The objective of this article is to highlight how powerful attitudes toward children with learning disabilities can be.
By: Susan Adams, M. Ed.
Summary: Attitudes of teachers and parents can make a huge difference in the success or failure of children with learning disabilities. The nature of these problems has the potential to destroy families. This article presents a discussion of these issues.
It is easy to understand why teachers would rather work with normal than handicapped children. In fact, work with these children requires special training. However, when the disabilities are not severe enough for special schools or classes, the children are mainstreamed and may encounter difficulty with teachers.
Teachers may perceive these children to be less cooperative, less attentive, less able to organize themselves, less able to cope with new situations, less socially acceptable to others, less able to complete assignments, and less tactful than classmates.
The result is that many teachers forced to deal with learning disabled children are turned off, may be impatient, and some may be prone to negative labeling. Since these youngsters are of normal intelligence, a teacher without understanding of the problems may assume the child is lazy or disruptive.
Teachers don’t cause learning disabilities. However, if they fail to recognize the disorder the child’s self-confidence may suffer greatly.
Similarly, the parents of such children did not cause the basic disorder, though they may blame themselves. If they tease their youngster about being slow or clumsy, fail to recognize that their child is different and needs to be handled differently from some other children, and if the parents nag about school failure of split in ideas over the child in his presence, they as well can negatively affect outcome.
Could a family’s emotional problems cause this disorder? Maybe, in some cases if neglect ensues. It is more likely that the disorder creates emotional problems in the family which then impede everyone’s emotional health.
For these reasons, when I have the opportunity, I recommend family therapy for families with these children performed by someone knowledgeable in learning disabilities. I do think that these children can tear up families by splitting parental attitudes. Sometimes one parent cannot accept that there is a problem. This overburdens the other parent. The parents must be a team. They must be patient and rewarding. They need help to deal with the child psychologically, help to deal with school, and help to deal with each other. The child needs help as well to strengthen his self-concept and to deal with the other children. With the proper psychological help, attitudes of family and educators, and the proper remediation, these children can turn out to be successful adults.