June 1, 2020
By the time a child with learning disabilities is in middle school, she should be preparing for what’s ahead.
The first step in that process is developing the self-advocacy skills necessary to navigate in high school and beyond. In order to develop these critical skills, children with LD need to have accepted their learning differences and reached a certain level of maturity.
Working on your child’s self-advocacy skills while in middle school will help prepare her to navigate high school and beyond. www.smartkidswithld.org
Self-acceptance and self-knowledge begin at home. It is important that you accept and discuss openly with your child her difficulties.
When your child complains about having to work extra hard at something (“It’s not fair!”), remind her that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that we all need to work harder at the things that are difficult for us, while we can help others with things that we’re better at. Point out concrete examples from her experience—a teacher who helps with reading depends on another teacher to help with math; you can fix the car, while your spouse is a whiz at computers.
Once kids have accepted working harder to address their own difficulties, you can begin a broader conversation about different learning styles. From there the discussion should flow easily to the importance of making sure that she understands what works best for her and knows how to go after it.
Getting started is sometimes the most difficult part. Your attitude will help determine her attitude. By approaching the situation openly, honestly, and positively, you’ll convey the message that together you can—and will—handle whatever comes her way.
If, on the other hand, you pretend her disabilities don’t exist, she’s left to deal with them on her own: She can’t ignore them, but when you do, it suggests there’s something shameful or wrong with her.
Take Action: Advice From Other Parents
- Give her understanding, support and let her know that you know she can learn; she doesn’t need your pity, fear, anger, or overindulgence.
- Remind her what’s “right” about her. Show her you care about all of her, not just her performance in school.
- Assuage her fear of the evaluation process. “Everyone learns in different ways. We need to find out more about what works best for you so you can be as successful in reading (math, writing, etc.) as you are in baseball (piano, spelling, etc.).”
- Point out that although she has specific difficulties that make some schoolwork more difficult for her, there is nothing wrong with her intelligence. You can’t say that enough: learning disabilities have nothing to do with IQ.
- Reinforce that a lot of people who have trouble learning to read and write are very good at other important things, such as thinking, reasoning, and comprehending that are critical to doing well in school later—to say nothing of life after school.