Blog - Insight into LD


“What Avi accomplished at Springer in three years is nothing short of a miracle.”

In third grade, Avi was still laboriously working out three-letter words while her peers were fluently reading chapter books. By fifth grade, her teachers had given up on her ever learning to write. But this spring, Avi was accepted at the School for Creative and Performing Arts to pursue a double major in Costume and Fashion Design and, yes, Creative Writing.


“My child’s learning difficulty is no longer invisible to me – just to everyone else.” “I keep thinking that if I try hard enough, I can convince myself that it will all just get better – something will click.”


Springer's Dr. Mary Ann Mulcahey answers questions from parents about their children's educational needs.  Sometimes a parent's intuition tells her something is not right, and many times she is right!

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues.


One might think that our general knowledge of learning disabilities and their impact on children and adults would be better understood today. After all, research studies and recent advancements in our ability to study brain activity have confirmed the reality of learning disabilities. Yet many people continue to think that individuals with learning disabilities could do whatever was asked if they just tried ‘harder.’


Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a delightful youngster in middle school. He plays sports, argues with his siblings and forgets chores, just like other children his age.  The student was eligible for academic support at his school. He had never “qualified” for specialized instruction before, and his parents were completely surprised when contacted by the district just two days before the start of school!


The school year is winding down. You and your child are celebrating the gains made this year, the corner that was turned. Maybe your son finally started to show all his work in math or realized that he had to take a few notes when reading the science assignment. Perhaps your suggestions seemed to meet with less resistance, or there was less blaming of other people.


In my last post I discussed a common occurrence at home – using items that belong to someone else without asking. Sometimes the guilty party cannot discriminate her toothbrush from that of a sibling – maybe the child does not remember the color of her toothbrush. Or, she just wasn’t paying attention.  Last week’s post offered strategies that adults can put into place to help the child recognize her belongings.


A common source of discord at home is “sharing” without asking. Children in general, engage in this behavior, but it may persist for a longer time for children with LD or ADHD. Difficulty with self-monitoring or self-awareness contributes to a lack of recognition that a behavior is not acceptable. By that, I mean your child is running late for school (not an uncommon occurrence).


A parent recently asked me how to help a child with LD and ADHD see how her behavior affects other people. This awareness did not seem to come naturally to their child. In the literature on child development, this is referred to as “Self Awareness.” In the area of Executive Function, this skill is labeled “Self Monitoring.” We can begin by looking at typical scenarios at home.


blog 16.3.2Recently, following a program on ADHD at Springer School and Center, a parent shared the above remark. When you feel like a Drill Sergeant in the Marine Corps instead of a nurturing, loving Mom or Dad, it can be frustrating. Your dreams of what the future would be like with a family did not include seeing yourself yelling, nagging or “barking.” You probably pictured yourself being patient, smiling and speaking in a cheerful voice.