Originally posted 24 August 2007
First learn about your child’s learning disability. Find out the symptoms or traits and problems this disability may cause. Be sure to keep a record of every meeting, test results and diagnosis your child has.
Become informed of the rights you and your child have under the IDEA law. This is a federal law that your child’s school must follow. You should be given a copy of your rights under this law. Keep copies of all meeting notes and IEPs (Individual Education Plan). As a teacher one of the saddest things I have observed is the large number of well-educated people who are not aware of what the law provides for children with learning disabilities. Even if your child is not enrolled in public school the school district is still required to provide speech and other types of therapy. The school may not make it easy to acquire these services but they are still required to provide them. Your local school district is also required to provide testing if you suspect your child has a learning problem. Private testing can be expensive.
Become an expert on your child and what your child needs to be successful in school and life. Teachers and other professionals may change from year to year. When dealing with school personnel be polite but insistent that your child’s needs are being met.
Challenge your child to reach his or her potential but be sure to keep your expectations realistic. This is an area in which my mom excelled. I am moderately dyslexic and severely dysgraphic. The day I graduated with my Master’s degree my mom who had over 30 years’ experience as special educator informed me that I was one of the most severe cases of dysgraphia she had ever dealt with. One early diagnosis she received was that I would probably never learn to read and write. I had been reading on a post-secondary level since about 5th grade.
Teach your child how to manage his or her learning disability. When your child is in 4th or 5th grade start teaching your child how to become responsible for managing his or her learning disability. This will require a lot of work on your part and you may not see any real progress in this area for many years but do not give up on your child. My mom forced me to learn organizational skills, reading and other important tasks. Organizational skills is still a weakness for me but have learned what I need to be successful. For example I use a calendar and Outlook to help me remember things. Most importantly teach your child how and when to ask for help.