Family - Parenting
By: - at May 23, 2013

Parenting Children with Learning Disabilities

kids with learning disabilities

Having a learning disability should not hinder living oneís life to the fullest, stop them from fulfilling dreams and aspirations, and making things happen. More than just providing the needs of children, like food and education, they need to be reaffirmed that they are loved, supported and encouraged to be the best they can be. Every child is unique. This means that they have their own strengths and challenges. With their personal struggles, children with a learning disability (LD) need lots of support from home, school and the community. With the positive and helpful response from these three important institutions, persons with LD can survive daily struggles as they are equipped with amazing self-confidence, determination, and unconditional love and support.

kid struggling with homework

Far from common understanding, having LD is not like suffering from a mental disorder or impairments on hearing or seeing that makes learning and achieving quite tough, if not impossible. Additionally, it is not a product of illiteracy, or knowledge and performance of basic life skills. LD is more like having a different brain process attacking a certain task like those of math or language. Since it is not apparent to those in the majority of the population, we consider it a little odd or deviating from normalcy.

Every child encounters some difficulty in school, no matter how simple things may seem. It can never be denied that some studentsí learning styles do not match those of their teachers, making it difficult to grasp ideas easily. However, if the child seems to have recurring problems with one of the areas of 3Rs- arithmetic, reading and writing, perhaps LD is present.

The Teachers
The Teachers In a diverse classroom, there is a high probability that teachers will find students with learning disabilities. Since these students process information differently, they confront problems and coursework contrary to what is expected. Though they have difficulties in their cognitive, biological and socio-emotional processes, teachers understand that they are teachable. Effective strategies are then employed to address a diagnosed weakness.

Inside the classroom, the teacher can foster learning by adjusting techniques. Students with LD can survive in a typical classroom when the teacher responds to their needs like clarifying understanding of a concept, reducing or restructuring of coursework, and remedial lessons. When the teacher is emphatic, students with LD can gain confidence that will help them achieve and progress individually or as part of the group.

The Parents
parents hugging childrenThere are many factors that would shape the parentsí response to knowing their child has LD. This can be one of the major causes of stress to them. Somehow dependent on the level and complexity of the disability, parents are likely to suffer denial. The child would be very lucky to be one of those whose parents are positive, accepting, and supporting. In many cases, parents have the tendency to put this situation in secrecy for the shame of being ridiculed or discriminated. With this, the child will suffer being pushed to perform as much as their peers who do not have LD. Special interventions may be refused, and unfortunately still, the other parent or the teacher can be the target of blame. Research says that most often it is the fear of parents that their children wonít be able to live normal lives that triggers all parental denial. What parents fail to recognize is the fact the LD is not a type of retardation, but a slight divergence from what we consider normal processes and behavior.

The Community
community, social worker, teacherWith awareness of the struggles and capabilities of people with LD, the community should be supportive. In many places, groups have succeeded in educating parents and the people in the community the truth about learning disabilities. Most of these advocates have resulted in the establishment of stronger support teams like individuals volunteering for information dissemination, offering tutorial help, and influencing the government to pass laws safeguarding the rights and privileges of people with LD. Additionally, social workers, healthcare providers and locals work collaboratively to address the problems and help improve lives.

Despite the enormous support of the community, the family is still considered the source of strength and inspiration for children with a L.D. When family members exhibit support and enthusiasm in finding help for a family member with LD, it is easier to build a support network.

Learning Disability as a Personal Challenge
When an individual does not function the way we normally do, it causes them to lose their self-worth and confidence. This can hinder their personal, academic and social development. Since LD is life-long, those who do not feel the support of the social institutions are likely to distance themselves from people, and lose their opportunity to achieve things in life.

With all the pressure they likely get from their disapproving parents or family members, persons with LD have no idea where and from whom to seek help. Moreover, instead of developing an independent mindset, they may become reliant on how their peers respond to things so they wonít get ostracized. Despite the full support of the school, there is a greater demand for continued assistance outside of the classroom and if this cannot be provided, it will lead to poor social adaptations.

sad kid with disability

Parenting Tips for Children with Learning Disabilities
To help people with LD help themselves is the heart of every program related to their development and welfare. This is especially true as most may resort to trying remedies thinking they can cure children with LD. Parents should recognize the fact that they are to serve as the source of strength to face challenges. They are to provide a support system that augments the emotional and social limits of children with LD. Remember that a positive attitude towards helping people with LD may not be a solution to the problem, but has a big impact on how the child is supposed to face the world; being quite different from the rest.

The following are tips for parents to deal with children having learning disabilities:

