Saturday, March 2, 2013

Could My Child REALLY have a Learning Disability

Do you ever ask yourself why your child isn't getting A+s on her spelling test like little Meg or Dylan? Does homework time at your house turn into war time? When you set out to help with homework, do you find:

A. That you are doing most of the work?
B. That you almost have to physically forcing that child of yours to pick up a pencil?  
C. That homework time is torture for both, you and your child?
D. That you often, sometimes, or always give in or give up?    
E. That homework time often ends with tears (mostly your tears)?                                      

You are NOT alone!!! 
As a present high school special education teacher, former elementary and middle school special education teacher, mother of a child with a learning disability, and adult with learning disability I have heard, seen, and been through it ALL. I know homework is often painful for parent(s) and child. Research reports that 1 in every 5 students in the United States has a learning disability. It can be difficult to imagine your child having learning difficulties, but if you SUSPECT problems DON'T WAIT!. Be proactive in your child’s learning life. The first step is to admit that your child might learn a little differently than other students in the classroom. But you are not in the classroom, so how are you to know these things. Has your child’s teacher reached out to you with concerns about grades, difficulties in the classroom like not participating, or behavior issues? If you answered Yes to any of these 3 you should wave your hands in the air and begin asking questions. BUT let me very clear, I am Not trying to scare the pants off of you by suggesting that if your child’s teacher has contacted you with these concerns - he or she has a learning disability. Students with learning disorders are the first to recognize that they are different. They may not know exactly what is wrong, but they do notice that the kid next to them always gets better grades. Many students refrain from saying anything because they feel like they are doing something wrong or may get into trouble for making bad grades. Students with learning disabilities are often labeled as being “LAZY”; they may even think of themselves as being DUMB (bad word). The words lazy or dumb are not in any of the defining term that describe kids with a  learning disorder, in fact, students with learning disabilities are just as smart as other kids. Often a child with a learning disorder has a higher IQ than that of their “normal’ classmates. A learning disability is not a problem with intellect or motivation, it simply means that their brain is wired a little differently, which can affect how they receive and process information. Example: a computer is programmed to do certain task or respond a certain way, but if one computer is programmed a little differently than the others guess what? You got it...that computer is not going to process or respond in the way the other computers do.. Learning disorder is a term used to cover a wide assortment of learning problems, meaning that no two are alike. Each child with a learning disorder is exceptional. The way they think, hear, and see is unique to that child. One child may struggle with math but loves reading, while another loves to read but can’t understand simple math. The problems are very different, but they all classify as learning disabilities. Although learning disabilities do not have symptoms or stick out like a knot on the head, there are warning signs you can look for, some being more common among age groups. I have listed some common warning signs for learning disabilities, but REMEMBER not to panic if a couple of these behaviors are familiar. The time for concern is when there is a pattern of inconsistency in your child’s ability to master certain skills.
 YES, YES, YES!!!! ,Children with learning disabilities can and do find success. Encouragement from parents, teachers and friends are crucial to that success. Keep in mind that most students with a learning disability has spent many hours tearing their own self esteem apart. You would really be surprised at how far words of encouragement go.
 To be proactive it is super important to pay close attention to your child’s developmental stages. When problems are recognized early they can be addressed appropriately and corrected. However, it is important to know that children that DOES NOT have a learning disability may exhibit some of these difficulties also, but a child with a learning disability will consistently experience these difficulties. Children with learning disabilities can and often do succeed in school and life.

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