son has dyslexia because it runs in the family too, but dyslexia is one of the signs for Auditory Processing Disorder. Good luck going through the school district. Maybe ask them to test him for it. Early intervention is the best thing always. Good Luck.

You should check with your school district. I know that many districts have birth to 5 programs for children with disablities. What I don't know is if it is at no cost, but I think that it is for children with diagnosed disabilities. Good Luck

I would definitly have him evaluated through the school district and get him into their early learning program. My son is currently in Seattle Developmental Preschool (mostly due to speech delay). They are wonderful- he receives speech therapy, and just qualified for occupational therapy, and then in the classroom gets his social/emotional/cognitive areas. He gets picked up and dropped off by the bus. He has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that will most likely follow him into kindergarten and beyond (so he can get support where he needs it). All of this is with our tax dollars. There is something you can do for him, and now is the time to get him started. Good luck!

Most Early Interventions programs are free, and some run through age 5. (some only through age 3, so check). They can help you determine your son's learning style, challenges, strengths and interests. I don't know which school district you are in, but almost all districts have these programs.

Good luck!

Your school district has or should have an early intervention. You can have him evaluated there for any ld's and speech. He can get speech therapy and an headstart with any ld's he may have. They should have busses to pick him up and bring him home so you can still stay at home with your nephews. It is only a couple days a week and a couple hours during the day. My youngest is adhd and he went to early intervention in the portland school district and they are wonderful people dedicated to your kid. He needed speech also. My oldest did speech when he got to grade school and he did wonderful in there too. If your son is still having problems when he starts kindergarten write a letter asking for an evaluation there also. The schools have services but you have to ask and they have to do an evaluation if you write a letter. I do not think they are connected enough to know your son will need services. The early intervention goes through most of the summer so he can get into it before kindergarten if he is going to start at 5 years old.

M. you should have your son screened asap! And dont be fearful of what the results are, because obviously he cannot get the help he needs unless you know what the problem is. I cant believe his doctor didnt notice anything earlier. When my son was 2, I knew he didnt have the language that other 2 year olds had and my doctor had him screened and immediately recommended speech therapy. As for the financial aspect, dont worry about that, if he does require speech, occupational or physical or cognitive therapy etc, these services should be provided through the school district for FREE! Check out your local school district, special education services offered and I would contact the Program Director asap to fnd out what the school district offers. I had my son put in preschool at 3 yrs old where not only did I pay for a private therapist but also he gets speech services weekly from the school free. Check out the preschool program in your district and dont wait to put him in school. They help all children; typical developing kids to mild or moderate and autistic children as well. Theres so much available, and Im trying to keep this short without rambling on but dont sell yourself or your child short because you know you are his best advocate. My son is now in his 2nd year of preschool (bc you have to be 5 for kindergarten) but he will be moving on next year and I am so excited. Its not a matter of someone labeling your son but just determining what can we (you and teachers and school district) do to get him some help. (sultan.k12.wa.us)
Oh, one more thing, your son could be easily frustrated due to lack of communication and understanding...and also you might want to have your sons hearing checked, that could also be the root problem which are just things I never thought of until they screened my son. Thank goodness his hearing is fine but it would have made since why he had a smaller array of language than other kids but now he says stuff I dont want him to say. But Im happy he is talking and we can understand him.
I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, Ill be happy to tell you more-T.

Has your doctor suggested having your son tested for food allergies? I have an (almost) 2 1/2 year old son who had similar issues. I had him tested for food allergies, only to discover that he's allergic to a BUNCH of foods, including anything with GLUTEN in it. We're still eliminating the allergic foods from his diet, but the one thing we eliminated immediately was gluten. A few days later, his behavior and temperament had already improved. We see more and more changes as time goes by. So, you should probably have some food allergy testing done, to eliminate that possibility.

