How to treat and recognize learning disabilities

Carolyn McWilliams, MA Educational Specialist, shares advice for parents on how to recognize and treat learning disabilities in children
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How to treat and recognize learning disabilities

A learning disability is when a child of average or above-average intelligence, and who has good teaching, is not learning and performing as they should. The good news for parents is your child has to be of average or above-average intelligence to be diagnosed as having a learning disability. There are a variety of learning disabilities. There can be auditory processing difficulties, visual processing difficulties, visual-motor difficulties – where a child has difficulty getting their ideas on paper and showing what they know. Dyslexia simply means a difficulty with decoding the processes of reading for one or more reasons. There can be math disabilities, there can be language processing disabilities. The most important thing to know is if your child is not achieving as they should, seek help right away. Talk to the teacher, talk to the school, talk to your pediatrician to find out what services might be available through your health insurance or through school services. Many of the issues are best remediated as early as possible, so it’s important to get help right away and to seek out help so that your child can be able to achieve and feel good about him- or herself as they get older.

Carolyn McWilliams, MA Educational Specialist, shares advice for parents on how to recognize and treat learning disabilities in children


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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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