For most of us, school was simply one of the responsibilities of being a child.
But for students with learning disabilities, there’s nothing simple about school. From the morning ride to evening homework time, every day is filled with anxiety. So much so that the only thing left at night is exhaustion from trying to understand the lessons.
Here are some things to bear in mind if you think your student is struggling with a learning disability. By accurately identifying it, you can take the first step to understanding that struggle.
An Entirely Different Experience
For these students, school is not necessarily a pleasant experience.
Think of an academic subject in which you feel completely inadequate (or did at one time). For me, it was junior high school math. By eighth grade, I had been completely beaten by math. Why even try when all I’ll get for the effort is a D or worse?
That’s how students with learning disabilities feel, but it doesn’t stop with one grade or one class. Every subject can seem like a foreign language, affecting their confidence and putting a strain on relationships with others who don’t understand the struggle.
One class to the next, they are all equally mind-numbing.
They are afraid of asking questions because the other kids will think they’re stupid or the teacher will grow impatient. The day is painfully slow, yet all they can think about are the pages of homework. Things their class was taught but they still don’t understand how to do.
And yet their only “help” is from Dad, who’s going to try to do what the teacher couldn’t after his own full day at work.
Recognizing These Students
Students who are experiencing difficulty in any subject go through this. They feel stupid or misunderstood or any number of negative emotions. And for those who are successful in school, the time and effort spent is excessive when compared to the majority of their peers.
It’s easy to see why kids might develop a headache or tummy ache before school begins. It’s easy to see why self-esteem and self-confidence evaporate when so much of each is defined by performance in school. Yet this is what they have to “look forward to” until graduation. If they can endure it.
These are the bravest students in school. Let’s give them the support they deserve to achieve real academic success.
If you found this helpful, stay tuned for our follow-up piece on the steps for supporting students with learning disabilities.