I strongly suggest that you put your child in pre-school. Many local churches and high schools have programs. If you say you don't have the money and are barely getting by then find ways of cutting back your spending and find the money. Maybe you need to stop being a nanny and find a job that pays more money. (Family members usually don't pay what they should.)
Our youngest has been in pre-school at a local church for two years now and will go on to Kindergarten this fall. He loves the interaction with his friends and his teacher. All the kids are very close knit. We are not religious but send him to this pre-school because we have seen results. Our oldest didn't have skills when he went into Kindergarten and that really hurt him. He did learn what he needed because he had a great teacher and great classmates.
I think that your son is with you and the other children too much. I don't think the issue with him is learning disabilities, I think he is bored and needs other children to play and bond with that are his age. By socializing him with children his age, even if you find out he has learning disabilities, he will grow.
We couldn't afford pre-school either, but we "FOUND" the money in our budget and never looked back. Having our son in school three days a week for 3 hrs is a God send. He loves school and all of his friends. It gives us a break from each other and has made our relationship better. This year he has learned to spell and write his own name. My oldest didn't learn this until he was in Kindergarten and I felt like a looser mom because most of the kids already knew this. Some of his classmates knew how to read and my son didn't.
So you can see, I have been on both sides of the fence. Don't feel like you have done any bad parenting or let down your son. You have done the best you can. I just think you need to let him have some independence that children his age need.
Good luck. - A.

You're doing the right thing. The school district will test him and if appropriate offer free preschool. Additionally, your insurance should cover any testing needed if you doctor refers you.

If it makes you feel better all 3 of my kids have ADHD and were delayed learners as a result. But now my 15 year old is on the college track in high school and 12 year old is doing great in Middle School. Both of my older children caught up by 3rd grade. Third grade is the equalizer. :) I'm looking forward to my 2nd grader moving into 3rd grade. :)

Good Luck

You may want to consider taking your child to a pediatric psychologist or a developmental pediatrician. A pediatric psychologist will be able to do more in-depth testing than a regular pediatrician and has more experience in this particular area. A developmental pediatricain will assess a child to see if there are any physiological problems that are causung your childs deficits. While having a child assessed by a school is helpful for placement, I have found that school psychologists generally are assessing for the current diagnosis that is popular at the time.
We began seeing delays in my son when he was 4. He was 5-months premature. The school psychologist diagnosed him as autistic; the clinical psychologist did not. What became more important than an actual clinical diagnosis when he started school was to meet his specific learning deficits. We didn't actually get a diagnosis until he was in sixth grade. He has Asperger's syndrome, which is at the high-end of the autistic spectrum. The learning needs of a child with Aspergers and a child with autism are different. Sometimes placing a label too early will take you down the wrong path and keep you from identifying the real problem later.
By the way, give yourself credit for all you are doing for your child at home! It sounds like you are doing all the right things and sometimes, when you're in the middle of it on a day-to-day basis, you can lose sight of that.

Hi M.
Definitely go to the school district and have your son evaluated. It might be hard to learn that there are issues, but the sooner the better....there is help in public schools as young as 3. Good luck. A.

Please call your local school district. They will evaluate him and he can receive services for free, including preschool, speech therapy, etc. Most school districts have special preschools for kids with delays, our district's school is called The Alderwood Easry Learning Center (In Lynnwood). Most counties also have special schools that can supply all kinds of therapies. In Snohomish County it is The Little Red Schoolhouse and on the Eastside it is the Kindering Center. I would also call Headstart, you might qualify and if not, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Many of these services are free or very low cost depending on your income. Hopefully, one of these places can help you since it appears that your doctor is not very helpful.


I am a mother of 2 kids (3 and 5), a Learning Specialist at a pre-K to 8th grade school, and an Autism Specialist. I have a few thoughts about things I have seen in other posts.

First of all, several people have mentioned autism, which could possibly be the case, but isn't for sure. There are multiple areas in which a child needs to have characteristics in order to be found to have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder.). However, I TRULY believe that "mommy knows best," so if you have ANY worry about that at all, please go ask for someone to check it out. Moms are right WAY more often than "professionals!"

Also, I didn't notice anyone mention ADHD. The difficulty with sitting still sounds like it could be ADHD, and that could significantly impact his learning. Again, finding out sooner rather than later will really help! (And btw, ADHD doesn't have to mean "medication!")

Someone mentioned that we can't tell if a student has a learning disability until they are around 3rd grade. Well, although this is sort of true due to the rules we use to identify LD, parents and teachers often know who those kids will be as early as preschool. It's never too early to look into something that you are concerned about.

I really applaud the suggestions from yourself and others about looking into vision and hearing issues. Those are the simplest, most direct things to do at first, and could put an end to the wondering right away.

Again, go with your gut! In my experience, moms (and dads, too, of course) know their kids best, and pick up on differences in their kids WAY earlier than the "professionals" do. Be an active advocate, and your son will thank you.

Good luck with everything! You're doing awesome things!

Have you looked into community resources? A great place to start FNA head start. It is a fed funded program that provides 1st preschool (free based on income). They also have numerous resource that may be of great us to your son. There number is ###-###-####

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