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By Melinda Sacks
For many kids with learning disabilities, finding a passion will require extra effort on the part of the parents. And it may well involve trying many different things before one of them clicks with your child. Some ideas that can lead to a new-found interest include having your child:
Parents who are willing to dabble with their kids may be surprised to find a passion they can share with their child. It’s worth the search, therapists and child development experts agree, because when children find something they love, it can foster a lifetime of creativity and satisfaction.
For our son, golf turned out to be another great match. None of his friends played, nor were his dad and I golfers. But when a friend came to town and wanted to visit the local course, we took our then 9-year-old son along. At first he was more interested in the golf carts than the game, but over time, he has developed a great swing, and today at 15, when his attention is focused, he can hit a 225-yard drive that brings a wide grin to his often solemn face. At 16 he can apply for a job on the city course and finally get behind the wheel of one of those carts.
Because it is a quiet game based on individual, not team performance, golf is ideal for kids who have trouble in a fast-paced team sport such as basketball or soccer. It is also a good way to make new friends, since foursomes are required on most golf courses, where strangers are matched up for the afternoon.
“It can definitely be harder for kids with learning difficulties,” says Juliet Melamid, a Licensed Marriage, Family and Child therapist who specializes in working with families with children who struggle academically or socially. “What turns kids on is when they get strokes for something, and that’s key. They have to find something that comes a little more easily and that feels comfortable before they can develop real enthusiasm for it.”
In the end, what makes helping your child find a passion so worth pursuing is the inward joy it can bring in good times or bad. It isn’t scoring a goal in the last seconds of the football game or being chosen for the solo in the school concert that matters most. It is the knowledge that when the going gets tough, as it inevitably will, your child will have something to turn to for solace.
This is what I remind myself of as I stand at the kitchen counter preparing dinner, my son in his room banging out the day’s frustration on his drums. By the time we sit down for dinner, though, a sense of calm descends on the house, and I am glad that golf, at least, is a quiet passion.
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