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Talking with family about your child's learning disability

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By Ann Christen, M.A., M.F.T. , Kristin Stanberry

Highlighting your child's strengths

Would it be easier for certain family members to focus on what your child does well, rather than what he struggles with? If so, praise them for wanting to boost your child's self-esteem. Then ask how each person would like to support your child's skills, talents, and interests. For example:

  • Does your child share a love of science with his dad? They might go to a science museum or build a project for the science fair together.
  • Reassure aunts, uncles, and grandparents that showing interest in your child's hobbies and activities is a great gift. Simple gestures, such as showing interest in the child's opinions or sharing secret jokes, will help him feel special.
  • Encourage your other children to cheer their brother on at games and remind him what he's good at. Some siblings resent this responsibility, so rewarding their efforts is very important.

Aiming for acceptance

While it's important to educate family members about your child's LD as soon as you comfortably can, do it on your own timetable - when it feels right for you.

Communicating with your family about LD is an ongoing process. It will take time for each family member to feel comfortable in a new role with your child. Don't be discouraged if some never fully understand his LD. As long as they give him their love, acceptance, and attention, he'll feel special. In time, each person can find positive ways to support and interact with him.

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education, and consumer health/wellness issues. Her areas of expertise include learning disabilities and AD/HD, which she wrote about extensively for Schwab Learning and GreatSchools.