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Promote Uniqueness and Not Labels (Children with Learning Difficulties)

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Promote Uniqueness and Not Labels (Children with Learning Difficulties)

Annette Hendley 

 

Each child is unique and each child learns in a unique way. Fitting into a traditional education system is difficult for many children. Most learn to cope with it, but a child with specific learning difficulties struggles to fit into the system and needs all the support and help they can get.

Parents know their children better than anyone else and instinctively know if something is wrong. If you suspect your child doesn’t learn the same way as other children, it is important to have the child tested.  According to the NHS (UK) website, learning disabilities are best diagnosed after the age of five.

It is obviously a shock to parents to learn that their child might be dyslexic or have Asperger’s or any other learning difficulty. But for many it is a relief to know exactly why their child behaves differently than expected. With a proper diagnosis the child will have a professionally crafted educational plan, which will allow teachers and parents to assist the child effectively.

learning difficulty

Unfortunately, the moment a learning difficulty is diagnosed it seems to become a label. We live in a society where labelling happens so easily. We seem to look down on anything and everything that doesn’t fit with our idea of normal. Luckily there are wonderful role models who didn’t allow their labels to stop them from succeeding. The designer of Pokémon has Asperger’s and Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison are believed to have been dyslexic. Richard Branson is one of the most successful dyslexic businessmen of our time.

As a teacher I am vigilant to ensure that my students don’t allow their labels to affect them in any way. We focus on their amazing strengths and create plans to use those strengths to overcome other difficulties they have.

This is actually a universal truth and doesn’t only apply to learning difficulties, or in the classroom. Each person in a child’s life can make a difference and help the child to become the best he or she can be. The more knowledge we have about the issues a child struggles with, the better we can help.

I have worked with some unbelievable parents on both sides of the spectrum. There are unfortunately those who are so set in their ways and beliefs that they will never acknowledge that their child needs help and they will do anything to prevent the school from assisting the child. In Britain however the Children and Families Act of 2014 states that social services have an obligation to assess children in need. It is not always the most pleasant experience for a school to call in the assistance of social services, but refusal from parents to support a child’s learning difficulties is viewed in the same light as abuse.

I had to work very hard to restore self confidence in a 16-year old boy after his father told him that he is such a disappointment to his family. The father believed the boy would become a doctor and even though the boy was obviously more interested in music and art, he was forced to study chemistry and maths. It was heart breaking to see how sad this made the boy when all he wanted to do was to make his parents proud.

Luckily most parents are supportive and downright awesome.

One mother embraced her young son’s obsession with glass tumblers. He is on the autism spectrum. She got him all the glasses he wanted and they played games with them. They poured water into the glasses and created different tunes and at other times made coloured water to pour into the glasses. The boy eventually became a very successful physicist.

Another one of my students with Asperger’s is completing a computing degree this year at one of London’s leading universities.  His parents embraced his uniqueness and were grateful for every little bit of help the school provided.

young-girl-working-on-tablet-with-tutor

One of the most important tasks parents and teachers of children with learning difficulties have is to ensure each child embraces his or her uniqueness and to forget about the labels. The labels are only there to tailor a specific educational plan for the child. Only that and nothing more.

Support groups are very useful and help parents to understand that their child is far from the only one struggling with learning in a traditional manner. Parents share their stories and get advice from one another.

Schools can do more to create awareness of learning difficulties. With a possible ten percent of the world’s population being dyslexic, schools have an obligation to be more informative. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of six children in the USA has a developmental disability.

We should all do more to promote uniqueness in children instead of labels.

 

 

About the Author

Annette Hendley

Sen Tutor at Ilford Country High/Marketing & Management

Find out more about Annette Hendley at www.annettehendley.com.

Annette Hendley image

 

 

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