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Discovering your child has a learning disability can create a range of reactions: from relief at finally knowing the source of academic troubles, to fear that he or she will be ‘labeled’ by classmates and teachers. Aside from specialized teaching support, there are several basic steps you can take to help your child overcome the hurdles of a learning disability (LD) and thrive:

Organize your schedule at home. Since order and predictability are important to children with LDs, set up house rules and a stable routine. Explain any changes to the schedule well in advance and warn children of upcoming events and new activities such as, “We’ll be leaving for the playground in five minutes.”

Don’t rush! Rushing and confusion in the morning can make an already difficult time worse for an LD child. Lay out your child’s clothes the night before. Make lunches in the evening, and leave plenty of time for breakfast in the morning.

Give clear feedback and instructions. Get your child’s full attention, and then speak slowly and clearly. Ask him/her to repeat instructions back to you. Don’t give more than two instructions at the same time and be sure to break complex tasks down into manageable chunks.

Use rewards and consequences appropriately. Clearly explain your expectations of good behaviour. Learn about behaviour modification techniques that reward positive actions and have natural consequences for negative conduct. Use time-outs and take away privileges to discourage bad behaviour instead of corporal punishment.

Deflect or redirect inappropriate behaviour by helping your child focus on a different activity or task.

Be consistent. Do what you say you’ll do, at the time you say you’ll do it. When your child breaks a rule or behaves inappropriately, warn him/her once and then follow through with the consequences you have outlined in advance.

Foster healthy social skills. Watch your child play or study with other children. Reward constructive steps such as taking turns, listening and being understanding or kind. Point out and explain positive examples when they happen. Ask your child questions that encourage empathy and self-reflection such as, “How do you think you would feel if. . .”

Remember:

  • Cultural or language differences, poor or inappropriate teaching, socio-economic status or lack of motivation, do not bring about LDs. These and other issues, however, can compound their impact.
  • Amongst others, attention, behavioural and emotional disorders as well as sensory impairments—such as hearing or vision—can all co-exist with an LD.
  • With early identification, effective instruction, and minor adjustments, most children with LDs can succeed.
  • Though the challenges of a learning disability are usually life-long, these effects can increase or fade. Changing goals, social circumstances and coping strategies of people with LDs can all impact the intensity of a learning disability.

The above material is not a substitute for the advice of a physician or medical expert.
Please consult a specialized health professional for additional information on this topic.

Research for this topic has been collected from a variety of sources. Primary sources include:

Learning Disabilities Resource Centre

http://www.ldrc.ca/

Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC)

http://www.ldac-taac.ca/

Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO)

http://www.ldao.on.ca/

 

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