When kids are forgetful and disorganized and have to use all their resources to survive each day, they may have a learning disability. Unless teachers and parents understand how difficult it is for such children, they won’t be able to relate to them.
Here’s what 12-year-old Joey explained to me: “Those teachers are losin’ it. They get nuts if you forget a pencil! I’m talkin’ about a pencil! I have to remember which room to go to each period, how to get there, what book I need, if I have my homework, if I can get to the bathroom in those few minutes, and if it’s A, B, C or D day, and they want me to remember a pencil too?” For more information about diagnosing a learning disability, keep reading!
Joey’s not lazy or stupid or trying to annoy his teachers. He’s been classified with a learning disability.
If your child is experiencing some difficulties at school, don’t be too quick to blame him. Instead, find out what’s really going on. Your child may have a learning disability. Many become frustrated and angry with their children or with the teachers and the schools. They blame their child for being lazy, for having a low frustration level, or for giving up too quickly. They invariably lecture and punish her when she gets poor grades.
Here are three strategies to follow if you think your child might have a learning disability.
- Shift your attention to find the cause of the learning the learning disability. In order to solve the problem, you need to shift your attention from the bad grades to the more important issue: what is causing the bad grades. Once you find what is causing your child to struggle and find ways to fix or overcome that, his grades will automatically go up. You can think of this in terms of cause and effect. The bad grades are only the effect. Once you find the cause and remedy it, the bad grades will cease to be a problem.
- Become your child’s ally. When a child struggles because of a learning disability, it’s hard for both the child and the parents. In such situations, parents should behave as their children’s allies, not their adversaries. They need to help their children by trying to identify the causes of the problems, and then to help them resolve their problems through remediation and/or accommodation. Again, it’s not an easy task. But to insure school success, parents need to understand the real problems their children are experiencing, and then find the support they need.
- Find out what assistance is available for children with learning disabilities. The good news is that no parent or child needs to experience such frustration and anger. If your child is struggling, there’s plenty of help available, both through the school and through private counseling and tutoring. Talk to the teachers, counselors, administrators, psychologists, physicians, friends, relatives, and neighbors. Find out what assistance is available, and how to go about taking advantage of these services.
Always remember that your goal is to insure that your child experiences school success. If it takes navigating around a few more bumps than you had anticipated, that’s okay.
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