Let's face it: Having a learning disability can be discouraging sometimes. Children don't want to feel "different" from other kids. But on the up side, living with a learning disability shapes your child's personality and can make her a better, stronger person. Children with learning disabilities have to give it their all to be successful; they need their parents to be supportive and patient, and to advocate on their behalf when necessary. Here are the five most imporant things you can do:
1. Recognize, accept, and understand your child's LD.
Make sure that you understand the school's explanation of your child's learning differences. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get the information in layman's terms. Ask how that disability will affect your child at home and at school.
2. Find your child's strength.
It can be something very simple that you take for granted; for instance, your daughter is a good storyteller or a whiz at building things. Find and praise your child's talents: "You described that field trip so well!" Identify those talents and acknowledge them with specific praise.
When your child is discouraged by the things she can't do, say, "I know you have difficulty following directions sometimes, but you did a great job designing that poster for your book report."
3. Find ways to work with your child's disability.
If she speaks well but has difficulty writing, you could explore with her teacher alternative forms of assessment. Discuss with the teacher whether it would be possible for your child to do a project or presentation instead of an essay. Using a word processor, a tape recorder, or even a scribe can help LD students with their written assignments. Be prepared to work together with your child's teacher and encourage the teacher to try an alternate approach when appropriate.
4. Encourage unique special interests.
Whether it's collecting spiders, acting in local theater, or walking dogs, help your child to find interests and build on them.
5. Get outside help.
You can't always work with your own children, especially if there is tension or impatience. Don't feel guilty, just get the right help: a tutor (a teacher from another school, tutoring service, or learning center). You might want to try to find people with degrees in special education, because they have specialized training in how to deal with a variety of learning disabilities. Make sure the tutor has specific goals and objectives for your child, and monitor your child's progress.