When your child gets diagnosed with a learning disability, it is easy to fall into worry. You may be concerned about their performance in school, social life, and general success. But as a parent, your job is not to worry about their potential learning disability. Your job is to give them all the support and tools necessary to have the best possible childhood and independent adulthood.
“All children need love, encouragement, and support, and for kids with learning disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough,” Helpguide writes.
So, how can you begin to give your child the support they need after a learning disability diagnosis? Follow these tips to get started.
- Communicate with their teachers. A recent survey found that 96% of parents think that proper instruction can make up for a learning disability. And oftentimes, this can be true. Following the diagnosis of the LD, your child might be placed in a special education or integrated classroom with teachers trained to develop their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Be sure to talk to their teachers about IEP details and how you can help support their learning.
- Remember that they are more than their LD. This is one of the most important emotional support tips for parents. Just because your child has a learning disability does not mean they change as a person. While it is important to talk to your child about their LD, avoid language that makes it a defining characteristic.
- Remember to work with your partner. Parenting a child with any type of special needs can be a strain on a partnership. If you are raising your child with a partner or spouse, be sure that you are making a joint effort. Counseling may also be a great way to keep your relationship strong while parenting. In fact, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists found that 98% of couples who received marriage counseling were satisfied with the outcome. A counselor can give you strategies to make your parenting styles work in tandem.
- Limit screen time. While there are many educational videos and other online resources catered to specified learning, it is still important for your child to develop their mind through active play. Research has also pointed to the damaging neurological effects of excessive screen time. Spending the majority of time away from the screen will boost creativity, sensory skills, and socialization. So, while 70% of Americans use the Internet on a daily basis, this does not have to include your child.
- Keep their experiences inclusive. You may also be worried that your child will be bullied or left out of activities. As a parent, you can do your best to prevent this by making all of their experiences inclusive. This includes activities like school field trips, sports leagues, and summer camp. Just because your child may have more challenges than other children does not mean they can’t participate in the same activities. It just means that they may need additional support to get involved.
With the right support and resources, your child can thrive with their learning disability and learn to celebrate their differences. As a parent, do not hesitate to reach out to all available networks. Family, friends, educators, and therapists are just some of the individuals who can help your child succeed both academically and otherwise.
Rachel Ehmke writes on the Child Mind Institute website that aiming at and celebrating small victories can make all the difference, creating the momentum your child needs.
“It is important to set kids up for success — not failure — as much as possible,” she writes. “Teachers, therapists, and parents should consciously set modest, achievable goals that children can work towards meeting. When a child sees proof that she is making progress she will be more motivated to continue putting forth that extra effort.”