How Parents Can Help Their Children with Learning Disabilities
Parents of children with learning disabilities often find it overwhelming to try to help their children learn even the simplest of tasks. It is easy to feel compelled to leave their child’s education to the professionals who have spent many hours learning the details of the disability impacting their child. While placing children in highly reputed schools for children with learning difficulties, like John Cardinal O’Connor School, is almost always a good first step, parents should never minimize the role they play in helping their children learn on every level.
One of the first things parents need to realize, according to HelpGuide.Org, is that the end goal is to help their child have a happy and fulfilling life. The support that you provide as a parent will help your child build self-confidence that is needed to achieve success throughout their lives.
There are different types of learning disabilities, and differences between the different children that fall within the same category. Accepting the fact that their child has a learning disability is the first challenge parents must face. Once they do, there is often unfounded guilt that the condition is somehow their fault. The sooner they are able to accept the situation for what it is, the sooner they will be able to make the best decisions and perform the tasks that will help their child the most.
Start with School
The law grants every child the right to an education, regardless of the value it will be to them individually. Public schools are familiar with ADHD, Dyslexia, and other learning disabilities that children are commonly diagnosed with today. However, schools for learning disabilities thoroughly understand that different teaching methods are more effective with different children. They also have more resources for giving children with disabilities the time and focus they need to tackle their problems and help them to become more successful.
According to Dr. Martin Kutscher, an expert in pediatrics and neurology, learning disabilities typically fit into one of three broad categories:
- Developmental speech and language disorders
- Academic skills disorders
- “Other” – a catch-all phrase that Dr. Kutscher describes as a heading for coordination disorders and learning handicaps that don’t fall into the two previous categories
Children with learning disabilities may simply be slower at developing some abilities than other children their age. They have the same intelligence, but may lack the ability to interpret writing or sounds. The best way for children to improve is through the specialized instruction they receive at school, and with some supportive help from you. These are some of the ways you can help your child:
Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory Processing Disorder is believed to be a matter of being unable to process sound rather than an inability to hear. A child’s auditory system continues to develop until they are about 15 years of age. Parents can help by reducing the background noise at home and making sure they are looking at you when you speak to them. Speak a little slower and louder when talking to them. If you are helping with homework, ask them to repeat the instructions to you until they are completed.
Students with ADHD are usually hyperactive and have difficulty focusing. Parents often feel that their child with ADHD shouldn’t be disciplined, because they have no control over their actions. Instead, parents are encouraged to discipline their child and remain consistent about what is expected of them. This lets them know that you expect them to be able to learn and grow. It also gives the child the necessary security to feel that the parent is in control and can keep them safe.
Sensory Processing Disorder
Children with Sensory Processing Disorder have difficulty receiving and interpreting information that they receive through their senses. They may be either over- or under-sensitive to stimulation, or both. The ways that you can help at home depend on the individual needs of your child. You need to observe what your child seeks and avoids. For instance, if he doesn’t like bright light, accommodate him with a lower wattage light in his room. Also, work on the things that make him feel secure, even if it is something that doesn’t make sense to you.
Dyslexia is a condition in which children see letters and words differently than they really are. Treatment for dyslexia focuses on phonics. The best approach for parents is to read to them and encourage the child to read as much as possible. Provide corrective feedback and play games that incorporate fun with learning.
Parents can take an active role in helping their children with a learning disability live a happy, healthy life.
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