Does my daughter have a mental disability?

My daughter is in later elementary school. She can't color in the lines. Her words jumble together when she writes unless there are big spaces or she skips lines.

Jennifer Molinari
Jennifer Molinari
Hypnotherapist & Licensed Counselor

Developmentally, there are ages where not coloring in the lines, writing words that are jumbled together, and leaving big spaces or skipping lines are completely normal.  I have seen children in 3rd and in some cases, 4th grade who do not have learning disabilities write in the manner you have described. 

 There is, however, a type of learning disability called Dysgraphia which can present in the ways you have described. If you suspect that your daughter might have Dysgraphia, then the best thing to do is to have educational testing done.  You can request testing by going through your school system and asking for an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) meeting.  Your school is required to honor your request for an IEP meeting.  

At the meeting, you can ask the school to do educational testing that will be at no cost to you.  I will say that depending on where you live and your school system, it can sometimes be difficult to get the school system to do testing.  If that is the case, you can go to a psychologist or find an agency near you that can also perform this type of testing as well (some will accept insurance and others will not.)  There are also educational advocates that you can hire to help you if you ever have difficulty getting your daughter properly assessed by the school system.  I also highly recommend seeing a developmental ophthalmologist and/or a developmental pediatrician.  They can be great resources in helping you to determine if your daughter does have a learning disability.

I always say that a parent should "trust their gut" and if you feel that your child is struggling and that there may be a learning disability then there is no harm in getting your child evaluated.  The best case scenario is that your child is completely on track and what you are seeing is developmentally appropriate.  On the other hand, if your child does have a learning disability, then you have caught it early enough where she can receive services that will help her in the long run. Either way, it is a win, win.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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