How Do I Know if My Teen Has a Learning Disability?

Key Facts about Learning Disabilities (LDs)

● Learning disabilities (LDs) affect about 15% of the population.

● Despite having an average or above average level of intelligence, some young people struggle to learn and acquire specific academic skills. People with learning disabilities are just as ‘bright’ but may have challenges working in conventional ways that are commonly implemented in our education systems.

● LDs are neurobiological and/or genetic in foundation and are not caused by students not working hard enough or focusing hard enough. 


Is My Teen Struggling Socially?

Signs of Learning Challenges in Teens 


Frequently Expresses Feeling Overwhelmed or Fatigued by School Work:
While some amount of stress about school work is normal, especially as our kids move up through the grades, a teen who is experiencing learning difficulties may feel like they just aren’t able to get their head above water with academic demands. Despite their hard work, they may continuously struggle with starting and/or completing assignments, their grades may not improve much, and they can become very fatigued by the process. 

Increasing Reluctance to Ask Parents or Teachers for Help:
When the struggle doesn’t feel like it’s getting any easier, some teens might opt out of opportunities to ask for help, or to take help when it’s offered. In some cases, they might feel like they’re the only one struggling, and decide it’s easier to fly under the radar rather than risk standing out amongst peers. Unfortunately, this avoidant response only deepens the stress associated with learning difficulties and prevents them from getting support. 

Declining Self-Confidence:
As our kids age, they become increasingly self-aware and more cognizant of their performance in relation to their teenage peers. Teens who are struggling academically may start to experience a decline in their self-confidence. They may be frustrated with themselves and feel like something is wrong with them. Overcoming these challenges may feel too hard at times. It may be very difficult watching friends experience academic success with what seems like less time and effort required, while their own marks continue to suffer. 

Increasing Conflict with Parents When Discussing School:
It’s no secret that teens are often reluctant to talk to parents about many aspects of their life – this is normal. If you have a feeling that your teen is struggling with learning, however, conversations around school work may reach a whole new level of challenging. Your teen may respond with outbursts of frustration, overwhelm, or anger. They may demand the subject be dropped altogether. You might feel like your relationship with your teen is becoming increasingly strained due to the frequency and intensity of these conversations. 

Behavioural Challenges at Home, School or Both:
In an attempt to cope, a teen facing learning difficulties may do everything they can to mask their struggles in class and at home. This might mean acting out in many different ways. A teen wanting to avoid reading in class might find ways to leave (or be asked to leave) class at just the right time. Some teens reach for peers facing similar challenges. Together, they may engage in unhelpful behaviours such as skipping classes. Other teens may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. 

Avoiding School Altogether:
At some point, a teen may determine it’s too difficult to cope and start to avoid school altogether. Parents may argue with them to get up each morning and they may possibly stop attending. There are many preventative supports that can be implemented at any stage of your child’s educational journey. You’re the expert on your child: If you think something isn’t quite right, trust your instincts and reach out for help. 

An Overview of Counselling at the Centre
Depending on your teen’s situation, there are a variety of routes we can take with their counselling. First sessions generally serve as consultations to get a better understanding of your teen’s unique situation. From there, we may work with your child over a handful of sessions or a longer period of time. We have found that counselling is a truly healing experience for many teens, and talking through their issues is a great way for them to reconnect to themselves and their families. Being seen, heard, known, and understood is extremely important for everyone – and no less for a teen navigating new emotions and experiences. Through our sessions, we will help your teen work through their emotions and build positive relationships. 

Are You Interested in Exploring Therapy for Your Teen? 

Simply put, counselling works: It can help your teen feel better and lead to a positive shift within your family. We welcome and encourage questions. Our FAQ page may be able to address some of these.

If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out to one of our Client Care Coordinators. They should help clear up questions you may have about finding a therapist that fits your teen’s needs and personality and how counselling works at the Toronto Counselling Centre for Teens. All calls are commitment-free. We can address any further questions or concerns and/or connect you to a therapist that can meet your needs.

Or, if you’re ready you can also book a time yourself! Meet the team or book now.

Toronto Counselling Centre for Teens:
Supporting Your Journey Towards Wellness

Learn more about how our counsellors can help with depression by contacting us at 416-565-4504 or by email at Ready to take that first step? book your appointment today — it’s always the right time to try.

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267 Runnymede Rd,
Toronto, ON, M6S 2Y5