I am often asked by parents if I think they should have their child tested for learning disabilities and I always hesitate to answer. My short response is, “If you believe there is something wrong, then honor your gut and find out.” My long answer is much more involved and reflects on my personal education story. learning disabilities
I always knew that I was different than the other kids – I struggled with school and they didn’t. All I wanted to be was “smart”. I longed to be in the gifted group and worked so hard to do my best but was challenged with all aspects of language arts. It was not until I was 29 years old that I was diagnosed with a learning disorder, dyslexia. This was not a surprise to me. But was a validation that I am smart. I just learn differently than others. I realized I had taken ownership of my life at a very young age – adopting different techniques to help me learn and do well in school. I did not allow my disability to own me.
Information is power and how we use that power is very important. So what should you do if you discover that your child struggles with his learning? Do not allow the child to use it as a crutch. Insist on the best effort. We all have subjects and activities that we thrive in and struggle with, but it is the struggle that helps us to become stronger and more resilient.
If you have a child who struggles in school, here are some other ways you can help.
5 Proven Ways to Help a Child with Learning Disabilities
- Let the child know the learning disability does not define him or her. It is just a piece of the puzzle. I was never defined by my dyslexia because I did not know about it until adulthood.
- Help the child to find ways to learn best. This is where a clear diagnosis can be extremely helpful because there are many resources out there to help with specific learning issues. Do not be afraid to have your child try many different ways to learn different subject matter. You would be surprised with some of the unique ways I created for myself to learn. l
- Tell the child he is smart. Better yet, find something he feels smart doing. This is the one thing that gave me the motivation and energy to work hard in the areas I struggled. I always believed I was smart in math and my mother continually encouraged me. She would ask me math questions, do puzzles, and showed me how cooking was like math by letting me try new recipes.
- Allow the child to be frustrated with school sometimes. I remember crying and thinking if I struggle with 4th grade how am I going to do high school. But I was always told that I could do it. For every struggling grade I was shown how good I was at something else or was given a little extra help to get through. This helped me to continue to work hard.
- Above all….love your child through it all knowing he is not you. Even without a learning disability your child will learn differently than you. Talk with the child about how he learns best and what makes him feel good about school.
Even though I was not tested as a child I do believe in testing our youth today. Unlike when I was growing up, today we can diagnose very specific learning problems and offer many different solutions. Testing only tells you how your child learns. The important thing is how we help and guide our children through this process, not allow their diagnosis to hurt but to help them in and outside of school. l
Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
By Megan Stone, M.Ed.
Wife to Rick
Mom of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.
Author of Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (And Life)
Check out Megan’s book, Own Your Education:
A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in (And Life)!