What Can I Do If My Child Has a Learning Disability?

What Can I Do If My Child Has a Learning Disability?

I want to talk about some simple things that parents of a child with a learning disability should understand. I think that it is important for a parent to embrace the concerns and needs of her child to be treated as normal a child as possible. After all, learning disabilities are only a portion of a child’s personhood. Parents need to embrace their child’s total personhood first and then the disability portion. Parents are the first persons to experience their child’s problems and support needs. Only after gaining insights from this experience are parents ready to consider techniques for dealing with their child’s learning disability. This is a very transactional situation. The parents most likely already discussed their child’s needs with other family members and professionals, providing the parents with a solid factual understanding of their child’s problems and needs. Building on this experience enables parents to begin to develop expectations about their role as a parent in the life of their child. This process should act as a preliminary road map for dealing with their child’s situation. What can parents of a learning disabled child do?  Here are some tips.

Parents Provide The Foundation For A Child With A Learning Disability To Learn

The starting point for any parent-child relationship is the acceptance by the parents that their learning disabled child is capable of learning but simply does so at a slower rate than other children and requires different teaching techniques. In most instances, if appropriate education and teaching techniques are used, such a child will learn. Most children with learning disabilities are eager to learn. Parents have a responsibility to support and encourage their child in this endeavor. This, quite frankly, is the most important type of support to be offered by the parent, because it will be what sustains their child through the difficult learning process.

Of course, support and love are only the beginning point. Beyond that, you must learn some basic teaching techniques and how to apply these techniques. One of the simplest technique to overcome learning disabilities is the use of “self talk.” Under this technique a child is encouraged or taught, to tell themselves out loud the steps that they are working through so that they can focus on the task or problem they are working to accomplish. Other skills such as observational skills, investigative skills and learning in general at the child’s pace can help the child to begin working on their learning curve. Learning and collecting evidence is an effective method of learning. It is also beneficial for parents to learn about different types of learning methods. Visual, hands-on, auditory and a combination of these are effective methods of learning and you will want to discover the types of learning methods that are easiest for you or your child to learn.

Using Home-Made Videos

Something I think can be very effective in helping your child to learn is to make short little home videos.  If you are at all creative (and everyone is) you can integrate your family’s personal imaging as part of your supporting role in your child’s learning process.  You can make silly or entertaining  videos or video’s illustrating learning themes.   Using a video making program, such as the one I have reviewed called Content Samurai, is an easy way to make the video.   Using a video maker like Content Samurai allows you to incorporate into the video images and videos from your own computer into a video your child can watch.  In my opinion this is a good way to reach out to your child who learns through visual stimulation.

Using Compliments to Help Children with Learning Disabilities

Complimenting children is often the best way to help them through the learning process. Complimenting a child with a learning disability is important because these children are often struggling more than other children. They often have low self-esteem because they don’t feel smart, normal or even liked in some cases. They are often isolated and labeled as different from other children and many do not understand why this is so. Additionally, these children can often be confused by the meaning of different activities.   To put it simply, they are confused and a simple compliment can help them through their day and through the process of learning something.

It is also important to realize that many conditions have overlapping symptoms so you should not focus on only one area when there may be other conditions interacting in the body and mind.   You never want to give up on a child that is struggling to learn. The best thing you can do for your child is to keep searching for answers yourself and helping them along.

Don’t Keep Your Child from Learning

The worst thing you can do as a parent of a child with a learning disability is not allow the child to learn. Learning disabilities are often linked to mental disorders, stress, anxiety, and other phobias. When children are diagnosed with learning disabilities they are often forbidden, or at a minimum, hindered, to learn up to their abilities. Many children will actually struggle silently throughout school and hide the fact that they are having difficulty learning. Many students are able to hide learning disabilities often by faking or simply not putting themselves in a situation where their lack of skill will be discovered. On the other hand, there are those children who will make it apparent and will ask for help. Other children show their inabilities by acting out with inappropriate behaviors.

