It’s not easy to be the parent of a learning disabled child.
I know because I am one.
My second eldest daughter was diagnosed at the age of seven with Auditory LD. This is not what it “sounds” like (no pun intended) but actually has to do with the processing of information gathered by the brain. Information can go in, but half the time only half of it gets computed. This held true for verbal and written information, which made learning difficult for my little girl.
Up until the testing (which I had to fight tooth and nail for with the school system) I knew something was wrong with my baby. We would study for spelling tests the night before and she would ace every word. By the next morning she would forget every single one. At school conferences the teacher would tell me how she would raise her hand to come to the desk with a question and by the time she walked to the teacher she would forget what she was going to ask. Top this off with the fact that she was flanked by two sisters, one older and one younger than she, who were both “A” students!
Then there was the bullying.
I didn’t learn about this until well after she was into adulthood, which made me feel really rotten as a parent. Why I didn’t see any of the signs I will never know. Maybe it was because I was working and raising four kids at the time, but I still feel really guilty about that. She never uttered a word about it and thank God her younger sister, who stood as tall as she was in grammar school, took up her defense on the playground of the elementary school.
There was a learning curve for me also!
A lot of children with learning disabilities tend to work on what is called “negative response.” This was really difficult for me as I am a reactionary person who was easily sucked into arguments with her. I had no idea that was exactly what she was looking for! The special Ed teachers taught me how to respond without getting into an all out screaming fight about stupid things that would trigger my responses as a mother… “You don’t love me as much as you love my sisters!” That was one that used to throw me into a tizzy! I calmly learned how to respond with, “You know that isn’t true,” and walked away to find a closet to scream in! I was taught not to react but to react to any little positive thing she could come up with.
And yes, it was a long haul.
Early morning remedial classes at a different school before I even went to work. Patterning, redirecting processing, speech therapy, and other help methods were involved. Even through high school I would meet with her “team” of teachers in what were called “PPT’s” to map out her curriculum with aids to allow her to learn what she needed to learn. After she graduated she wanted to go on to college and that was when I learned about the CT Bureau of Rehabilitative Services (BRS).
The BRS was a great resource for adults who are looking to further their education. They helped me with funding to send my daughter to a college in Philadelphia where she was to be aided by the teachers at that facility. They paid the entire tuition, room and board and it was great, until my daughter couldn’t keep up with the course load. This was the result of no one being around to oversee that the school did not provide the necessary help she needed because no one was there to keep their feet to the fire. It was a sad day, but my daughter had to come back home to try a different course of action. She enrolled in a Community College where she got the support that she needed.
It took a few more years but she received her Associates Degree and went on to complete a Certificate as a Licensed Massage Therapist and Esthetician. She is now married and expecting a child of her own.
I would tell any parent of a learning-disabled child this one thing:
NEVER STOP ADVOCATING FOR YOUR KID!
The system doesn’t care, the schools really don’t care, and maybe you’ll find a counselor (thank you Ms. Thibault) or teacher once in a while that does, but they are so busy with other kids in the classroom it is easy for your child to fall through the cracks. Keep on top of it! It is tiring, frustrating, and mentally exhausting at times, but the results are fruitful and love will get you through.