What Is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability may come in many different shapes and sizes depending on the child.
It is not always easy to identify a learning disability in a child, but the time for concern would be if your child consistently struggles over and over again to master certain concepts.
For instance, your child might see, hear and understand things a little differently than the rest of his or her peers.
Experts suggest that the brain of a child with a learning disability acquires and processes information differently, unlike neurotypical kids.
This doesn’t mean that your child is not as smart as everyone else; it just means that they need to be taught with a more unique, individual and creative teaching style, more tailored to meet their unique learning style.
Some of the areas of your child’s learning disability might be:
- Reading (dyslexia)
- Math (dyscalculia)
- Writing (dysgraphia)
- Motor skills (dyspraxia/apraxia)
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Language (dysphasia/aphasia),
- Auditory processing disorder (difficulty hearing differences between sounds)
- Visual processing disorder (difficulty interpreting visual information)
- Non-verbal learning disorder
What scientists know now is that under the right learning conditions, the brain has the ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.
What Your Doctor May Tell You About a Learning Disability
Your child’s pediatrician may want a complete medical examination to rule out any underlying medical conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome, dysmorphisms, and any genetic factors.
They may also tell you that the known risk factors are:
- Birth trauma
- Low birth weight
- Early malnutrition
- Understimulating environments
- Head injury
- Family history of learning disabilities
- Family history of attention deficit
- Family history of memory difficulties
- Family history of dropping out of school
The pediatrician may request on your behalf a Multifactorial Learning Disability Assessment to help formulate a 504 plan or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) at your child’s school.
Additional independent testing may also be suggested by your pediatrician who will most likely refer you to neuropsychological resources.
Your pediatrician might tell you that every person’s brain works differently and parents should help children build upon their strengths and develop their talents in spite of their learning disability because your child is not lazy or stupid.
Another Way to Think About a Learning Disability
Today’s children are constantly bombarded with environmental toxins found in our food, water, air, and soil.
The result is that children have developed chronic inflammatory responses from toxic exposures which are causing changes in their brain, immune, sensory and nervous systems.
It is no surprise that there are so many children experiencing some form of a learning disability given the amount of lead, mercury, aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, formaldehyde and many other very toxic pathogens affecting their young brains and sensitive gastrointestinal systems.
Our digestive system is home to trillions of good bacteria found in our microbiome, but in the presence of toxic pathogens this bacteria can alter the functioning of your child’s brain and behaviors.
Children are much more sensitive to toxic exposures than adults and can very quickly develop toxic overload which ultimately affects neurological functioning.
However, researchers now know that the brain has the ability to change (neuroplasticity) and create new connections and generate new brain cells.
Positive energy coupled by a multifaceted approach to healing a learning disability can help your child achieve greater outcomes; see our checklist below.
A Learning Disability Checklist to Start
Make dietary changes:
- Eat whole foods
- Buy organic foods
- Remove all GMO foods
- Remove all fast and processed foods
- Remove all foods with:
- Artificial colors
- Artificial ingredients
- With an elimination diet, remove potentially inflammatory foods such as:
- Strictly limit:
- Refined salt
- Refined carbohydrates
- Consider implementing a low glutamate diet and/or the Feingold diet
Include plenty of good quality fats, such as:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Wild salmon
- Organic chicken
- Organic turkey
- Grass-fed ghee
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Essential fatty acids from:
- Cod liver oil
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
- Evening primrose oil
- Borage oil
- Walnut oil
Remove vegetable oils such as:
Include plenty of high-quality proteins with every meal, such as:
- Pasture-raised eggs and chicken
- Grass-fed beef
- Wild-caught fish
Heal the gut with special diets such as:
- GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) diet
- Paleo diet
- GF/CF (gluten-free/casein-free) diet
- Body Ecology Diet
- Modified Atkins Diet (replaces the Ketogenic diet)
Learn more about healing diets and foods.
Clean up your environment:
- Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
- Remove carpets
- Use non-toxic cleaners
- Use non-toxic building materials
- Green your home
Ask your pediatrician to run some laboratory tests for:
- Possible food sensitivities and allergies
- Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) IgG, IgA, IgE and IgM
- Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. The NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs covers the following areas:
- Cellular energy
- Mitochondrial metabolism
- Neurotransmitter metabolism
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Toxin exposure
- Detoxification need
- Bacterial and yeast overgrowth
- Gluten and casein sensitivities
- Organic acids: The organic acid test by Great Plains Laboratory for yeast overgrowth and Candida, oxalates, and other microbial infections
- Neurotransmitters: Neurorelief (Neurosciences Laboratory) is a specialty lab that tests neurotransmitters to determine chemical imbalances in the brain
Use homeopathy specific for:
- Learning disabilities:
- Baryta carbonica
- Calcarea carbonica
- Baryta iodatum
- Carcarea phosphorica
- Anacardium orientale
- Agaricus muscarius
- Thuja occidentalis
- Ammonium carbonicum
- Crotalus horridus
- Nux vomica
- Lycopodium clavatum
- Thuja occidentalis
- Lycopodium clavatum
- Consider using Schueller’s cell tissue salts which can be effective as well.
