Insight & Growth    
Children of divorce

Learning Disabilities 

 

 

Learning research shows that we all think and learn differently. However, some children experience unique difficulties with spoken  language (listening and speaking), written language (reading, writing, or spelling), arithmetic, memory, or organization.   Children with learning disabilities often have above average or average intelligence, but struggling to realize their full potential. Their difficulties are due to neurological differences in brain structure or functioning rather than intellectual ability or effort. 

A child or adolescent with a learning difficulty may try to mask their struggles and use his or her strengths to compensate.  This is a natural coping strategy and reflects an area of strength.  However, it can also hinder parents and teachers from recognizing the extent of the learning problem.  Meanwhile, the child knows something isn�t right and internalizes the struggle.  Over time, certain �red flags� appear, such as:  teacher observations of limited student progress, poor report card grades, low standardized test scores, complaints about how hard school is, and a lack of success from participation in a regular school program.   

Young people with a learning disability often have problems that go beyond their struggles with reading, writing, math, memory, or organization.  The experience of repeated failure in school, constant promptings to �try harder� but limited positive feedback, and social difficulties making and keeping friends, can impact their self-worth.   Many experience strong feelings of  frustration, anger, sadness, or shame that can lead to psychological difficulties such as anxiety or depression, loneliness, or behavioral problems such as substance abuse or juvenile delinquency.  These feelings and problems can be  more devastating than the academic challenges, and may follow a child into adulthood.   

When a child or teen has a learning difficulty, it�s particularly important to identify  and respond to these limitations, while at the same time affirming and building on their strengths.  Research shows that the earlier someone receives help for a learning difficulty, the better the results.  A child or adolescent's learning difficulty impacts the entire family and social group, and everyone benefits after the young person receives strategic help and support so they can succeed in school, peer, and work relationships. 

Parental strategies to help a child with a learning disability can include:

  • Obtaining a psycho-educational assessment to properly identify your child's specific learning problems
  • Identifying your child�s strengths so programs can be designed to ensure they experience success
  • Working together with teachers and advocating for the child's needs 
  • Accepting setbacks and focusing on the progress your child makes
  • Being open and honest with your child rather than shielding them from the realities of their disability
  • Encouraging your child to talk and listen to their experiences
  • Recognizing their strengths and praising their successes 

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