More than anything else, teens want to be “normal.” Why else would they wear the same style of clothes, use the same slang, go to the same movies, and listen to the same music? In all likelihood, your teen doesn't want to be classified as “ learning disabled.” She just wants to fit in and be accepted.
When you discuss a diagnosis with your teen, you may find that her first response is actually relief—now she knows why a particular skill or subject was giving her trouble!
That said, it's still difficult to be told that you're different—especially for teens. Here are some ways you can help your teen cope with her diagnosis:
- Some families put their teens in individual therapy for a brief time once they are diagnosed, partly to provide emotional support for this “different-ness.” A good therapist will help a teen focus on her strengths and weaknesses in a way that lets her accept what she'll be coping with in the coming years. Your child's school psychologist may be willing to meet with your student for a few sessions, or she may refer you to an outside source that is affordable.
- In addition, some schools run support groups for kids coping with learning disabilities, and this type of support can be very beneficial for teens. If your school does not provide this type of ongoing support, ask for a referral to a place that does.
You, too, may be feeling overwhelmed by this news. When you find a support group for your teen, ask if there are resources for parents. Or you may find a special PTA committee dedicated to working for additional services for learning disabled students in your school district. Any group you find will link you with parents who may provide a helpful grapevine for information.
In addition, refer to the Resource Directory for national organizations specializing in learning disabilities. Through these organizations, you will be able to get some literature on the topic; you may also get a referral to local resources in your area. There are also seminars for parents on a wide variety of disabilities, so once you're on the right mailing lists, you'll find yourself surrounded by helpful people and comforting information.