Many children are held back in school because they do not perform up to the level they are expected to perform at before moving to the next grade level in school. This also causes frustration and pressure in these children. This causes them to feel as though they are failures and often results in them dropping out of school themselves. Other children are good enough at faking their abilities and working the system that they are able to continue moving forward through school. Instead of looking at their situation as negative they are able to persevere through school.

Learning disabilities are often a struggle for a learning disabled child to understand himself. Many people will take the word of experts as gold and will not search for the truth. Too many times a parent will sit and allow their child’s life to be governed by doctors and therapists instead of searching for answers themselves. Instead of searching for their own answers that could prove useful to their child, they tend to wait for someone to bring the answers to them.

Children actually crave to learn. They want to know and they want to learn as others do. They want to be encouraged to learn and they want to be helped. If you actively seek out ways to help your child, you will see improvement in their ability to learn, but you must work with them first. Learning new learning strategies will help your child.

Learning Strategies

Students that have learning disabilities often have difficulty with comprehension. This is because their decoding process is different than other supposedly normal children. Recently there have been several studies that show how computer-related tools are able to help children with learning disabilities. Amongst these tools are pictorial tutoring tools that are coupled with word learning systems. Some experts believe that these disabilities are due to the child wanting to learn the words too much. Other experts believe that there are mental ailments keeping the child from learning. The problem, however, tends to lie somewhere between the child being an individual and education. When a child does not grasp the meaning of words, it simply means the meaning is not clear to them. This is not always true in all learning disabilities, but it is in many. Another issue that seems to present itself is that some individuals have a lot of emotional scarring involved. These children allow their emotions to take control of their minds. This means that they have many stressors that are keeping them from learning. This results in their mind being in a state of constant chaos and this prevents them from being able to learn.

Observational learning skills are more likely to benefit those individuals who suffer from ADHD. This does not necessarily mean that these individuals do not have a learning disability, however. Studies have also proven that ADHDS patients often progress best when they are a part of an individual study program. Children with dyslexia also tend to learn better in this manner. It is important that a child with a learning disability be allowed to focus and be taught individually so that they can learn at their level of understanding. This helps the child to live with the disability as well.

Learning disabilities are often linked to cognitive, linguistics and language. When a person has difficulty in these areas, it’s often for a good reason. Unfortunately, it is rarely seen until the mind is forced to start learning outside its realm of understanding.

Many individuals will fall into a pattern of mimicking. They will begin to copy rules and guidelines that have been set by their role models. They will essentially lose contact with their individuality and personality and begin to do only what their role model does. For example, have you ever noticed how all controlling people in the movies all follow the same personality type? This is because people with a controlling personality learn this behavior from other controlling people. The person may be seen as having a learning disability, but really they are following a behavior. Unfortunately, those so-called “normal” individuals fail to recognize this behavior and change it before it grows to something that is out of control.

If a person has a learning disability, it does not necessarily mean that the person cannot learn. They may simply show slowness in a certain subject area, while they may learn quite quickly in another. In order to correct the issues caused by learning disabilities, you must understand that the person is an individual. Individuality is a person that is distinct both physically and mentally, especially in their personalities. Personalities vary from person to person and they are the brilliance of social and personal traits that a person encompasses. Personalities are established through the years by interactions with people. A personality is what sets each person apart from another. Personality tests have been developed to help therapists, counselors and physicians to determine the social and personal traits of the various personalities that there are. There are very few tests for individuality.

New research and curriculums have been developed for these students as well. Many of these have proven to be helpful and effective in helping with learning disabilities in children. New tactics have proven helpful for children with ADHD, Dyslexia, and others. Tactics such as phonics have been useful for children who have different learning disabilities. Most schools have been working with these children to set up a goals system. This helps them to work on short-term and long-term goals. The goals, however, are often too undefined for some children. It is always important to help children understand so that these goals do not cause more confusion for them. Use very basic language as well, as higher vocabulary words can cause confusion in children as well.

