This is a soap box I stand on often. I received an email from my
husband with a PowerPoint slide show attached. The slide show
was created by a person with autism. The pictures are not his,
but those of a German photographer who purportedly has autism
as well. (Emails travel through the Internet at lightening speed! I do not purport to guarantee the integrity of the person who originally sent this 1st PPT. I did research the photographer and the person who created the PPT and the information appears accurate.) I have included the PPT for you to enjoy and to inspire hope! The pictures are amazing!!! I have also included links to various web pages where you can find more information on certain learning disabilities. At the end of this blog, you will also find a list of famous people who have learning disabilities, but have overcome their struggles. Your child can do it too!!!!
I have been a 1st grade teacher for five years now. In those five years, I have taught many children ranging from gifted to average to those suffering from learning disabilities. I have taught children with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and mild autism. Some of these children have parents who are on-board. What does that mean to be a parent who is on-board? It means these parents have accepted their child’s learning disability and will do anything to ensure the success of their child. I have experienced parents with fear in their eyes who refuse to seek help for their child because they are in denial. I have experienced parents who do not tell me about their child’s diagnosis.
I love my job and it is very rewarding. At times though, it can be very frustrating and sad. I firmly believe that all children can be successful! But they need tools to achieve that success! When a parent refuses to seek help for their child, they are effectively blocking that child’s success. I think parents fear the “label” and they don’t want anyone to think (or their child to think) they are stupid. I wish that word was never invented!! There aren’t any stupid children!!!! Children with learning disabilities are not stupid, they just needs tools to learn in a different manner than most others! For instance, did you know that your brain stores information in “compartments”? When we go to “retrieve” certain information, our brain goes looking in the appropriate compartment. How cool is that and we don’t even know it’s happening?!? Now the brain of a dyslexic does not have neat compartments. Their brains store information in random all over the place inside their brain. So when they need to retrieve information, their brain has to search all the compartments until it finds what it is looking for. This child will need tools to help him/her cope with this frustration!
Children with learning disabilities learn early on that they are different from other children. Yes, as early as Kindergarten and 1st Grade!!!! Children are perceptive creatures. They learn early on that Kim and Tom can read chapter books by the middle of 1st grade while they are still stuck on See Dick Run! They label themselves as slow, dumb, stupid, I can’t read, I can’t do Math, I’m not good at ____, I’m not smart, etc., etc., etc. We do NOT want them labeling themselves!!!! They hinder their own success by retreating into a dark world of sadness and failure. Parents who do not seek help perpetuate the cycle!!
My daughter is ADD…severely ADD! I began recognizing the symptoms in 2nd and 3rd grade. She maintained wonderful grades so we kept an eye on her. In the 4th grade, her grades and self-esteem fell off the charts! We sought help for her and she is now successful again. Is it hard? Yes! Does she still struggle? Yes! Do we as her parents still feel frustrated and worried for her? Of course, of course, of course!! The quality of her study time has greatly improved, which results in less arguing at the dinner table over grades and pulling teeth to help her “get” Math, etc. So her success in school is directly tied to her self-esteem, the quality of our family time together, and the list could go on and on.
I strongly encourage any parent who fears their child may be suffering form some form of disability to start talking with your child’s teacher and your family physician. Start somewhere and begin the cycle of finding your child the tools to achieve the success they CAN have!!