It is never easy for parents to learn of their children’s learning disabilities. The news of their child being diagnosed with any kind of a learning related disorder can shatter the most spirited of parents and understandably so. As soon as one hears of something like this, the first reaction usually is – will my child be able to cope in school? While that line of thought is only the most natural progression, parents need to take a deep breath, calm their frayed nerves, and tell themselves – academic success is only a means to the goal, not the goal itself.
Every parent wants his child to lead a happy, satisfying, and enriching life. And a life like that can be had with or without academic success. Learning disorders are not insurmountable. Support, patience, understanding, encouragement, and companionship will go a long way to help children afflicted with learning disorders lead a fulfilling life.
What are Learning Disorders?
‘Learning Disorders’ is a wide-spectrum term used to indicate a range of learning related problems that afflict kids in the developmental stages. Contrary to popular belief, a learning disability is not an indicator of a child’s diminished intelligence. A child with any kind of learning disability is not ‘dumb’ or ‘lazy.’ Studies reveal that kids with learning disorders often display very high IQ levels and thus, negate the theory. Kids with the disability happen to see, hear, and perceive things in a way that is a deviation from the regular and this affects how they receive as well as process information.
It isn’t unlikely for children to struggle with homework every once in a while. Some even complain of difficulty to go out and play. That in itself should not be a cause of concern. But if a particular area is consistently problematic, it is a good idea to take your child to a specialist for diagnosis.
A Few Common Signs and Symptoms
Signs in Preschoolers:
- Trouble pronouncing words
- Trouble handling pencils and crayons and coloring within lines
- Struggle with buttons, zippers
Signs in Kids Up to 10 Years:
Using different spellings for the same word in the same document
Confusing similar words and other reading errors
Difficulty learning sequences
Difficulty in telling time
Trouble following instruction
A Few Common Types of Learning Disorders
Dyslexia – Difficulty with letter recognition, reading fluency, vocabulary skills, etc.
Dysgraphia – Difficulty with handwriting, copying accurately, spelling consistency, writing coherently, etc.
Dyscalculia – Difficulty memorizing and using operation signs, skip counting, etc.
Dysphasia – Difficulty understanding spoken language, etc.
Dyspraxia – Difficulty with balance, hand-eye-coordination, manual dexterity, etc.
Dealing with Learning Disorders
As the parent, prepare yourself for the struggle ahead. Tests, bureaucracy and paperwork – they all lie ahead of you. Don’t let them faze you. Child rearing isn’t easy and you would have faced problems even with a child without learning disorders. Life is not about the obstacles; it is about how you tackle them!
Educate yourself about your child’s condition. Be up-to-date. Lap up everything that you can find on the ailment and build yourself up to be an expert on it. Find the necessary tools (such as games for kids available online that employ alternative methods of teaching). This way, you would not have to depend on the specialist or therapist at all times. You will be better prepared to deal with problems and difficulties as they arise.
Keep abreast of new technology and make friends with science, even if it has never been your area of expertise. There have been reports of online free games for kids being useful in dealing with a number of different learning disorders. Find out the ones that best suit the needs of your kid. Read all about the great strides made by science in understanding the functioning of the brain.
Don’t try to ‘cure’ your child. Back your child with unrelenting emotional support and empower him to find the confidence within to lead a life as regular and as fulfilling as possible.
While it is important to be consistent with the love, support and care, make sure not to overdo it. Though learning disorders pose problems other than the obvious, they are not debilitating. Never talk down to them and stifle them with well-meaning but out of place affection.