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Tips for Parents with Students with Learning Disabilities

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Tips for Parents of Children with LD/ADHD

Cheerful family with mother, father, son and daughterParents are always looking for hints that will make learning easier for their LD/ADHD child. This article suggests some helpful tips that LDA parents have learned from one another over the years. It includes tips for organizational problems, auditory problems, visual and motor problems, language-expressive problems and language-receptive problems as well as tips for parenting in general. Providing structure in your family can be a good first step. Also, your local LDA parent group can often offer more tips and, most importantly, offer parental support that you need. Contact your state or local affiliate for more information and possible referrals in your area. 

Organizational Problems

  1. Provide structure as best as possible within your family. Structuring the entire family along with your LD/ADHD child will provide the child with the guidance he needs. An example: arise at 7 a.m., dress by 7:15 a.m., bed made by 7:30 a.m., teeth and hair done by 7:40 a.m., breakfast done by 8:00 a.m., and out the door by 8:05 a.m. for the bus at 8:15 a.m. Book bags, homework from the night before should be by the front door.
  2. Do not allow your child to gain control of any situation. You are to structure the tasks. If he throws a “fit” when given responsibilities (for age), then he should be told, “When you are finished you may start with your responsibilities.”
  3. List jobs appropriate for age. Start with short work periods, i.e., 10-20 minutes in length. Increase the time as his/her interest grows. Compliment on the job done. Try very hard not to redo it. If the bed is not made the way you would have done it, then he did it the way he knew best. Turn it into a teaching lesson and say, “I like the way you tried your best to make your bed, especially how you pulled the bed spread up and tucked it in.”
  4. Color-code drawers and hangers in his room. For example, red hangers for shirts, drawers with the red dot for underwear. Then make a chart so they can follow the colors and hang it on his wall.
  5. Put a chart with words and pictures in the bathroom for times and chores. An example would be brushing his teeth with toothpaste (be explicit) at 7:30.
  6. Always be prepared to redirect the child. Never take for granted that the child remembers, but try not to hang over him while he is doing the responsibility. Present the task in short directions and have the child repeat them.

Auditory Problems

  1. Make sure you have facial contact with the child when communicating with him.
  2. Allow sufficient time for the child to process and respond to the given task. Remember to give one step at a time.
  3. Give multiple forms of instructions, i.e., visual, auditory, written (charts), tactile.
  4. Make sure your child sits in the most advantageous seat in the classroom, i.e., if the teacher talks with her back to the child, poor instructions will take place.
  5. Alert the child to important information, i.e., “This is important. Please listen carefully.”

Visual and Visual Motor

  1. Make a window in a cardboard and have the child track words through this window.
  2. Allow the child to point to the words.
  3. Underline important concepts.
  4. For directionality, use green line to start on the left side and a red dot to stop on the right side.
  5. Visual sensitivity may work well with yellow paper.
  6. Encourage the child to memorize and recite the material.
  7. Have realistic expectations of the child’s handwriting and neatness and do not demand speed. Consider a note taker for the older child.
  8. Ask for alternative test methods for the child, i.e., having the student answering orally, highlighting instead of writing answers.
  9. Limit copying from the board.

Language-Expressive

  1. Encourage letter writing to friends, relatives. Have decorative paper or stationary with their name on it to make it fun to use.
  2. Keep a daily journal with your child. Have them write feelings or happenings to you and you write back the next day. Let them know that this is a special project between the two of you (also helps to promote relationships!!).
  3. Have the child relate daily activities. Encourage complete sentences if possible.
  4. Have fun. Do a “nonsense” story. Make up the first sentence and have the child do the next. Laughter encouraged!! (Also promotes self esteem!!)
  5. Use puppets to act out stories. Create your own plot. Also use puppets to have the child talk about something that happened during the day that he might have trouble communicating to you.

Language-Receptive

  1. Go for walks and trips. Name trees, flowers, and animals to the child.
  2. Reading to the child helps with receptive language. Ask what, when, and where questions about the story.
  3. Read a story and ask the child to draw a picture of the story. Draw a picture and have the child tell a story about the picture.
  4. Always have the child repeat directions back to you.
  5. Explain words and phrases that have hidden meanings (idioms, puns, metaphors).
  6. Paraphrase using simple language.

For Parents Only

Raising a special child takes 180% of parenting. Often a spouse or siblings feel left out. Consider the following:

  1. Family Reward Chart. List several special things to do. When a reward is due, have the LD/ADHD child pick from that list. (It could be as simple as a trip to the park.) When the family goes or does the special event, others in the family can compliment the special child because they are all rewarded. (Builds self esteem too!!)
  2. Try to maintain family dinners as much as possible. Each family should tell what happened during the day.
  3. Mom and Dad need to support one another. If one has given a rule or punishment, the other should support and enforce what has been said. NEVER allow the child to come between you and your spouse. If you disagree with what has been done, do it later when the child is not around.
  4. Maintain your relationship with your spouse. Make a date with your spouse at least one time per month. Get a sitter and get away, even if it’s for a walk in the park or to McDonald’s for a shake and a hamburger. So much energy is placed working with the child, marriages can falter. By setting aside special time, communication can remain open and marriages can be made stronger. After your children are grown and gone, your relationship with your spouse will be sound.

The above are only a few tips that help in raising an LD/ADHD child. Your local LDA parent group can often offer more tips and most importantly, offer you parental support that you need.