Learning Disorders

As a parent, receiving the diagnosis of a learning disorder for your child can be an anxious moment for you. It’s natural to feel concerned, anxious, and even downright worrisome about what the future holds for your child. You begin to wonder whether your kid will grow up as other normal kids and achieve their goals.

You find yourself pondering whether they will be able to pursue higher education, work a normal job, or even cope and overcome challenges that life might throw at them every once in a while.

The reality of the matter is that learning disorders are not a one-time occurrence. They persist throughout a person’s life. These neurodevelopmental conditions typically manifest during early schooling years, often presenting consistent hurdles, such as dyslexia (difficulty with reading), dysgraphia (writing challenges), dyscalculia (math difficulties) or ADHD (attention and concentration déficit, impulsivity or hyperactivity)​​.

That said, while learning disorders may persist throughout a person’s life, children with these disorders can indeed thrive with the right support from parents as well as appropriate strategies. Over time, such children learn to look beyond their disorders and leverage their strengths to navigate their learning differences.

Angela Dewey, PhD, a neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute’s Learning and Development Center, emphasizes that individuals with learning disorders can lead normal lives like their peers. They can pursue higher education and attain the highest level of success in their careers.

By comprehending their unique learning profiles, recognizing their challenges, and harnessing their strengths, individuals with learning disorders can tailor their experiences towards areas of proficiency and interest.

Most importantly, parents need to understand that having a learning disorder doesn’t in any way diminish a child’s intelligence. On the contrary, it’s an indication that their brain processes information differently. Not only that, but estimates indicate that up to 15% of American school-age children suffer from a learning disability, indicating that these disorders are more frequent than is often thought.

It is important to reassure children with learning impairments that they can succeed academically and psychologically, even though they might need to use different learning strategies and face obstacles in the classroom. Giving them the critical support they need is vital to their development, both now and as they get older.

Evolution Through Time

It is imperative to note that as your child grows, their challenges undergo changes or evolve. These changes are influenced by the specific nature and severity of their disorder. Maintaining open lines of communication with your child can aid them in anticipating how their learning disorder may manifest differently over time.

As academic demands escalate in higher grades, certain challenges associated with learning disorders may intensify.

For instance, dyslexic kids frequently have increased challenges in the third grade, when demands for reading and writing fluency rise.

Similarly, students with auditory processing disorder may face greater hurdles in middle and high school due to increased academic demands and the need for greater independence. Meanwhile, those with non-verbal learning disorder may struggle with deciphering nuanced social cues as they and their peers mature. Generally, teenagers with learning disorders may find tasks like note-taking, completing substantial assignments, and exam preparation challenging, particularly as they navigate college and career planning.

On the brighter side, some things may become easier to handle as kids get a better comprehension of their circumstances and useful coping techniques.

Students can pick up the use of speech-to-text software, visual aids, and techniques for segmenting tasks into more manageable chunks. Students with learning disabilities frequently request accommodations in college, including more time for exams, help taking notes, priority class enrollment, and individualized support.

Dr. Dewey emphasizes that with support, children can navigate their learning challenges effectively, still pursuing rigorous education and careers by utilizing these modifications to overcome barriers.

It’s crucial to recognize that individuals with learning disorders are entitled to accommodations and support services in both educational and professional settings. Early empowerment regarding their strengths, weaknesses, and rights can equip children to advocate for themselves confidently in college and beyond.

Learning Disorders

Initiating interventions at an early stage yields significant benefits

As your kid gets older, early detection and treatment of learning disorders can support their academic achievement and mental health. Though the precise tools will depend on the nature and degree of the disease, professionals may teach your child how to strengthen abilities in areas where they struggle and learn to rely on their strengths.

According to Rachel Ganz, PhD, a neuropsychologist in the Learning and Development Center at the Child Mind Institute, “the earlier we can understand what’s going on for a student and the earlier they get support, it just becomes part of their curriculum, or part of their day-to-day support that they’re receiving.” “We want to preserve the will to learn.”

For example, dyslexic children may benefit from rigorous remedial reading programs in elementary school to assist them develop their academic skills and reading fluency as they get older. Encouraging children to write out the procedures needed to solve math problems could help students with math-related disorders who may learn better verbally.

According to Dr. Dewey, “Students can acquire skills and improve in academics or behavior regulation, whatever is challenging for them.” “When intervention occurs early, the trajectory is often positive.”

According to Dr. Ganz, the ultimate objective of early intervention is to provide students with academic tools that would enable them to more easily control their learning impairment as they become older. Then, those same abilities can help with success in both daily life and the workplace.

Assisting your child with their academic and emotional needs

Children with learning disabilities may experience a decline in their self-esteem, particularly if their condition is misdiagnosed for a number of years.

Encouraging your child to keep up with their peers can make them feel frustrated and cause them to act out in class or retreat from social situations. This emphasizes the importance of providing strong emotional support at home.

When your child is younger, try having a conversation with them about their condition to help them come to terms with the fact that they may not look like some of their peers. Make sure your child has access to the proper learning programs and testing accommodations by staying in contact with school personnel. Never be reluctant to ask for help from mental health specialists, support groups, or educational activists.

Additionally, you can assist your child in practicing self-advocacy when they reach a certain age, since this is a skill that will come in handy in the future in both professional and academic contexts.

At home, however, make an effort to make sure your child feels at ease asking for assistance with their homework and give them credit for their effort rather than how well they performed on a test or project. Early education that teaches kids that their value is independent of their grades might help them develop self-worth and boost their confidence while facing obstacles in the future.

Dr. Ganz states, “It’s important to help children understand that they have so many strengths, even though we’re helping them understand their weaknesses and learn language to advocate for themselves.”