“Your child has a learning disability.” Six words that a parent never wants to hear, but something that one out of every seven Americans has. Learning disabilities (LD) are neurological disorders. It does not mean your child is incapable of learning, it just means that their brain is wired differently. Most children with learning disabilities are as smart (or even smarter!) than their peers.
A child with a learning disability; however, may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, recalling or organizing information or reasoning or a combination of all of these. If left to figure things out for themselves or taught by conventional methods, they will not be able to thrive and come to their full potential.
Our Learning Disabilities Story
My eldest son has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I knew this by the time he was just two years old. He was not “formally” diagnosed though until he was age six and attended kindergarten for the first time. He lasted two hours before they expelled him for the remainder of the year. My youngest son has exhibited signs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and their father has a little bit of both. All three of my testosterone carriers have also exhibited various types of learning disorders.
My husband still struggles with reading because he was never taught how to make that connection with his disability. He was taught in the “conventional” methods back in the 60s before learning disabilities were fully understood and the methods in which to successfully treat individuals with learning disabilities were put into place in public schools. Thankfully, my children have not had to deal with that, and receive exceptional services through each of their schools.
Our road has not been an easy one, and I would like to share some tips with you that I’ve learned over the years.
5 Tips for Dealing with Learning Disabilities
- Understand the LD that You are Dealing With. In order to help your child reach their full potential, you have to understand everything there is to know about that particular learning disability. The National Center for Learning Disabilities is a virtual gold mine of information for parents of children with LD and adults with LD. Be sure to review their Resources page for information that pertains to you and your child. There are several different sections:
- Checklists and Worksheets – easy-to-use, printable forms designed to make it easier to manage LD
- FAQs – answers to specific questions about LD
- Ask the Experts – in-depth information on learning disabilities and related issues from certified NCLD experts
- Videos – learn thru these informative videos, featuring experts and individuals with LD alike
- Podcasts – audio interviews covering a wide range of topics of interest to everyone dealing with LD
- Success Stories – Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, General George Patton, Whoopi Goldberg and Charles Schwab are just a handful of famous individuals who have a LD which did not affect their ultimate success in life
- E-Books – download e-books such as 50 Questions about LD, Executive Function Around the Clock, and the IEP Meeting Planner (all extremely useful!)
- LD Talks – live online discussions
- Resource Locator – find resources in your area
- Talk to Your Child’s Educators. Being your child’s champion means having a good relationship with their teachers and caregivers. Discuss various ways that your child can benefit from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. You can download the NCLD parent toolkit “IEP Basics for Parents of Students with LD” to help you decide.
- Develop their Social and Emotional Skills. Children with a LD run a greater risk of having problems dealing with their emotions and in knowing how to behave in certain situations. Sadly, children with learning disabilities most likely will have to deal with bullying at some point or another. You can download this school toolkit from NCLD “The Truth About Bullying” to help you and your school system define steps to take if this should happen. Helping your child develop their social and emotional skills is a recipe for success both academically and socially.
- Have a Solid Support System. Having a solid support system – for both you and your child – is vitally important. Your child needs a trusted individual at school that they can turn to who will listen, intervene, and advocate for them just as much as you need a support system that will help you when you are feeling as though you cannot make it through one more day.
- Take Care of Yourself. Depending on the level of disability you are dealing with, it can be a strain on your family and your mental well-being. You need to take time to recharge your batteries and gain balance back in your life when you begin to feel overwhelmed and unable to deal with even the smallest of matters. You need to be able to take time for you – even if it is just an hour locked in the bathroom taking a bubble bath – to recharge your batteries and get your game face on again!
I hope that you’ll find these tips informative and useful to you in your quest to provide the best possible care for your loved one with a learning disability. While I wrote this post from a parent’s perspective, each of these tips can also be applied towards assisting an adult family member with a learning disability.
Some days are better than others. We all know that our children are exceptional. Sometimes parenting that exceptional child can be a daunting task at times, and life will throw you a curve ball every now and again. How you deal with them, is entirely up to you. Learn from the experience, make changes where change is needed, and take things one day at a time. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this – LOVE YOUR CHILD UNCONDITIONALLY. Your constant love and support is the strongest weapon that you have in your arsenal.
Follow those few simple tips, and you’ll be able to deal with any type of issue having a family member with a learning disability can bring your way. Do you have a tip that you have found works for you? Add it in the comment section and let our readers know!
Disclosure: This post is supported by an editorial partnership with NCLD. All opinions are, of course, my own.