School difficulties are not uncommon during teenage years. There are often increasing academic demands at school as well as pressure from peers to spend more time away from home and homework and engaged in social activities. Sorting out whether a decline in school performance is due to poor time management or a specific learning disorder can be tricky.
The Teen Health Center staff can assist in beginning the process of teasing out the true nature of school performance problems. The first thing to do is to make sure there are not any health-related problems that are interfering with the teen’s ability to learn. Health-related problems include substance use, depression, family conflicts and somatic complaints such as headaches, stomach aches, chest pain and fatigue. Once these issues are better understood, the healthcare team might refer the teenager for a comprehensive educational evaluation.
We recommend that families contact their teenagers’ school district to request a comprehensive evaluation. Often that request needs to be in writing. Follow up with the school if you do not receive a response in a reasonable time.
Teenagers may also be referred to a psychologist or an educational specialist at Cincinnati Children’s or in the community for cognitive and academic achievement testing. These tests will assist in determining if the teenager has a learning disability or ADHD or global learning difficulties that interfere with academic performance. Psychology staff can be contacted by calling 513-636-4681.