To Discuss or Not?
If your child has a learning disability, he or she may not know WHAT is wrong, but the child usually knows SOMETHING is wrong. This can create a feeling of isolation and anxiety. Some parents fear telling a child too much will contribute to these feelings, but many experts say this is the time to communicate with your child.
Stacy Costa of School Answers Learning Center says parents often ask, “Should I tell my son/daughter that they have a learning disability?” Each child is unique and I believe that it depends on the child. I do however believe that children should be aware of how they learn and the type of learner that they are."
Any discussion of a learning disability should be backed by knowledge. Parents need to be armed with as much information about their child’s disability as they can be. It’s best to focus on what the child can do rather than what he or she cannot do.
David Urion, MD suggests: “As in other circumstances, parents should learn to listen to the child, answer the questions the child has, and only go further when the child requests more information. Too much information can be overwhelming.”
Feelings of frustration can be especially strong in bright or gifted children. They may not understand why they are good at some things, but can’s master others. This can create a feeling of guilt about being a disappointment to the family.
Experts say one of the most important things for any parent to remember is that a learning disability is just one part of the child, and children with learning disabilities just learn differently. Acceptance and support at home helps alleviate feelings of isolation and guilt.
Costa says, "We are constantly working with children and their parents to identify the way children learn, and to make sure the parents, and the schools/teachers are aware of their learning profile so that instruction can match to increase knowledge."
Betty Osman, PhD recommends some ways to show support:
• Praise for effort rather than only results.
• When honestly given, compliments are vitamins to one’s self-esteem and probably should be dispensed in larger doses than usual for young people with learning disabilities.
• Look for and find the child’s strengths, preferably outside of an academic setting
It may also help to show your child examples of people who have faced the same struggles. There’s a long list of very creative people and leaders of industry who are learning disabled. Seeing what these people have accomplished can help your child to see the possibilities in his own life.
School Answers offers a complete range of diagnostic testing along with counseling and related services. Our fully certified staff can help guide you through the entire process as well as offer your child the support his or her learning disability requires. We help your child with organizational skills, tutoring and homework help. We’re there to see that your child becomes the best student possible and to overcome those feelings of inadequacy. Contact us to find out how we can be there for you.
Betty Osman, PhD