It is important to nurture a child’s perception of themselves as a learner. This can become complicated by a neurological condition like ADHD and associated conditions, such as learning differences.
These differences, which some people refer to as a disability or a disorder are the result of neurological wiring which alters how the brain functions. Making it difficult to learn the skills appropriate for an individual's age, intelligence and education.
The reality is that if a parent, caregiver or teacher is unaware of a child's brain wiring being different, they might see a capable, talented child not trying hard enough. But, this could not be further from the truth.
A child with ADHD / LD often exerts great effort to complete difficult tasks. Yet without adequate supports these children falter, often having no idea why. It can be confusing and sometimes distressing, to continually experience difficulty at school. Living with neurological difference increasingly makes it difficult to learn, strive and thrive - without appropriate support.
Self-knowledge is a critical step
A lack an understanding about their learning challenges can increase the risk of children developing depression or an anxiety disorder. Symptoms of frustration and negative feelings can also include; defying parents and teachers, lashing out at siblings and peers, ignoring rules, crying easily, preferring to be alone, developing sleep and/or eating issues, biting nails or picking skin and suffering complaints such as stomach aches and headaches.
Managing your emotions
It can be difficult talking to your children about ADHD / LD for fear that talking about ‘it’ makes a child feel different. You are not alone in this experience - many of us have travelled the same path.
We know that acknowledging your child has ADHD / LD can result in feelings of guilt or shame. It might also trigger memories of personal challenges with learning differences. Resulting in a reluctance to discuss, mention or even pursue a formal diagnosis. Avoiding talking about ADHD / LD can foster a sense of denial, inhibiting you and your child, from seeking the help you need. LADS can support you and your family through this process. Below are some suggestions about how you might discuss this with your child.
Starting the conversation
When discussing your child's learning differences, it is critical to explain what the condition is—and what it is not. You may need to counter myths and misconceptions about the particular condition ("It goes away"; "It means I'm stupid"; "I'll never be able to read"), this is an important time to clarify and correct this misinformation. If you do not provide information and support to counter the negativity, they are likely to believe what they hear at school, on the bus or in the media.
- Remember to emphasize their strengths and passions, do not simply focus on the difficulties. Attempt to strike a balance between what they can do and what is difficult for them. Expressing optimism about their development and future.
- Emphasize the fact this situation exists through no fault or choice of the child's. Explain that learning is a particular challenge for them and that it may take longer and they might need to take a different route, to finish the race.
- Discuss some learning struggles and challenges that you faced during your school years and outline the solutions and strategies that you used at those times.
- It can be useful to mention people the child knows as inspirational examples: "Did you know that ……… had a lot of trouble in school and had to repeat Year 12”. But now they have a great job at ………
Learn about the metaphor used to describe complex brain functions so children can understand ADHD / LD and how it makes learning difficult. Click Here
Further information and support is available by contacting LADS information and support line.