Raising a Child with a Learning Disability
Every parent wants to lavish their child with love and support. For children with learning disabilities, this is even more important to build their confidence and motivate them to keep going even when things get tough. To begin with, a parent has to cope with the stress and confusion about the child’s performance before they are diagnosed, undergo the stress of taking their child for a formal assessment and deal with the possibility of a serious diagnosis. Once you have the diagnosis in hand, you might feel overwhelmed with the idea that your child will be fighting this challenge for years to come. Whilst there might not be any ‘cure’ as such for many of the learning disabilities, what’s more important is to give your child the support and compassion they need to cope with it. Eventually, they will grow up to be stronger and more resilient adults. Keeping a positive attitude will set a good model for the child to follow, and give them the confidence to take on the world. Here are some ways you can maintain that attitude.
Working with your child:
Try to see the bigger picture
A learning disability does not define your child. One needs to work on their mindset to see this as an opportunity to teach your child how to face obstacles and overcome them with a healthy attitude.
Don’t hide your child’s condition
There’s no need to feel shame about your child’s difficulty. Hiding it from friends, family and even teachers can be even more harmful, as they will then not be sensitive to your child’s unique needs. Your child will only end up hurt and confused. Share the news and you’ll be able to find support both for yourself as well as your child.
Remember that you are your child’s role model
Accepting your child’s challenges with grace, good humour and hard work will mean that your child will do the same. If you give in to the stress and frustration, your child will learn that it’s the only way to deal with their issues.
Enjoy your child
It can take such an effort to deal with your child’s disability, that you may not spend enough time focusing on their strengths. Appreciate your child for their talent at sports, art or their great sense of humour. Let them know that there’s more to them than just their disability.
Know how your child learns
Every child, regardless of their ability, has a unique way of learning. Find out what works for your child, whether it’s repetition, visual learning or doing, and strengthen it.
Remember to look after yourself
To provide your child with a healthy upbringing, you need to first be healthy yourself. If you’re stressed out or emotionally exhausted, you’re in no shape to help your child. Learn how to de-stress. Have a healthy social life. Look after your body. Join a support group. Keep yourself healthy and happy.
Working with the educational system:
Take charge of their education
Be an active part of your child’s education. Ensure that they are deriving some educational benefit from their schooling and not just being pushed to maximise achievement. Learn about the various services and programmes your child is eligible for and enroll them.
Speak up for your child’s rights
Children with disabilities are sometimes shunned by mainstream education institutions. It’s your duty to ensure that your child gets their due, and that means speaking up and being more proactive.
Focus on goals
Know exactly what you want from the schooling system and what is possible for them to deliver. Remember to keep your child’s need at the forefront rather than fighting larger battles.
Listen and acknowledge the school’s limitations
Make sure you understand what authorities are saying. Ask for clarification if you need them. Try and understand the situation from their perspective, so you can reach some compromise rather than simply pushing for extremes. The school is dealing with several systemic regulations and the needs of many more children. Acknowledge that they cannot always prioritise your child’s needs and it will save you a lot of frustration.
Do your research
Stay up to date with new developments in therapies and educational techniques. While others study the disability in general, you are the expert in your child’s unique problems and you should be equipped with the tools to handle them.
Offer new solutions
Being outside the system, you have a unique insight into your child’s educational needs. Don’t feel hesitant to offer your ideas.
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