What does it mean to find your strength? How can someone “unlock” potential? Is there a finite source of these two things waiting to be discovered or utilized? Perhaps things are more fluid than that. Perhaps strength and potential aren’t static, but rather, change as people grow and develop. For those who struggle with learning disabilities, the answer may be even more elusive. This article will discuss some practical ways students who learn differently can tap into their potential.
Your Own Source of Strength
One person’s strength can come from a very different place than another’s, so comparing yourself against another is a losing prospect. Children often feel they have to be strong in the ways that their “heroes” show strength. A hero can be a parent, pop idol, athlete, etc. However, as we know, this isn’t generally realistic or healthy behavior. This holds true for students with learning disabilities as well.
Children with learning disabilities often feel even further from the stereotypical sources of strength that have been ingrained in our society. Those with learning differences should, instead, think about what makes them unique… what they excel at. These areas can become strength-centers for students as they grow and develop.
Finding an area of strength is one thing… truly leveraging that potential, unlocking it, requires going a step beyond.
Unlocking Hidden Potential
As we mentioned before, we have a direct influence on how strong we can become, how much potential we can unlock. While we may have some potential innately, that generally doesn’t suffice if we want to realize the extent of it.
Those with learning disabilities should dispense with the notion that there is only a finite amount of progress they can make or potential they can unlock. Once a strength, or better yet, a set of strengths has been identified, it is time to really buckle down and commit to furthering and developing those strengths – that is what it means to unlock potential.
This is the tough stuff… the stuff that is painful for anyone. You often hear that learning comes out of discomfort – this is especially true for those who live with learning disabilities. Perhaps these students need to work 5x harder than a “traditional” student to achieve the same results. So be it. The alternative is less attractive.
Getting it Done
For certain, these questions are formidable for anyone – young or old, learning dis-abled or not. They are not things that are solved in one day or one blog post. But there are some practical first steps that parents and students can take as they think more purposefully about finding strength and transforming potential.
- Connect with a Professional – Whether this is a psychologist, an academic advisor, college counselor, or all three, getting the buy-in and support of someone who has a firm and realistic grasp of your child’s capabilities will be a valuable part of the process.
- Hit Reset – It is easy to get consumed, side-tracked, and overwhelmed, particularly as students move from one education level to another, be it rising into high school or graduating on to college. Taking time to give serious though to what fuels your child’s ambitions and interests will help set a realistic stage for what they pursue next and will help inform where their strengths can be developed in relation to their passions.
- Be Honest – People, not just young students with learning disabilities, need to be honest with themselves about their capacities, where they shine, and how they operate. Trying to fit a mold that isn’t made for you is never going to create the best results. No one wants to diminish the dreams of their children, but some things are simply out of reach for certain people – this is okay! Instead, we should be focusing intently on the realm of possibility and how to leverage and grow the strengths we have in addition to new skills we’d like to develop.