Coming to Grips with LD

By Carolyn White


For many parents a diagnosis of learning disabilities comes as a shock • This parent found the best way to deal with it is to dig in, learn everything possible, and become the advocate her son deserves

This beautiful smiling face looked up at me when I asked him what color the grass was and responded, “Red?” My 4-year-old could not identify his colors, shapes, and had no names for letters. His teachers said it was developmental; he was a boy. My heart knew otherwise.

I pursued independent testing despite the constant objections from many professionals. “He’s too young for testing.” “He’ll grow out of it.” “He’s a boy.”

I persevered. I knew. I just didn’t know what I knew.

After a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation (I couldn’t even spell that at the time, let alone tell you what it was or how to interpret it!), the results unequivocally pointed to a learning disability.

Not what I was expecting at all. My head was spinning. What does that mean? How do I fix it?

Taking Charge

It means you read everything you can find about learning disabilities. You attend every lecture available regarding decoding, language processing, executive function skills, etc, etc, etc. My master’s degree was not this research-intensive!

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities pointed me in the right direction at a time when I was trying to navigate Mars with a trail of popcorn. Eventually, I did read everything I could find on learning disabilities and attended programs offered on related topics.

I am no expert, but I understand a whole lot more now than I did nine years ago. And because of that understanding, Danny is thriving.

Important Lessons

The most valuable information I learned over the years is that a learning disability does not get “fixed.” It is a lifelong struggle. I not only have to ensure that my child is taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, but I have to make sure he knows the importance of persevering; that failure does not reflect who he is—it is merely an obstacle in the road that he has to get around—and that he can accomplish great things.

Danny is now in high school, excelling in academics and in extracurricular activities. He has to work hard for his achievements, and there have been several bumps in the road. But he approaches those bumps with determination to get over them. He does this with confidence in his abilities. Now when I ask him what color the grass is, he looks down on me (as he is now 6 inches taller than me) and tells me the grass is green because…

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