Supporting Parents. Fostering Change.

Mom, What is a Learning Disability?

Even though your child realizes it’s harder for him to concentrate and focus in school than his classmates, or is aware that she has more trouble reading than her older brother, being diagnosed as learning disabled is still hard news to swallow.

As a parent, being told that your child is LD elicits a lot of strong feelings. Remember, it does for your child too. As your family starts to navigate the world of LD, it’s really important to tune in and listen to their fears and worries.

Kids believe that being learning disabled means they’re deficient or defective in some way, or that they’re dumb. They’re anxious that being learning challenged means they’ll never catch up in class, they’ll always have to work ten times harder at school than their friends or that everyone will know they’re LD when they’re pulled out of class for tutoring.

Rest assured that there are many who have traveled down this path before you and there are lots of resources and guidance available. Helping you help your child express their feelings in a constructive way is the priority. Here are several suggestions on how to start that process:

  • First and foremost make certain she knows you accept and love her as she is
  • It’s not his (or your) job to “cure” his learning disability. Assure him that you, his teachers and practitioners will be there to support him and provide tools to understand and tackle his challenges
  • Let her know that it’s okay to progress at her own rate. Everyone learns differently and there is no “right” or “wrong” way
  • Help him keep things in perspective. Explain that everyone faces difficulties and, in the process of dealing with them, learn a lot about themselves. (Let him know about the ways you’ve done that in your life.)
  • Assure her that grades aren’t the only (or best) way to measure learning and if’s okay for her to progress at her own rate
  • He’s going to follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with a sense of humor, hard work, and are not afraid to seek help, he’s much more likely to do the same

A kids’ success is defined by much more than getting all A’s in school, ace-ing the SAT’s, and attending a top college. Developing a positive sense of himself, learning how to build supportive and healthy relationships, being willing to persist when things are difficult, and being able to ask for help when he needs it are qualities that are just as important for growing up to be a happy human with a fulfilling life.

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