By Rexanne Mancini
There are so many learning labels floating around these days ... A.D.D., A.D.H.D., Dyslexia, etc. Basically, these are labels pinned on children who are in some way learning disabled. I think most of these kids are learning advanced, but I'll try to stick to the facts ... somewhat ... ;-)
Children who cannot sit still or are disruptive in a classroom environment are sometimes suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) When they are also extremely hyper, they earn the tag of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (A.D.H.D.) When children are prone to twisting their letters and numbers around, they are often called Dyslexic.
There are definitely some children who need medication to control their out-of-control emotions or actions. There are some who have a serious chemical imbalance, preventing them from blending with others in a socially acceptable manner. And there are the kids who really have a hard time keeping numbers straight or learning to read in a typical classroom setting with standard teaching methods. These children are learning disabled in that they do need resources and other methods to help them learn basic lessons and needed skills such as reading, writing, adding and subtracting.
These wonderfully different kids are also usually very bright, artistic and unusual in amazing ways. They can be willful, temperamental and sad or they can be sweet, loving and joyful. I believe they are what we, their parents and caretakers, teach them they should be. I also believe they are a big part of our future, among the children of this world who will be our brightest stars. They are the kids who do not see everything in terms of black and white or up and down. They see blue, purple and fuchsia where everyone else sees the norm. They hear melodies not yet created. They envision buildings not yet designed. They are learning disabled only because they do not learn as the majority of us do. They see life through a set of eyes and ears not limited by structure or regimentation. They feel and capture life with fingers that expound the essence of velvet and toes that glorify the silkiness of sand. They feel sadness and joy through hearts that swell with the beauty of sunsets and melt with compassion for the underdog.
These children are the different ones among us. They should be honored for their uniqueness. Unfortunately, they are more likely to be labeled and boxed into a problem corner, snuffing out their bright lights and destroying their self-esteem at a tender age.
We have known and still know quite a few of these different kids. I don't know one child who is not amazingly bright in one or more areas of life that most of us are stymied by. They are exceptional artists, musically genius, enormously big-hearted or mature beyond their years. One is on Ritalin and thanks his mother daily for giving him the chance to get straight 'A's as he always knew he could. One is an outstanding athlete who will most likely make the Olympic team in the not-too-distant future. Another is an accomplished pianist and songwriter at 12 years of age. All of these children have some pretty wicked learning disabilities and they are all just the best kids one could hope to know and love. They are awesome!
Some public schools have excellent resource programs for the learning disabled child. Most private schools do not have the room or the inclination to support a resource curriculum, however, there are private schools that cater only to learning disabled children. These schools can be frightfully expensive but many are the only hope some children will ever have for academic success. One girl we know came home from her first day at one of these high-priced schools elated and said: "I'm finally learning something!" Wow ... her mother told me this with tears in her eyes. This school has a variety of classroom environments, each supporting a different learning style. Their philosophy is that children learn differently, be it auditory, visual (the normal school methods cater to visual) or tactile. The children are grouped with other like-learning kids to create auditory, visual or tactile-learning classrooms. Obviously, they are on to something.
Parents with learning disabled children need to work with their kids, helping with homework and assignments more than average. If you are the parent of a learning disabled child, there are resources available today that were not around just a few years ago. Know that there is help for your child and for you. Ask your child's school about resource programs, recommended methods of working with your child at home and any other useful information they can and will give you. And remember that your child is probably going to grow up to become one of the more valued members of society if they are gently guided and helped through the beginning years of academic training.
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