Living With Your Child's Learning Disability
Accepting that your child has a learning disability and special needs can be difficult. When you realize that you have to rethink the plans and expectations that you had for your child, you may have negative emotions. You may have to work through feelings of bitterness and sadness more than once or twice. Begin by accepting your own emotions and letting yourself feel them. Once you have acknowledged your own feelings, begin to work through them so they stop draining you of hope and energy. When you better understand your feelings you can begin to more easily and quickly let go of them when they begin to overwhelm you. And when you have banished your negative emotions, you can begin the task of working to meet your child’s needs.
Take One Day at a Time
Fearing the unknown, the distant, and the immediate future can be debilitating. It is more manageable to live in the present, one day at a time, and address the day’s issues rather than questions about the future. Focus on the good things each day brings; that will make the problems of the day a bit less daunting. When your child has a learning disability, you must constantly seek information and educate yourself. This process can become overwhelming and seem unmanageable. For these reasons it is important to stay organized and focused on one task at a time. You cannot learn everything there is to learn about your child’s situation in one day and you should not try to. Pace yourself as you work to learn more.
Search for consistent, positive sources of strength and wisdom to help get you through each day. This could mean talking to an uplifting friend or family member regularly or becoming involved in your religious community. Also remember that you are not on this journey alone! There are lots of parents in similar situations that have been struggling with the same feelings and issues that you are. Seek out a group of similarly situated people where you can be encouraged, receive resources and get advice to help you along.
Remember this is Your Child
Through everything, love and enjoy your child. Your child’s disability may present new hurdles and seemingly impossible challenges but facing them presents new ways to support and love your child. Every child needs their parent’s love, support, and encouragement. That part of your job has not changed at all. As you work to understand the different responsibilities you now have as a parent of a child with special needs, remember always that you are first and foremost a parent. Take time to delight in your child and remind yourself what this hard work is all about. This can do wonders for your positivity and encouragement.
VeryWellFamily – Common Parent Reactions to a Child’s Learning Disability
Understood.org – Learning Disabilities in Kids
ldonline.org – Helping Parents Deal with the Fact That Their Child has a Disability
ParentMap – Accepting the Grief in Learning Disabilities
This guide was developed as part of a project made possible by a Grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Ohio State Bar Foundation.
Lead researcher/author: Shannon Meyer, J.D. Candidate, 2018, RedTreehouse.org Legal Intern