Children with learning disabilities are not lacking in intelligence. They are often aware of the differences between themselves and their classmates, particularly the difficulty they have in doing the same schoolwork as the other children in their class. These concerns can lead to a loss of confidence and low self-esteem.
Even if it isn’t obvious that they have these worries, talking with your child about their learning disability will give them an opportunity to share what is on their mind. Below are some pointers on how to talk with your child about their disability.
Don’t Over-Emphasize His Differences – Explain that he learns differently, but we all have areas of weakness that we have to overcome. Explain that he may have to take a different approach to learning, but that he is capable of meeting his academic goals. The instructors at John Cardinal O’Connor School use special teaching techniques that allow children with learning disabilities in Westchester to overcome the challenges of their disability, by adjusting the curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of the student.
Keep the Conversations Coming – Find places in your routine to bring up conversations on a regular basis. You may have an initial discussion after your child has first been diagnosed, but there are many changes that will take place between that time and her progress through high school and beyond. Address changes in her needs and in her understanding of what the learning disability means for her at any given time. Making the discussion about her learning disability a regular one will also make it more comfortable for her to discuss her feelings freely and to identify areas of concern that need to be addressed.
Take His Concerns Seriously – Don’t dismiss his thoughts as insignificant. Even a seemingly minor concern must be important to him, or he probably wouldn’t bring it up. The more you understand about the obstacles that he faces, the easier it will be for you to find solutions. You don’t want to over-emphasize the negatives and make them more daunting than they really are. At the same time, don’t diminish the challenges he faces, or it could make him feel as though he shouldn’t be having as much trouble as he is in overcoming certain aspects.
Give Her Someone to Look Up To – It doesn’t take a lot of research to find celebrities and athletes who have achieved success in spite of learning disabilities. Show her articles that talk about the writers’ disabilities and the challenges they have overcome. Nothing is more inspirational than a real-life example proving that a learning disability may make learning more challenging; but not impossible.
Accentuate the Positive – Schools for learning disabilities like John Cardinal O’Connor School understand the importance of praising children for their successes and building on their strengths. We work with parents to help children build self-confidence that they need to lead a successful life. We know that the role of educators is an important one in helping children with disabilities, but parents also play a big role in helping their children, by giving support and helping them keep a positive attitude. Don’t be afraid to talk about the challenges their disabilities cause, but always offer positive support that will keep them confident and encourage them to work toward a successful outcome.
The first step parents have to take is accepting that their child has been diagnosed with a learning disability that will make academics more challenging throughout the education years. Once they do, and the more they learn about the disability and communicate with educators and their child, the more empowered the child will be to control his or her future.