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How To Deal With Learning Disabilities

Updated on August 22, 2014

My Life with a Learning Disability (Video)

Born With a Learning Disability

As someone who was born with a learning disability, I spent four years in the special education system during elementary school. The assistance that I received through special education was essential, but there were also many challenges in connection with this as well.

If you are a parent of a child with a learning disability, or are an adult with a learning disability there is a number of things that can be done to successfully deal with having a learning disability.

What we are going to do now is consider four ways we can deal with learning disabilities.

Receive a Proper Assessment of the Learning Disability

The first step in dealing with a learning disability is making sure that it is properly assessed. This would of course vary by locality, but in many instances parents can arrange free screenings through the school system.

In my case back in kindergarten, it was observed that my development was slow in certain areas. Because of this, I was sent to a child developmental specialist who performed a series of developmental tests on me. I was then assessed with what is now commonly referred to as a nonverbal learning disability. This primarily affected my fine motor skills. Because my learning disability was also coupled with a speech impediment, it did take me a bit longer to learn how to read. I also have had my struggles with spelling & grammar (still do).

Being properly assessed allowed me to get the assistance needed.

Accept Available Assistance for those with Learning Disabilities

There are programs for both children and adults to assist those with learning disabilities.

For children assistance can be offered by the school system through special education programs. It does need to be acknowledge that the availability of these programs do vary according to locality.

When special education is available it can be helpful. The advantages to special education are that they generally involve smaller classrooms and in many cases it involves the use of a teacher's aide. This allows the student to receive more personalize attention and to move at their own pace.

Some parents refuse to accept available assistance because they do not want to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with their child. However, treating a child with a learning disability the same way as a child who does not is going to be detrimental.

Special Education Teacher

A special education teacher provides assistance to one of her students.
A special education teacher provides assistance to one of her students. | Source

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Parental Support is Key

For parents of children with learning disabilities your support is essential. This would include being hands on with the learning process. Even if special education is available, your child will need additional help.

If your child is in the special education system you need to regularly communicate with them. Even though special education may be necessary (it was in my case) it does open up the possibility of ridicule. Your child may have to endure cracks about riding on the "short bus" or have to endure being called a "retard" or other derogatory names. Because I was always bigger and taller than the average child my age, physical bullying was never a big issue. Nevertheless, I did still have to deal with the verbal ridicule.

You may need to ask if your child has been dealing with any issues at school. With my mom when she asked how my day at school went, she would not accept "fine" as an answer. She would force me to open up about school, either good or bad. This of course helped to identify any potential issues within the school system. However, as a naturally private person, it also encouraged me to open up and it helped me with my social skills.

Mother and Child

Every child needs the support of loving parents. That is definitely the case with children with learning disabilities.
Every child needs the support of loving parents. That is definitely the case with children with learning disabilities. | Source

Focus On What You Excel At

One of the consequences of having a learning disability is the potential for low self-esteem. With myself, I overcame many of the effects of my learning disability back when I was a child. When people look at me, there is no visible evidence that I have a learning disability. That being said from time to time I still struggle to grasp concepts or to do things that seem to come easy to others. This can be discouraging. Therefore, it is important that I take time to reflect on areas where I do well.

Everyone has their own gifts and have things that they excel at. In the case of those with learning disabilities, they quite often compensate for their limitations by being exceptional in other areas. It could be that they have an aptitude for music and the arts, or possess some other gifts. For example, famous chef Jamie Oliver & famous designer Tommy Hilfiger is both dyslexic. This did not prevent them from discovering their culinary ability and eye for design.

There is a tendency to put a stigma on the word disability. However, having a learning disability does not have to be a major hindrance. Even individuals who do not have a learning disability have strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, we do our best to work hard to overcome our weaknesses. As humans we have an amazing ability to adapt. Therefore, we find ways for our strengths to compensate for our weaknesses.

Jamie Oliver

Famous chef Jamie Oliver has dyslexia. He also didn't read his first novel until the age of 38. But his limitations didn't prevent him from excelling in other areas.
Famous chef Jamie Oliver has dyslexia. He also didn't read his first novel until the age of 38. But his limitations didn't prevent him from excelling in other areas. | Source

Four Ways To Deal With Learning Disabilities

We just finished discussing four ways to deal with learning disabilities:

  1. Receive a proper assessment
  2. Accept available assistance
  3. Parental support
  4. Focus on what you excel at

These four points can help those with learning disabilities to live productive and successful lives.

© 2014 Chris Baker

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      Margin 2 years ago

      I had no idea these numbers were so high :(. I've been seieng a lot of commercials lately about depression and mental health awareness. Just this morning I watched an open panel discussion on suicide. People are talking more now than ever I think. I just hope the talking doesn't stop.

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