I have the privilege of being the mother of a brilliant girl. I remember gazing with wonderous eyes at every little milestone and worrying sick every time I noticed that she struggled. A sinking feeling that reached deep inside, telling me something seems odd. The next thought was the rationale that all children have their own unique development. I remember the feelings of sadness and immense happiness on the first day of Kindergarten. She was leaving my side to discover the wonders of knowledge and friends to be made.
I didn’t know then but faith had a plan. This would be the first day of a long struggle. Kindergarten expectations are hard for some children. The expectations of memorizing continuous lists of vocabulary words, sight words, high-frequency words, numbers, as well as emerging reading tasks.
For children with learning disabilities, it’s a struggle. The frustration and debilitating feeling of not being able to keep up with their peers has a devastating effect. My heart breaks remembering the last day of Kindergarten when all of the children were getting noticed for their academic accomplishments. My daughter would spend countless hours reviewing and memorizing only to forget in a matter of hours. She had worked endlessly and her reward was the feeling of being broken. I could not bear her sadness. We must move away from being discriminative in the way we reward effort. I’m not implying that all efforts are equal but we need to be aware of the great effort some children endure to be able to do the simplest task. In recognizing this effort we are showing that their effort matters. We must see their strengths and gifts and build their potential. We should help them to empower themselves, explore their strengths, understand their uniqueness, and how to advocate for the uniqueness of self. All children have potential that they want to share.
In my daughter’s experience, this would go on for years. Every school year she works endlessly. Reviewing for hours the same school work that a average student may work on for an hour.
Children are resilient but the emotional toll that disability has is long-lasting and has devastating consequences. This includes low self-esteem, depression, anxiety. Behavioral disorders are often the result. It is crucial that children that are suspected of having a disability are evaluated. To discover their challenges, and what learning supports can be provided for them to overcome their difficulties. All children deserve to have successful outcomes throughout their school years, to prepare them to fulfill their role in society. Fulfill their aspirations and succeed. It is also important to support social-emotional wellbeing. By providing strategies to cope with the overwhelming feelings of frustration and self-doubt. For parents, understanding their children’s challenges is equally important to help convey to others their children’s needs.
I can attest that the challenges never end, the road of advocating for your child’s needs doesn’t get easier. I can say, however, that with parental support, appropriate instructional implementations, accommodations, and remediations that are developed for the unique needs of your child, a miraculous gain of Skills, self-love, and happiness is found. For once you see your child’s future open to celebrate their unique gifts and the infinite possibilities of success.