Gifts for Kids with LD & ADHD

By Marcia Brown Rubinstien, MA, CEP

’Tis the season to be jolly, but for us at Smart Kids, it’s also a time we remember our colleague, Marcia Rubinstien, who passed away prematurely. Marcia was an educational consultant and tireless advocate for students with LD; she was also a prolific contributor to the Smart Kids newsletter. In memory of Marcia, we like to remind our readers during the holiday season of an article she wrote, which continues to be among the most widely read pieces in our archive.

 Let’s face it: for most kids gift-getting is the best part of the holidays, while for their parents, the joy of giving brings ultimate pleasure. There’s nothing more fun than watching your child’s face light up as she rips through glittery wrapping to find that special something she absolutely can’t live without—or at least since she saw it advertised last week.

But for those of you who want to augment this year’s must-have item with gifts that will keep on giving, I recommend you take a moment to reflect on ways you can help your child with learning disabilities or ADHD succeed in school and in life. Here are a few “gift” suggestions to get you started:

  1. Time: Don’t get so caught up doing for your child that you forfeit being with your child. Dedicate time to talking, playing, or just being goofy together.
  2. Advocacy: Make sure he understands and can explain his learning disability—including both his assets and deficits—to those he comes in contact with regularly in school and at extracurricular activities.
  3. Safety & Security: Ensure that your child feels protected and not threatened by school, teachers, peers, bullies, or things she can’t describe. 
  4. Respect: Don’t mollycoddle or treat him like a baby. Praise what he does well, and help him improve the rest. Listen to what he says and respect his insights.
  5. Relaxation: Recognize how hard she works every day to compensate for her learning differences. Make sure she has an outlet for R & R, whether it is intellectual, athletic, or both.
  6. Independence: Teach him how to perform the basic activities of daily living without you when he’s in a less supervised environment.
  7. Self-Esteem. While you’ re proud of everything she can do, she probably is focusing on what she can’t do. You can never give too much earned praise to children with learning differences.
  8. The Gift of Love: This goes without saying. That’s the problem—too often it does go without saying. Children with LD and ADHD often wonder how parents could love anyone with such obvious flaws. Tell them. Show them. Love them. You’ll be delighted when this gift is returned in full.

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