Disabilities that Hinder Learning and Working through Them

demonstrate wall to learning

Wall to Learning

Learning is a slow process that has taken years to understand. Many people have a gifted mind and are able to understand a plethora of subject areas.  Others are able to specialize in certain subjects.  Still others struggle with several different topics. Some people might be great in English but fail in math, while others are the complete opposite.  The worst thing someone dealing with a learning disability can do is to become discouraged.  Many of the worst aspects of a  learning disability can be overcome with persistence, diligence, perseverance, and the proper learning approach.


Health and Wellness Help for Learning Disabilities

It is important that you help your learning disabled child to take care of his/her body and mind. Exercise and nutrition are vital in maintaining skills that are needed to learn. What happens to you or your child is completely up to you. You can persevere, find more information, do the necessary research and develop long term goals for dealing with your child’s disability. Or, you can succumb to the disability and do nothing about it. What you do is completely up to you. But never forget that your child looks up to you and relies on you to help him/her learn through their disabilities.

Tips For Parents To Help Their Child With A Learning Disability

Here is a video and text list of 18 tips for parents to help a child adjust to living with a learning disability:

  1. Keep things in perspective. Remember, a learning disability is not insurmountable
  2. Become your own expert. Research, keep on top of new developments.
  3. Be an advocate for your child. Be proactive with school.
  4. Know that your influence is primary and that your child will follow your lead.
  5. Clarify your goals with school personnel.
  6. Be a good listener with school personnel.
  7. In dealing with your child’s situation, always stay calm and positive.
  8. Be persistent and don’t give up easily.
  9. Your attitude of support, encouragement, and optimism will have the most impact on your child.
  10. Not all children learn the same way. Identify how your child learns. Some children are visual learners [learns by seeing or reading], or auditory learners [learns best by listening] or kinesthetic learners [learns best by doing, hands-on activities].
  11. Because your child’s success ultimately is more than just in school   but also life success, you should consistently work with your child to do the following:
  12. develop and emphasize self-awareness and self-confidence in your child.
  13. develop a pro-active attitude in your child. Encourage your child to make decisions and independently (if possible), resolve problems.
  14. encourage perseverance in the face of failures and problems.
  15. encourage your child to set realistic and attainable goals, both short term and long term.
  16. help your child to develop strong social relationships so he can draw on them for help.
  17. help your child to develop the ability to regulate stress and remain calm in the face of frustrations and difficulties.
  18. emphasize healthy lifestyle habits.

I hope this article is helpful.  You have a difficult job, but it does not have to be overwhelming.

Please feel free to leave a comment if this article was helpful, or leave a question for me to answer.

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8 thoughts on “What Can I Do If My Child Has a Learning Disability?”

  • I had an undiagnosed learning disability. People just kept telling me I wasn’t trying hard enough. After a while, I did quit trying and dropped out halfway through my senior year. I eventually got my GED. If you don’t listen to your kids when they try to explain how difficult something is, you may miss out on an opportunity to help them improve. My kids had problems, so I tried to listen and help, but their father was highly uncooperative. The cycle continued. I hope my kids make better decisions with their kids. Compliments and aiding with encouragement and definitely helping the child understand and deal with stress are really good ideas. All parents should be required to read this article!

    • Cathy, all we can do is understand and be there for our children.  You know!  Glad to hear you endured and grew as a person.

  • I can totally relate to what you have written here.

    My wife and I raised our granddaughter from age 6 until she left at age 18.

    We had many things to deal with.  Low spectrum autism, Reactive attachment disorder, ADHD, reading issues and others.

    We had to learn all/most of these tips and did all that we could to help her to be able to deal with these things in her life.  Unfortunately, one of the groups she attended that was supposed to help by giving her additional ways to deal with these issues, started to teach them about “Autonomy”.  Autonomy is a good thing If one truly understands all that it encompasses.

