I get it. Worry is written into the job description of being a parent.
And if your child struggles with academics, like reading, writing, or arithmetic, you’ve likely worried, at least a little, about the future.
Of course, I’m sure you wouldn’t admit this out loud, but have you ever secretly wondered:
- Is my child just… dumb?
- Will she live in the basement for the rest of her life?
- Will he have to join the circus? Oh wait. The circus just closed up shop. Whatever will he do?
Don’t feel ashamed if those thoughts, or similar ones, ever crossed your mind.
If I can, though, please allow me to remove some of that worry weight from your shoulders.
You see, back in my day (don’t ask me how long ago that was – my lips are sealed!) special education was reserved for students with low IQ scores.
Students with average to above average intelligence who struggled to keep up with peers were easily dismissed as unmotivated, defiant, lazy, or all of the above. If they couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class, well, that must be the students’ fault, not the schools’.
Professionals in the field of learning differences (a.k.a. learning disabilities) knew better than that. Still, these students often fell through the cracks of the education system.
Without receiving the help they needed, children with unidentified learning differences could struggle to learn throughout their entire lives. Without proof of the contrary, they likely viewed themselves as dumb, stupid, incompetent. What else could explain why they worked twice as hard as everyone else, and finished assignments three times as slowly?
Fast forward to today. Your child may receive special education services for a variety of reasons, one being a specific learning disability (SLD). This could be a visual or auditory processing issue, or dyslexia, or dysgraphia, for example.
The key takeaway here lies within the definition of specific learning disability, or rather, what the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) says that SLD does NOT include:
Specific Learning Disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of… intellectual disability…
No Specific Learning Disability is attributed to lack of motivation, effort, or intelligence.
So, if your child has an IQ score below 80 then yes, you may need to start thinking about accommodations for the future.
If your child has a Specific Learning Disability, on the other hand, wahoo!!! It’s time to jump up and celebrate! Yes, I said celebrate. Your child likely has above average intelligence. Heck, maybe even higher than yours. (If you really insist on worrying, then worry about the day your child learns THAT little nugget of truth.)
In the academic arena, you probably don’t see much evidence that your learner is actually an undercover smarty pants. Not yet, anyway. But with the right services and supports, learning does NOT need to be a lifelong struggle. Your child doesn’t need to feel dumb, stupid, incompetent, because he isn’t. She isn’t. She may even be gifted.
That hidden intelligence? It’s just waiting to be tapped.
And you, dear parent, are the perfect facilitator. Throughout this blog I talk more about HOW to be the change agent in your child’s ability to learn, so feel free to explore. (Start here if you’re new.)
I even offer some DIY training videos for parents and educators. Explore what’s available here.