When you have dysgraphia you would welcome brain surgery if it helped. Thank you Doug Savage for permission to use your cartoons.
Could not figure out what I was writing. Here’s how the first sentence should read. This is what much of my writing looks like when my brain gets its own way with me.
I only discovered that I had dysgraphia when my sons were diagnosed with it by a very smart psychologist. I am luckier than most for my dysgraphia did not come attached to dyslexia as it often does. I think that was partly because at the time I was learning to read children were being taught to sight read. Although that could be a mistake on my part; anyway I was not taught phonics and have an awful time sounding out strange words.
Parenting tip one: Know when to start worrying. The emphasis on the importance of academic success puts great pressure on parents, teachers, and children. The wish is that all can make A’s and get into a top college and then go on to get advanced degrees and win the Nobel Prize in medicine or physics.
First reality check: the odds of anyone winning one of those Nobel Prizes is probably larger than winning a mega lottery without even buying a ticket.
Second reality check: winning the Nobel Peace prize is a greater accomplishment, but sill like winning the mega lottery even when you buy a ticket.
Third reality check: Pressuring kids to achieve academic success only works for the 25% of all kids lucky enough to be born with the necessary resources including a safe environment, good school and the talents needed to be successful in school from day one. Hurrah for those lucky ones, but the rest need help not pressure. .
Jerome Kagan, leading child development researcher, says by the third grade, students have ranked themselves academically and not accurately. Put simply he notes that by the third grade kids rank themselves and others as top student, good student, dumb student. Note there is no average student. Guess what the learning disabled student thinks about his or her ability?
So when to worry about the possibility of any learning disability? For academic problems take your time. Learning reading, writing, and arithmetic happens for different kids at different times. Some do not master the basic skills until near the end of the second grade. If, however, the child is very unhappy in school or teachers express concern, think about an evaluation. The earlier a learning disability is diagnosed the better.
That said a few other things are worth worrying about early on. Most experts say worry a bit about these things in a pre-schooler:
- Delayed speech – but do remember Einstein did not speak until he was three-years-old
- Poor concentration
- Difficulty following directions
- Difficulty with buttoning, zipping, and tying
From my experiences with children, mine and others ,I would also add:
- difficulty putting age appropriate puzzles together
- difficulty coloring between the lines
Parenting tip two: Get competent professional help. Try to get a psychologist not affiliated with a school. The money you might have to spend will be well worth it. School psychologists have a school based agenda and once a child has been diagnosed can be helpful, but not necessarily before. Many hired by schools are either not eager to say a child has a learning disability or too eager to cast that label on a child. Why? Funding of Learning Disabled students varies from school to school and as was noted by Jerry Macquire – “Follow the money.”
If you cannot afford a private psychologist, go to your local mental health clinic and request their help.
Parenting tip three: Develop an Added Care Team and make sure to include an educational advocate for yourself and one for your child. Again, schools will often offer advocates, many are helpful, but a few lean toward the school’s needs rather than your child’s needs.
Parenting tip four: Know what matters and teach the same to your child. Contrary to the idea that academic success leads to the good life, research shows that what Daniel Goleman popularized as Emotional Intelligence matters more. Why I founded Emotional Fitness Training, Inc. To teach a child what matters you must:
- Help him or her learn to self-sooth. Starts with getting you newborn to go to sleep on his or her own; then moves on to dealing with pain which is the subject of one of my recent blog posts. Hone your self-soothing skills so you can stay patient and calm as your child struggles with learning to make in it the real world.
- Once a child starts walking and talking, the next step is teaching manners.
- And at any age focusing on what matters matters; particularly important with teens and pre-teens.
Parenting tip five: Open many roads to success. In addition to pressure to achieve academically, our culture is star focused. Don’t think so – think about the salaries of athletes, movie stars, social media stars. To combat this:
- Emphasize the pleasures and not the outcomes of sports or performing.
- Encourage trying things for the fun of it.
- Help all your children find hobbies that give pleasure. Reading was one of mine.
- Encourage practice of Emotional Fitness Training’s Easy Exercises.
Mark Katz a psychologist friend who specializes in learning disabilities wrote a great book On Playing a Poor Hand Well about helping kids with learning struggles. I see you can get it used for less than a movie costs. Worth it even at the full price.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO
Remember’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness right now is to share this post with someone who will find it inspiring. Thank you.
This word press daily prompt inspired this post – Land of confusion: Which subject in school did you find impossible to master? Did math give you hives? Did English make you scream? Do tell!
Actually, another learning disability was and remains impossible for me to master, Math. I have trouble remember numbers and formulas and my dysgraphia also interferes. My English teachers appreciated the way I thought despite my mistakes. For Math teachers there was always a right answer and a wrong one, particularly in the early grades. The result for me meant missing many recesses being drilled or standing at the black board, shamed and defeated.
So if you or your child have hate math, you might want to explore this learning disablity. Dyscalculia.