  1. Look at the bigger pictureLook at the bigger picture. We assign different meanings to the word success, and for parents, this would probably mean a child who excels in class. Who wouldnít want to think of their children living happily with a great profession, able to maintain healthy relationships, and living the life they dreamed for themselves? Then the reality of having LD came. A majority of the parents consider this a sudden blunder to the dreams they were trying to build for their children. What we fail to recognize is the fact that a successful life isnít totally dependent on our academics or SAT scores. Look at the list of the most successful people and you will find out that many of them had LD. Instead of losing hope, they worked their way up taking advantage of what they did best. When a child is diagnosed with LD, help them develop self-awareness and confidence to recognize and accept who they are. Other than the intervention they can get from school, support them in enhancing special talents. Make them passionate on the special skills they possess. A missing ability is actually compensated with being overly talented in some different areas of life and unique interests. If a child exhibits talent in music or dance, focus on that. You may never have a child become a doctor, but you can be assured one can become an artist; equally successful and happy with what they do.
  2. Be involved with the childís educationBe involved with the childís education. When parents are in denial about a child having LD, blaming the teacher is common. Often, many parents would expect the educators and the school system to do all the necessary things for the child; this should not be the case. Instead of just waiting for things to turn out right for the kid, parents should go out and play the role of a lead. It is necessary to understand fully the type and degree of LD so you can take action outside of the classroom. Though schools are mandated to implement programs for the welfare of those with LD, parents can help maximize their childís achievement by understanding the situation and providing for their needs. To be successful in advocating your childís needs, know the law and talk to the school. Find out what they can provide for the kid so you know where to start with your solutions. Do research or seek information from outside groups to clarify the needs and accomplish what you want for your child. When presenting the case to the teacher, do not be demanding and self-centered. Remember that the school handles LD problems with some other students, so you must know how to negotiate. It is essential to embrace the fact that the child can never be perfect, but has the potential to excel with the things they do best.
  3. Spot learning preferences.  Because no one is perfect, bear in mind that LD should not define your childís life. In fact, a learning disability is like a weakness that everybody has. That means there are many other areas that can be strengths. Instead of demanding outstanding academic performance affected mainly by the disability, identify your kidís learning style. Find out if your child is a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. This is one of the best ways to help augment your childís difficulty even after leaving the classroom. After school, devote time to check your childís lessons and make review sessions a habit. Clarify if the kid understands the concepts and be ready to devise ways for comprehension when there is time for a challenge. When dealing with a visual learner, make use of visuals like notes or pictures to help recognition or recall. In case the learner is auditory, you can read the notes orally so listening skills can be utilized. You can also make use of question-answer types to help them retain information. With kinesthetic learners, think of ways to foster comprehension by giving hands-on activities like making of crafts or simple props that relate to the lesson. Understand that though there is difficulty, having an individualized design will be helpful.
  4. Maintain a healthy lifestyleMaintain a healthy lifestyle.  For learning to take place, factors like sleep, rest, nutrition intake, and exercises are important. This is because the brain isnít the only part of the body that fosters acquisition of knowledge. Given that the learner has LD, special attention on their lifestyle helps them become alert, enabling them to focus, work on tasks, and achieve more. Instead of burying the kid with bunch of coursework and other supplementary materials, give them leeway to stretch a little before or in between their study times. If the child loves ballet, encourage short sessions to take place. When the child loves playing, let them out for a while so they can re-energize and come back to their studies with a more positive mood. In addition to exercise or play, be watchful of the childís nutrition. Always ensure that they eat healthy and fresh foods everyday to maintain their growth and development. Proper food intake does not only help maintain mental focus but also keep energy levels up. Giving junk foods as a reward for studying should be avoided as it may lead to obesity. To add to the challenges of studying, children these days spend so much time in front of computer screens. It has been proven that looking at electronic screens activates the brain and hinders sleep, making the child unable to focus the next day. It is wise to keep rules on using the computer or playing with gadgets. Other than the physical activities, help the child develop a stable emotional condition. With LD, they might extremely respond to difficulties. Anger, lack of motivation, and even violence can be their expressions of frustration. Help them develop an open communication to pour out their feelings, and regulate their responses to difficulties.
  5. Prepare emotionally and physically.  As a parent to a child with LD, it is helpful to be reminded that we all have to face obstacles in life. These obstacles vary in degree, type, and success rates. Do not get frustrated and wallow on what your child has. Instead, give the kind of emotional and moral support the school or the community canít provide. Though it is normal to be overwhelmed in the beginning, denying that your child is quite different from other children will never help. Donít get discouraged with countless therapies and educational programs your child needs to undergo.

    Prepare emotionally and physically

    As one of the few people who know the child really well, you have access to knowing what things might be helpful to overcome the challenges that go with LD. Donít be ashamed to accept the situation, and talk to people to find professional help. Being a proactive parent may be exhausting at times but the fact that your child relies on you to improve his life, it is all worth your efforts. Be loving yet reasonable, and firm yet tolerant. When everyone else doesnít understand, only you can make a difference and take the lead. Whatever you have shown to your child is likely to be embraced. Concentrate your energy on helping your child be the best he can be.

The hardest part of being a parent to a child with LD is getting caught between what you want your child to be and who they really areThe hardest part of being a parent to a child with LD is getting caught between what you want your child to be and who they really are. Sadly, a learning disability in childhood is carried to adulthood or all throughout the lifetime. Fortunately, LD is never an obstacle to raising kids who are brilliant in their chosen field, living life happily while contributing to society. LD may be irreversible but parents can always do their part to ensure their kids live normal and happy lives. When made aware of the condition and given the proper intervention, students with LD can succeed. This is because they have successfully overcome the flaws with enhancing their special skills and talents making them confident enough to deal with problems personally, emotionally, and even academically or socially. They have known their limitations and turned them into inspirational forces for developing their potential. This is all made possible with the collaboration of the family, school and the community. Parents who are supportive of their children with LD may have faced exhaustion and even gave up on their personal goals to fulfill that of the child, but they have succeeded in ensuring that they can stay abreast with the rest of the world.

People with LD should not be a source of shame in the family, burden for the school, or of ridicule for the community. It should be made known that they are not suffering from mental retardation or disability that hinders the development of their abilities. Understanding their challenges can foster their progress, allowing them to develop into more productive members of society.





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