Change is constant by law of nature. Times, education, learning styles have also undergone changes, thanks to an evolving education system world over. However, with all appealing forms of technology (introduced even in education and also seen as a sign of “Intelligence” in children) where not a lot of mental is required, especially in reading and writing, Learning Disabilities(LD) are on a rise. Figures indicate that cases of LD are witnessing a two-fold rise than they 10 years ago. There has been a two-fold rise in the past decade in the identification and diagnosis of LD in children. In such times, it is pretty natural for any parent to worry when their child is identified as a suspect of possible LD.
1. DON’T FREAK OUT: It is a pretty natural reaction when you get to know concerns, especially academic in nature. However, given this fact it is best not to get carried away by what you or the school has observed or shared! It is a mere observation which may or may not turn out to be a formal diagnosis. A first impression need not be the last one! Simply hear out what the child’s referral sources and do nothing else.
2. UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS: An LD assessment happens over a session of formal and informal tests and observations. Worry not because your child does not have to shed a drop of blood (Phew!). Rather it would be a set of normed, standardized tests that would help the professional warrant a diagnosis and recommend provisions accordingly. What is more important on your part is information on how the process works and how long it will take. Get any and every doubt clarified at this point so as to avoid any frustration or discrepancies in future.
3. TALK TO YOUR CHILD: Your child may often be clueless about what they are going to go through an approaching days. As a parent talk frankly to your child. Do not project as if an avalanche is going to hit him/her. Rather teach them how to keep themselves safe. Do not shy away from telling them that they learn differently than other children and that they will be going through a series of tests which will have activities of some form. This will help them know where the problem lies. Refrain from labelling the child in any case.
4. DO NOT USE ASSESSMENT AS A TOOL: Parents often subconsciously use the testing process to punish their child. For e.g. If you misbehave I will ask the teacher to be strict with you which is an unpleasant statement. In fact, you have already given a negative impression of the psychologist to your child! It may seem minor however, think of how biased your child is going to be in such cases they may not perform well out of being afraid. Encourage them for their benefit.
5. A NIGHT BEFORE: Ensure your child sleeps for at least 8-9 hours before pre- assessment. It goes unsaid knowing that a good night sleep leads to a great day. Lack of sleep leads to easy fatigue. It also may lead children to mental and cognitive fatigue and eventually affect their performance on the test.
6. THE MORNING BEFORE: A psycho-education takes long hours to complete. Children’s growing minds and bodies require adequate nutrients. Hence, ensure your child has a heavy breakfast to keep them going. Carry a large water bottle and sufficient food as breaks in between are needed. Gain their confidence and keep them as calm as possible. Reach 15 mins prior to the appointment so that your child can freshen up and be ready on time to go!
As an anonymous quote says, “All kids need is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them.” Remember, a parent is the root on which will your child will grow. If the root rots or dies, the tree suffers. Be optimistic in your attitude and your child and the world are at your feet.