Setting Your Child Up For Success (Despite a Learning Disability)

 All parents want their children to grow up with a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. 

That’s why if your child is diagnosed with a learning disability, you need to take the steps to educate yourself and learn how to set your child up for success.

Learning disabilities are relatively common. With the right approach, patience, and adaptability, it’s entirely possible that your child can face the extra hurdles and succeed in school, at work, and in life, despite a learning disability!

Remember, each person has certain obstacles in their life that present unique challenges. Some people are born with a physical disability, while others are born into poverty. A learning disability makes learning conventionally more challenging, but it certainly isn’t something to be defined by. 

This brings us to our first tip. 

A Person is Not Their Diagnosis

You need to help your child see that their learning disability doesn’t define them. Your child isn’t a diagnosis, they are a person with a diagnosis. They may learn differently than their peers, require more time for certain tasks, or have to approach problem-solving a little bit differently, but they certainly aren’t powerless.

This is a crucial fact that you must instill in your child. Though certain things may be more challenging for them, they must recognize that there is a path forward and they can adapt to their specific circumstances.

One of the best things you can do for your child early on is to help them see that they can find ways to solve problems. They can be creative, accomplish assignments and tasks, and succeed.

This not only helps your child overcome the challenges of their learning disability but also helps them build self-confidence and self-esteem despite it.

Help Your Child Develop a Life Sucess Mindset

Certain activities at school might be more challenging for your child than for their peers, but this doesn’t preclude them from achieving life success, let alone academic success. There are several ways you can help foster a life success mindset in your child.

Self-Awareness and Self-Confidence Are Key

Teach them about their strengths and their limitations so that they can proactively deal with their learning disability. A child who is self-aware about their disability will know they need extra time to read, for example. When they are aware of their own strengths and limitations, they are better prepared to face challenges with confidence and self-esteem.

Help Them Chase Their Passions

Finding activities and hobbies that children are passionate about can help counteract any negative feelings associated with having a learning disability. By allocating resources to activities your child enjoys and feels good partaking in, you are helping them build self-confidence and pride in the work they do.

Teach Your Child Perseverance

Did you know that one of the most influential scientists of the past couple of centuries had a learning disability? Albert Einstein, who revolutionized our understanding of physics, had dyslexia. His learning disability gave him a unique perspective that in part led him to the theory of special relativity in 1905 and general relativity in 1915.

Despite doing poorly in grade school, Albert Einstein didn’t let his learning disability get in the way of his love of math and science. Instead, he focused on his strengths and accommodated his limitations. In essence, he persevered.

There are many stories similar to Einstein’s. A learning disability doesn’t stop people from achieving success. Stopping stops people from doing so. 

The Education System is Far From Perfect

Though great strides have been made in getting children the learning and emotional support they need in public schools, the system is far from perfect. As a parent, you can’t assume that the school “has all things covered.”

There are hundreds of reasons why your child might slip through the cracks at school—from negligent teachers to a lack of funding and resources. To counteract this, you should be a loud and active advocate for your child at their school. 

Why was there no learning support aid for your child during math? Why did your child not receive special accommodations in accordance with their IEP during their science test? It’s your right as a parent to make sure your child is getting fair and balanced access to education in accordance with their needs.

You Might Not Receive Full Benefits Unless You Ask

If a child has a documented need for extra help, such as in the case of a learning disability, the school must legally prepare an IEP. However, these aren’t necessarily designed to maximize your child’s potential, and, more often than not, they are designed to help your child scrape by.

Be a vocal advocate for your child’s educational rights. Educate yourself on the potential benefits and extra support your child may be entitled to. And don’t be afraid to (respectfully) push for more aid and more support if you feel it is warranted.

Some additional tips for talking with your child’s support team:

Be Clear and Consistent With Your Goals For Your Child

Distill your hopes for your child’s education down into clear, measurable, and consistent goals. Don’t simply say you want them to be better at reading. Speak the teachers’ language—aim for measurable standards. Reading what by when?

Give the Administrators, Teachers, and Counselors Space To Voice Opinions

If you want your opinion and perspective respected, you must also give space for your child’s support team to give you their opinions and perspectives. It’s possible that you both fail to see each other's point of view because enough time hasn’t been spent listening. 

Research How Other Schools Handle Similar Situations

Be ready to offer alternatives. Your “outsider” perspective on the special education system might help educators and counselors see your child’s situation in a new light. One school’s special education team might not have the perspective of another school’s, so respectfully sharing your research with your child’s support team might help provide new insights into the situation.

Be Respectfully Persistent

If you get the feeling that your child isn’t receiving the attention or care they are entitled to, let the support team know this. They might tell you one thing about your child’s education, but you might read it entirely differently.

The Takeaway

Learning disabilities are proof that humans are very diverse and have an impressive ability to adapt to adversity. As a parent, you should take steps to foster your child’s strengths and help them understand, accept and accommodate their limitations. 

Learning disability or not, your child deserves an equitable shot at a happy and successful life. 

Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, mother, and avid beachgoer living unapologetically in recovery. She writes for Maryville Treatment Centers, which offers resources for families touched by addiction and medication-assisted treatment in New Jersey.

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