Learning Disabled Children: Strategies for Parents

“All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” — Walt Disney

Easter Seals provides exceptional services so people with disabilities and their families can fully participate in their communities
Easter Seals provides exceptional services so people with disabilities and their families can fully participate in their communities | Source

Coping With A Diagnoses Of A Learning Disability

Have you noticed your child having more difficulty learning to read than older siblings?

  • Does your child seem to lag behind his classmates in reading and math skills?
  • Has your child just been diagnosed with a learning disability through a school psychological assessment?

Immediately you worry about many issues.

  • Will my child be able to cope with the rigors of school work especially as the more challenging grades are reached?
  • Will my child become frustrated when the realization dawns that he/she is falling behind peers?
  • Will my child feel 'stupid' compared to peers and give up trying?

All of these are valid concerns but they are not the most important considerations for the learning challenged child. Creating a situation whereby your child feels a strong sense of self-worth and happiness are paramount in developing a situation where your child can achieve their level of academic success. Developing a strong sense of self-confidence is the strongest correlation towards achieving life-long success.

Encouraging A Positive Attitude in Your Child With A Learning Disability

Provide A Strong, Confident Role Model For Your Learning Challenged Child

All of your chlldren need love, support and encouragement and at times your advocacy but a child with a diagnosed learning disability needs this unconditional support even more so.

  • The differences in the way your child's brain functions optimally is most often not addressed well in a traditional school setting without accommodations being utilized.
  • Learning disabilities cannot be cured.

Your child's brain has learning differences which must be addressed and as a parent you must find ways, hopefully with the school's support, to develop strategies for success.

  • Social and emotional tools must be developed to allow your child to persevere through challenging academic and often social hurdles faced daily in the classroom.
  • Providing a safe home environment, where you as the parent model a positive attitude and provide consistent support in developing coping strategies will go a long way in giving your child the hope and confidence that he or she will improve and succeed.

Survival Tools For The Learning Disabled Child

Tips For Dealing With Your Child's Learning Disability

1. Do not fear your child's diagnoses of a learning disability.

  • Remain calm and focused.
  • By providing a positive influence, advocating for your child and providing emotional and moral support you are providing a positive role-model for your child giving them the hope that they too can overcome the obstacles they face at school.

2. Become an expert on your child's particular diagnoses.

  • They are many kinds of learning disabilities.
  • Research your child's particular diagnoses.
  • If you are able, speak with the psychologist who conducted your child's testing.
  • My son was diagnosed at age 12 with slow visual processing. I asked his psychologist as many questions I could think of:
  • What causes slow visual processing?
  • What does that mean with regard to acquisition of language skills? Math skills?
  • What strategies can he use to compensate in the classroom?
  • Are there social implications to his diagnoses?
  • How can he succeed in the classroom?
  • Many others came to mind and as I thought of them, I wrote them down.

3. If your community has a local Learning Disability Association approach them and see what services they offer.

  • Our local office, the LDAP, provides tutoring services focused on reading and math and training with assistive technology that can be used at school and at home to improve success in the classroom.
  • My son learned basic typing skills, the use of computer programs such as Inspiration for mind mapping, Kurzweil which allows text to be read and manipulated on the computer and Word Cue which is an amazing predictive spelling tool which has greatly improved my son's ability to spell.
  • Even in Grade 12, he uses the help of a tutor for help in his most challenging subject - English.

4. Remember, your attitude is key to your child's success.

  • If you approach your child's learning challenges with humor, persistence and hard work your child will see you as a role model and follow suit.
  • Focus your energy on finding what strategies work best for your child.
  • Each child is unique. Your child's teacher and special education teacher can give suggestions but only you and your child will discover together what strategies work best.

5. Keep communication with your child's school and teacher a regular part of your intervention.

  • You need to be your child's advocate especially in the elementary grades.
  • Participate in the development of your child's IEP (individual education plan) especially the specific accommodations it will contain. For example, in my son's IEP are provisions for preferred seating in the classroom, an FM system, extra time on tests. no penalty for spelling mistakes unless assistive technology is available and novels presented in audio format.
  • You will need to navigate regular placement meetings which discuss the best modifications or accommodations your child should receive.
  • Each school and board is different in how they handle integration of exceptional students.
  • You will have to learn diplomatic and superior communication and negotiation skills when advocating for your child.

6. Remember that every school has limitations in how it can accommodate the exceptional learners in any classroom.

  • Seek out tutoring services to help your child discover learning strategies. Local learning disability organizations often have tutoring services available for minimal cost.
  • Local learning centers such as The Tutoring Center can provide programs which provide coping and learning skills for the learning disabled child.
  • Read all you can about learning skills and the accommodations that might be best for your child's particular diagnoses. The article, Helping Children with Learning Disabilities has a wonderful chart listing studying tips for visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners.

7. Finally, focus on long-term life success.

  • Academic success in the classroom, although important, is only one piece of the puzzle for life long success in social interactions and in gaining and maintaining employment.
  • Creating a happy, self-confident individual who is a strong self-advocate is paramount for developing a self-sufficient member of society and these are often hard earned skills for the learning disabled child.
  • Providing an accepting, loving home as well as a positive, hard-working role model is imperative in developing the same skill set in your child with a learning disability.

Success Is Possible For The Child With Learning Challenges

Success Is Attainable For The Learning Disabled Child

My son is proof-positive that the above tips can work.

  • Connor is in Grade 12 and now applying to Universities in a science-related field.
  • He has spoken many times to kids with learning disabilities who are preparing to enter high school.
  • He provides them with insight and coping strategies which will make the transition easier.

Seeing someone such as themselves who is well spoken and down to earth gives them hope that they too can be successful in school and in life. Connor helped me compile a list of coping strategies for the high school student. They have provided him with a means of being both successful and happy.

Have faith and have hope. Your child can become successful despite learning challenges.

Connor taking a quick break from homework!
Connor taking a quick break from homework! | Source

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Comments 6 comments

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Teresa - Self worth and happiness are the key contributors to a childs success. If they believe in themselves, the possibilities are endless. My cousin is a functioning happy adult today because of the earnest assistance and faith my Aunt instilled in her as a child and a young adult.

This hub will help so many parents in this situation and I am voting it up and sharing.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 3 years ago from USA

Thanks for these real-world tips, Teresa! Negotiating the educational system to advocate for your child is tough. These tips will help make the process a little easier for parents and caregivers.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

shiningirisheyes, it takes so much effort to help these kids in all aspects of their disability. I willingly gave up years of full time teaching so I could be there for my son. It is so very worth it to see him now applying for university! I would gladly do it again in a minute. He is such a happy, self-assured young man. I am so glad your cousin received the same, loving support!


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Donna, many aspects of working with a child with learning difficulties or differences can be hard and frustrating at times. It can be hard to maintain perspective but perseverance on both the part of the parents and the child really do pay off in the end. Thanks for the positive feedback!


Rachel Horon profile image

Rachel Horon 3 years ago from Indiana

Excellent Hub, Teresa. My 10-year son is receiving for his learning disability. Even though I was a regular ed teacher, working with him to give him the support he needed was something I didn't expect when he was born. Your words were very encouraging as his work gets more challenging and he considers his future. My favorite line was "only you and your child will discover together what strategies work best." It is so true.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Rachel, your continued support is so essential to your son's success. My son has faced numerous challenges over the years but his hard work has paid off. He just received his first acceptance to University. The struggle can be hard at times but the payoffs are huge!

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