I have learning disabilities. Twelve, actually. Learning disabilities can make things in and out of school more difficult, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do to help. Obviously, not everything that helped me will help all children, and not all learning disabilities are the same. Some are more severe than others and nothing is one size fits all when it comes to our children, their education, or the way our brains work. All of that being said, here are some tricks that worked for me and that I will be using to work with my daughter, whom we just found out also has learning disabilities.
Get testing done for Disabilities
This is the very first step in the journey of learning disabilities. If you feel that there is anything going on that is hindering your child’s learning, get them tested. Not all learning disabilities will present in the same way, and sometimes something that looks like dyslexia, may not be dyslexia at all. I got tested for learning disabilities when I was in third grade. It was life changing. Before I was tested, I was on track to have a terribly hard time in school, only getting further and further behind. After my testing, my whole view of school was changed. I began to enjoy it and was afforded the help that I needed. It is every parent’s right to request testing for their child, however, each state and district has different procedures. Here is a link with more information about your rights as a parent to seek testing for your child.
Use the assistance
Once it is determined if your child has a learning disability, and what kind it is, your child will be given assistance through the school. Use them. This could mean that your child will have their tests read to them, or they may waive all time restrictions on tests. As time goes on, your child may choose/need to use the assistance less and less. If anything, the assistance may help to boost your child’s confidence, and that alone may make a big difference.
Work with your child to figure out their learning style
It took me a long time to figure out my learning style. I didn’t truly figure it out until I was in college. For me, I need a very structured learning pattern when it comes to math and other hands-on activities. First, I need to watch someone do the problem, then do a problem with them, next I need to do it while with the teacher watching while I do it, and lastly, I need to do it on my own. Yes, this method has many steps and sounds like a lot of work. However, it is what works for me. Not all teachers are going to have the time to work with a student that diligently, so some of the teaching may land on you, as the parent. Just remember, that all people learn differently, so it will take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your child.
Always be supportive
While finding out that your child has learning disabilities can be overwhelming, just remember that your child is still the same kid they’ve always been. They’re still the bright, funny, cheerful little kid that you have been loving and helping to learn all their lives. In many cases, if a learning disability is present, it has been there since birth. Nothing has changed, and if you show them your anxiety or drastically change the way you treat them, they will most likely begin to feel like there is something wrong with them. Be sure to confront any of their fears. I know, as a child I was worried that there was something wrong with me, that I was stupid, or that other kids would find out and make fun of me. These are pretty normal feelings for a kid when they are told there is something different about them. Do your best to show them that nothing is different, except for some of the steps you will be taking when it comes to learning certain things and/or testing.
You will make it through this. I was diagnosed with twelve learning disabilities at 8 years old. My parents were overwhelmed. Now, my daughter has been diagnosed with learning disabilities too, and I was, scratch that, am feeling overwhelmed by it. However, I know that we will make it through all of this because if I could go from a kid with several forms of dyslexia and become a writer, then my daughter can go on to do even more amazing things with her life. I can also feel confident that I will always be my child’s educational advocate and I will never stop fighting for her right to the education she deserves. If you do that, then are doing perfectly well.