My Child Was Diagnosed with a Learning Disability—Now What?
No parent is thrilled to hear that their child has a learning disability. At first blush this means a few things: my child will struggle more than others…my child will always be behind…my child is in for a difficult life.While these initial “gut reactions” aren’t true, they are also not unfounded—in many ways life is different for people, especially children and adolescents, with learning disabilities. However, this doesn’t mean that life is worse.
The First Steps
So, your child has officially been diagnosed with dyslexia or ADD; perhaps even both. This can feel like the end of the world, particularly for parents who aren’t well acquainted with learning disabilities or differences.
The first step in processing all of this new information is to understand that there are many options for your child. These options range from after school programs to boarding schools dedicated to students with learning disabilities. Not every child will require the same level of attention or structure, and certain schools may be better for some students than others.
The second thing to remember is that learning disabilities are no longer taboo or mysterious. In fact, there are more institutions and programs dedicated to serving people with learning disabilities now than ever.
Talking with Your Child
Perhaps the most important thing to remember receiving an LD diagnosis is that the news will likely affect your child as profoundly, if not more so, than it will affect you. For this reason, it’s important to find the right time and approach to speaking with your child.
Many companies and institutions that provide the testing and diagnosis of learning disabilities also provide guidance on communicating this type of news to the children receiving the diagnosis.
The important thing to remember when speaking with your child about their diagnosis is to frame the news in a constructive, positive way. Consider this—your child will probably be, in some respect, relieved to have an explanation for their educational struggles over the years. Accentuating this, along with the promise of a future full of the right kind of support and education will help frame an LD diagnosis in a productive way.
After taking the appropriate amount of time to process the news with your child, it will eventually be time to take action and start making some choices. While there are an almost infinite number of possibilities these days for students with learning disabilities and differences, a few important questions to keep in mind are:
- Is my child receiving adequate support at school? If the current support system being provided is not cutting it (your child is experiencing stress, struggling in class, and generally unhappy at school), it may be the case that the standard support most children receive isn’t enough for them.
- Is my child currently getting any extra support at school? Is your child taking part in any after-school tutoring, receiving special help during class, or speaking to a counselor? If not, it would be worth exploring your current options.
- What are the options? Many schools offer a variety of different options, from on-premise tutoring to testing for potential learning disabilities. In addition to steps that can be taken at your child’s current school, day schools and even boarding schools for kids with learning disabilities exist all over the country. The important thing to consider is your child’s compatibility with their current or potential future school, if you are considering making a change.
- Speak with a guidance counselor or educational consultant. Speaking with either a counselor or educational consultant can be of massive service to parents dealing with new LD diagnoses. Many children who are placed in schools and boarding schools for learning disabilities find their best matches through consultants. Search in your area for available resources.