- Sequential homeopathy can also be specific for learning disabilities, if needed.
Add fermented foods and probiotics daily:
These will keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong.
- Eat kefir yogurts
- Eat fermented vegetables
- Eat umeboshi plums (very alkalizing)
- Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
Some good probiotics are:
- Gut Pro
- Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics
- Garden of Life
- Klaire Labs
Use herbs, essential oils and natural supplements with your practitioner’s guidance:
- Neuromins DHA
- MCT coconut oil
- Frankincense oil
- Trace minerals
- Methylcobalamin B12
- Folinic acid or 5MTHF
- Cognitive amino acids
- Lavender oil
- Essential fatty acid
- Grapeseed extract
- Gotu kola
- Gingko biloba
- Dimethylglycine (DMG)
- Vitamin D3
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC): helps with detoxification process and healing of the gastrointestinal tract
- MSM transdermal cream
- Epsom salts bath
Use digestive aids with your practitioner’s guidance:
- Betaine hydrochloric acid
- Digestive enzymes with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
- Proteolytic enzymes
Help your child detoxify:
- Ionic foot baths can help detox unwanted pathogens and are easy to do with children
- Infared saunas can detox heavy metals through the skin by sweating.
Learn about retained primitive reflexes:
Most, if not all, children with neurodevelopmental disorders including learning disabilities, have retained primitive reflexes.
Find a therapist that is trained in integrating primitive reflexes, which can cause imbalances in the way your child’s brain performs.
See a chiropractic neurologist at a Brain Balance Center:
The Brain Balance program can help balance the right and left brain hemispheres and make neural connections to extinguish primitive reflexes.
See a neurofeedback practitioner:
Neurofeedback is approved as a level-one intervention by the American Academy of Pediatrics for ADD and ADHD, which are learning disabilities.
Even if your child doesn’t have ADD or ADHD, they may still benefit from neurofeedback.
Find a practitioner that can perform a QEEG (quantitative electroencephalograph) brain map first so you can understand how your child’s brain works.
See a sensory-integration occupational therapist:
These OTs address a variety of sensory issues with a child using hands-on equipment. This type of therapy calms down the nervous system to help integrate the senses and retained reflexes.
See a chiropractor:
A chiropractor can perform spinal cord adjustments, which can improve communication in the nervous system.
See a craniosacral practitioner:
Craniosacral therapy can reestablish central nervous system functioning.
See a behavioral/developmental optometrist:
A developmental optometrist can check for convergence and tracking problems with your child’s vision.
He or she can correct these issues with vision therapy, lens and prisms.
Doing so can improve hand-eye coordination and school performance.
See an auditory therapist:
Many children with learning disabilities have auditory processing problems that may be causing problems with focus and concentration.
An auditory therapist can devise a listening program that is specific to your child’s needs.
Find a therapist doing Brain Gym:
A Brain Gym practitioner can have your child do exercises for sensorimotor coordination, self-calming and self-management.
See a homeopath or naturopath:
These practitioners can diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.
Still Looking for Answers?
Sources & References
Baker, S.M. A biochemical approach to the problem of dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 1985 18(10): 581-584.
Darling, A.L., et al. Association between maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Br J Nutr. 2017 Jun;117(12):1682-1692.
Edwards, E.S., et al. Dyslexia on a continuum: A complex network approach. PLOS ONE, 2018; 13 (12): e0208923.
Hertz-Picciotto, I., et al. Organophosphate exposures during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment: Recommendations for essential policy reforms. PLoS Med. 2018 Oct 24;15(10):e1002671.
Morris, C.R., et al. Syndrome of allergy, apraxia, and malabsorption: characterization of a neurodevelopmental phenotype that responds to omega 3 and vitamin E supplementation. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Jul-Aug 2009;15(4):34-43.
Warner, B.B. The contribution of the gut microbiome to neurodevelopment and neuropsychiatric disorders. Pediatr Res. 2019 Jan;85(2):216-224.
Zaigham, M., et al. Prelabour caesarean section and neurodevelopmental outcome at 4 and 12 months of age: an observational study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2020 (20)564.
College of Optometrists in Vision Development. Vision and Dyslexia. 2008
Johnson, Kathy. Dyslexia: Recognizing, Screening and Treating. Albany, NY. Pyramid of Potential, 2014.
Lambert, Beth, et al. Brain Under Attack: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers of Children with PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalitis. Answers Publications, 2018.