Learning Disability? I Can't Accept That!
During my 15 years as an educator, I have been introduced to many disabilities. These disabilities include ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism, Asperger's syndrome, dyslexia, speech impairment, and others. I had to research, adjust, and plan a
ccordingly to help my students learn. However, it became a little different when it was time to approach parents with newly identified children.
I did not understand why parents had a rough time accepting a unique part of their child's development. I did not emphasize with my fellow parents until it hit close to home. For me, I was in slight denial. I wanted to believe what I was hearing, but a part of me was not ready. Remember, I had students that had unique "abilities". I knew how to teach them, how to communicate with them and understand their point of view at times. So, why was it hard for me when dealing with my own child? Why could I not fully accept his diagnosis? I did not want my child to struggle later in life, become embarrassed, or rely on his "ability" as an excuse to give up or not try.
In 2017, my second grader was diagnosed with a condition called Auditory Processing Disorder(APD). Like most of us, parents, I did not know what this condition was or what it all entail for my child. Auditory Processing Disorder is more common than we think. APD is a disorder in which the hearing and brain signals are affected. According to Nemours Kids Health, this condition doesn't allow a person to understand what they hear in the same way other kids do. It affects how the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, especially speech.
My son would come home every day crying in frustration when he was in Kindergarten and first grade. He would become emotional over small things such as a toy not working, going to the store, spilling a drink, or even changing his clothes. First, I thought that he was just tired from a long school day. Even after a short nap, he was still upset and emotional. After two years, I did not have any more strategies left. I called one of our local pediatric psychologists to receive advice and psychiatric evaluation. I did not want to assume anything but I did. I thought that my son could have been either bipolar or ADHD based on his symptoms. I am not a psychologist and Google does not always have the answers. Just want to mention this! I will leave it up to the professionals when it comes to mental and physical health concerns.
Two weeks later after his assessment, he was formally diagnosed and was given a plan for home and school. The first question I asked during the evaluation review was, "Can he grow out of this disorder?" Like other parents, I was nervous about how my son will react and how he will be perceived among his peers.
With the help of his psychologist, I was able to gain some insights to pass on to others regardless of disability and/or disorder.
Here are a few tips that I have learned through my continuous journey:
1. Connect with Your Child's Development
By staying connected with your child's development, you are able to detect early signs of learning deficits. Keeping up with pediatric visits and parent-teacher conferences can provide more insights into your child's development. I was able to detect my child's uniqueness not only using my observations but also using his teachers' and doctors' findings. Delaying time can cause more stress and delays for your child.