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.
Learning Disability Healing Checklist
- Get 10 hours of sleep per night (or more if your child is under 10)
- Get outside every day
- Get an hour of exercise or movement per day
- Sync circadian rhythm by getting up when the sun does and going to bed after it sets
- Limit screen time as much as possible
- Use blue-blocking lightbulbs and glasses at night, especially when looking at screens
- Put bare feet in wet ground when possible
- Drink half body weight in ounces of water
- Eat whole foods
- Buy organic foods
- Eat a clean diet
- Remove all GMO foods
- Remove all fast and processed foods
- Remove all foods with artificial colors, artificial ingredients, artificial flavors, natural flavors, preservatives, phenols and salicylates
- Strictly limit sugars, refined salt and refined carbohydrates
- Consider implementing a low-glutamate diet and/or the Feingold diet
Use Only High-Quality Fats
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil (unheated)
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil
- Grass-fed ghee
- Duck fat
- Grass-fed beef tallow
- Cod liver oil (unheated)
- Walnut oil (unheated)
Remove Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils (Crisco, etc.)
Include High-Quality Protein with Every Meal
- Pasture-raised eggs, chicken and other fowl
- Grass-fed beef, lamb and other red meats
- Wild-caught fish
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Soy protein isolate
- Yeast extract
- Barley malt
- Natural flavors
- Artificial flavors
- Soy sauce
- Corn starch
Add Fermented Foods and Probiotics
- Eat kefir yogurts, if dairy is tolerated
- Eat fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kim chi
- Eat umeboshi plums, which are very alkalizing
- Eat miso soup, if soy is tolerated
- Take a quality probiotic, such as VSL #3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, Klaire Labs. Work with your practitioner for a more targeted probiotic.
Blood sugar that is too low can lead to attention and behavioral problems.
We recommend keeping blood sugar optimized so that it's neither too low nor too high.
- Identify and remove possible environmental triggers, such as mold, dust, pet dander, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
- Identify and remove possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products
- Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
- Remove carpets
- Use non-toxic cleaners
- Use non-toxic building materials
Lower Stress Levels
Viruses, bacteria and other pathogens become more active when the body is in a state of stress.
By teaching your child ways to self-regulate with practices such as prayer, reiki, meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai chi and the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), they can become good advocates for themselves and become active participants in the recovery process.
- Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for possible food sensitivities and allergies
- Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D
- NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs for malabsorption, gut dysbiosis, cellular energy, mitochondrial metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, toxin exposure and detoxification need
- Organic Acid Test (OAT) for yeast overgrowth, other microbial infections and oxalates
- Inflammation markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
- Fasting blood sugar and insulin levels
- Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)
Pathogenic infections and environmental offenders can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause neurological symptoms known collectively as PANS/PANDAS. However, not many practitioners know how to test for and treat these conditions. Common tests are:
- Serum Anti-Streptolysin O (ASO) titer
- Serum Anti-Streptococcal DNase B (ASDB) titer
- Cunningham panel
- Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections
- Specific viruses, especially herpetic viruses
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection
- Heavy metals and other toxins
Use Digestive Aids with your Practitioner's Guidance
- Betaine hydrochloric acid
- Digestive enzymes with DPP-IV for gluten and casein intolerances
- Proteolytic enzymes
- Cod liver oil
- Vitamin D3
- Methylated B complex vitamins
- GABA, especially PharmaGABA
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
- Magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine and other minerals
- Make sure your child is pooping every day. Learn more about how to clear up constipation and diarrhea.
- Have your child exercise or move every day. Sweating carries toxins out of the body.
- See a homotoxicologist, naturopath or homeopath for drainage remedies and detoxification aids.
- Optimize blood sugar to allow the liver to spend more time detoxing rather than processing sugar.
- 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. However, this form of detoxification may not be suitable for young children who lack the ability to sweat.
- Epsom salt baths add sulfur transdermally to help with detox.
Children with developmental delays, cognitive issues and deficits have improper communication between the right and left sides of the brain.
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.
An auditory therapist can devise a listening program that is specific to your child's needs. These programs can retrain the brain, calm down the nervous system and reduce sound sensitivities.
They provide hands-on helping with the practical matters of healing such as cooking healthy foods, removing toxins from the household and helping you work more efficiently with your practitioner.
NAET (Namudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique) and BioSET are two non-invasive methods of allergy elimination.
Still Looking for Answers?
Join us at Healing Together, where you’ll find even more resources plus a community to support you, every step of the way.
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.