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Parenting children with learning disabilities

Children who are not flourishing at school as their parents expected are not initially thought to have learning disabilities. Parents with children who display any type of learning disability have a tough time figuring out what’s wrong, and they usually blame themselves. However, instead of a negative approach that will do nothing to improve this complicated situation, we should be more positive and focus on what’s next and what can we do as parents to support our child and help them become successful adults.

It is not easy, and it will probably be one of the most challenging endeavours you’ve ever faced, but there’s much to do from day one, as you will see in this article.

Must-dos after a child gets diagnosed with a learning disability

Suspecting a learning disability in your child and confirming it with a professional in the field does not feel the same. It is possible you’ve felt stricken and numb after receiving the news, and now you don’t really know what to do next. In these cases, it will be useful to have a must-do list to take action as soon as possible:

Make notes and save everything:

After this type of diagnosis, it is essential to make notes of any relevant information by your doctor, letters and e-mails that you consider important, numbers and names of recommended professionals, and much more. Be sure to have an electronic or physical way to record all of this, and save every evaluation and test your child has had.

Request an Individualized Education Program (IEP):

The next step will be performed in your child’s school. They need to evaluate your case with a committee of specialists in order to provide the best type of education to your child according to his diagnosis and learning needs. Be sure to do this within 30 days after the diagnosis has been made.

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Don’t be afraid to speak up:

It is possible you won’t agree with everything that’s been said in your school or some of their decisions. If so, do not hesitate to speak up. It’s your child, and you have the right to be heard.

Talk it out:

It is vital to talk about your challenges and difficulties throughout this process with people who really understand what you’re going through. Thus, meet parents like you and don’t be afraid to look for professional support if you feel things are getting out of hand.

Children with learning disabilities can be successful adults

Your child will probably enter an IEP tailored to his educational needs and learning disabilities. However, that does not mean that things will be easy from now on. It is highly likely that they will grow up to be an adult with learning disabilities, and it will be challenging all the way through. However, many of these adults with learning disabilities have a successful and happy life, and that’s what we want for your child. It is possible to become a productive part of society and live a rewarding life regardless of any learning disability. The secret to achieving this is identifying and fostering success attributes in your children.

Success attributes are a set of attitudes, behaviours, and personal characteristics that will allow children to live a successful life regardless of their learning difficulties. They are as follows:

Self-awareness:

It is important for your child to understand that they do have a learning difficulty, but they have many other aspects about themselves. Thus, they are not defined by their limitations. There are more positive aspects than negative ones.

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Goal-setting:

It is very important to have realistic and attainable goals instead of vague and grandiose wishes that will only lead to frustration.

Perseverance:

Your child will face constant failures, and it is essential to stimulate your child to look for alternative strategies and do not give up. They should learn to be flexible, reevaluate what’s wrong and try again.

Proactivity:

Regardless of any learning disability, it is possible to make decisions and act accordingly, assuming responsibility for any action and their consequences. In this process, your child should learn the importance of consulting with others while making decisions, but not hoping that others will make decisions on their behalf.

Besides these traits, there are two additional things we should consider for success:

  • Coping strategies: Living with learning disabilities carries a lot of stress for parents and children alike. Useful coping strategies include looking for counselling, changing tasks, expressing one’s feelings, learning to ask for help, and spending time with friends and family members.
  • Social support: Keep in mind that one of the most fundamental things to achieve success is having a strong support system. In this regard, it is important that parents take the initiative, and there’s a lot we can do to offer our support
Tips for parents to support children with learning disabilities

It is possible to support your child and help him/her develop success attributes. Here are a few tips to do
it:
Fostering self-awareness

  • Create with your child a list of strengths and weaknesses. Be sure not to limit yourself to the academic ground.
  • Do the same thing for you or any other member of your family so your child can see that other people have other types of weaknesses and challenges.
Also Read  Understanding Autism
Fostering goal-setting
  • Help your child creating a list of goals and baby steps to achieve each one.
  • When facing a school project, build with your child a timeline to completion including distractors
    such as screen time, sports, meeting friends, and others.
Fostering perseverance
  • Watch inspirational movements to show how people face adversity. Discuss positive aspects and
    open up your emotions while doing so.
  • Stimulate your child to share personal success stories after persevering.
Fostering proactivity
  • Share your own challenges and the strategies you have employed to overcome every one of
    them.
  • Stimulate your child to share decisions he/she has made and the strategies they have used to
    achieve their goals.
References:

Reiff, H. B., Gerber, P. J., & Ginsberg, R. (1997). Exceeding expectations: Successful adults with learning
disabilities. Pro-ed.

Goldberg, R. J., Higgins, E. L., Raskind, M. H., & Herman, K. L. (2003). Predictors of success in
individuals with learning disabilities: A qualitative analysis of a 20‐year longitudinal study. Learning

Disabilities Research & Practice, 18(4), 222-236.

Corley, M. A., & Taymans, J. M. (2002). Adults with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the
Literature. Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

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