    This was a big mistake when it came to our granddaughter.  When she heard what that meant, (her interpretation), she couldn’t wait to leave and live her own life which meant not having anyone around to tell her what she should do. (I believe this was the result of the “RAD” diagnosis.  Rejection of authority is part of that)

    The sad part was that we had to fight tooth and nail to get the support and training we needed, for us and for here, from various areas.  It wasn’t that easy 25 years ago to get that help and training we needed to deal with these needs.

    Thank you for this contribution.  Hopefully, it will reach many.  It has become much easier for parents of special needs children to get the help they need over the years.  Social and welfare groups have become more aware and are doing much more than they did 25 years ago.  Schools have also gotten much more involved in these kids’ lives as well and many are benefiting from the programs that are available now.

    These tips you have given are spot on.  We have lived it. We know they work for most.  Sadly, not all,


    • Wayne, I appreciate you relating your experience with your granddaughter.  And yes, society and times have improved in how we now treat our special needs children.  I hope your granddaughter is doing OK.

  • I could relate deeply to your article. My wife and I adopted our son because we couldn’t have natural born children. When he was two and a half we noticed he couldn’t stay still and wouldn’t stop talking. We tried to manage this using discipline and rewards. However, his behavior resulted in more discipline than rewards. Not a good situation. It was really hard to recognize when he did positive things because he exhausted us out. 

    We had him evaluated by a behavioral professional at age 4 and he was diagnosed with ADHD. A multi pronged approach was adopted to help our son. His Individual Education Program (IEP) results qualified him tor a County funded personal aid in class. Outside school we underwent sessions with a psychiatrist. And he was prescribed meds. 

    The personal aid worked the best as he discovered our son kept loosing his HW assignments as well as any HW he did complete. His aid kept him organized and took away his competed assignments as soon as he finished them. In that way his teacher received his HW and that helped a lot. 

    The sessions with the psychiatrist to me didn’t seem to provide answers except to evaluate the effects of his meds and make changes when necessary. Our son hated taking meds and we used to find pills all over the place. Eventually the psychiatrist asked him if he thought he needed them. Our son said no. So the psychiatrist took him off the meds. 

    Our son ditched classes a lot. He was great socially and had many friends. However he gravitated to kids who were at risk. We did our best as parents to steer him in the right direction. After he failed to graduate from HS on his own initiative he discovered that some of his friends were attending a government funded program called Job Corps. He applied and was accepted. We didn’t have to pay anything because of our financial status. The government provided full board, lodgings, tuition, clothing as well as spending money. While there they taught him a trade. After two years he graduated with his HS Diploma and entered the work force. There have been difficulties to get a well paying job until recently. He now works for a trucking company driving 18 wheelers as well as studying for a management position. 

    You mentioned that kids with earning difficulties often follow the lead and guidance of their parents. It took a while with our son but he eventually did. He has since got married, got divorced, has full custody of his three girls and is working hard to give them a happy and fulfilling life. 

    This is a good example of how a child with learning disabilities can succeed if their parents and community work together to find out and implement the solution right for them. 

    Here is a post script that some may find illuminating. Our son’s aid went above and beyond his duty and took him out on trips. Of course we had met him and approved these trips. When his aid got married he invited us to his wedding. And they kept up their friendship even after our son became an adult.

    Thanks for writing this very informative article.


  • It’s good to see I’m not the only one who thinks all children, even special needs children need to be stretched to achieve what they really can achieve. I have a few family members who are special needs and it is hard, hard for the parents and the child themselves. However, not giving them the push to learn is like telling them that they can’t. Great post!

    • Hollie, I totally agree.  Special needs children are whole people first and only special needs people second.  Special needs children can learn, even if it may be on a different path than for others.  Parents, schools and society need to adapt their treatment of special needs children to reflect the acknowledgement of their whole person status.  Thanks for your comment.

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