Positive Emotions: Helping a Teen with LD Cope Better with Stress

With mounds of homework, looming SAT tests, and worries about the future – being a teen in today’s world can be incredibly stressful. Add a learning disability (LD) to the mix, and you’ve no doubt witnessed your fair share of short fuses. You can’t eliminate stress altogether for your teen – nor would you want to. But when stress is taking too high a toll, what’s the answer?

A growing body of research shows that instilling positive emotions, such as gratitude, hope, awe, and compassion, can make a big difference. Not only can it counteract the fight-or-flight stress response and improve well being, but it may also enhance the goals of traditional classroom learning.

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Excerpts from the Texas Dyslexia Handbook

Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist, shares excerpts of interest from the Texas Dyslexia Handbook (available online at https://www.region10.org/r10website/assets/File/DHBwithtabs10214.pdf)

“Texas has a long history of supporting the fundamental skill of reading. This history includes a focus on early identification and intervention for children who experience reading difficulties, including dyslexia.” and determining a student’s reading and spelling abilities and difficulties “In Texas, assessment for dyslexia is conducted from kindergarten through grade 12.”(page 6)

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5 Common Techniques for Helping Struggling Students

Teachers know that students walk into their classrooms with a wide range of abilities. But teachers try to find ways to meet the needs of all students, including those with learning and attention issues. Here are five common teaching methods.

1. Differentiated Instruction

With this approach, teachers change and switch around what students need to learn, how they’ll learn it, and how to get the material across to them. When a student struggles in one area, the teacher creates a plan that includes extra practice, step-by-step directions, and special homework. Find out more about differentiated instruction.
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Identifying Struggling Students

Early and accurate identification of learning disabilities and ADHD in schools can set struggling students on a path for success. But identification can be influenced by many factors—and too often is not happening early enough.

Not all children with learning and attention issues are identified in school as having a disability.

Students who are identified by schools as having a disability may qualify for one of two types of assistance. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) provides specially designed instruction, accommodations, modifications and related services such as speech-language therapy to students who qualify for special education. A 504 plan provides accommodations and related services to general education students who are identified with a disability but who do not need special education.

Students with IEPs or 504 plans are protected from discrimination. Schools are also required to report certain data on students who are identified as having disabilities, such as how many repeat a grade, receive out-of-school suspensions or graduate on time.

But many of the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues are not formally identified with a disability. When these children receive the right interventions and informal supports, many can succeed in general education. Without enough support, however, children with unidentified disabilities may not reach their full potential and risk falling behind and having to repeat a grade. This could lead to other problems, including dislike of school, absenteeism and dropping out.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “Your child is too smart to have an IEP.”

Fact: Intelligence has no bearing on disability or need. Even individuals with genius level IQs can have a disability that affects their ability to access the curriculum.

A student with a disability and “high cognition” can have needs (organizational skills, homework completion, social skills, counseling, and classroom behavior, etc.) that need to be addressed through special education and related services.

IDEA does not require schools to help a child reach their potential. However, OSEP does say that the school should “consider information about outside or extra learning support provided to the child”.  This would include support the family is providing directly or through tutors, assistive technology, related service providers or information on the amount of time the child spends studying and doing homework.

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Advice for Parents of Kids With Learning Disabilities

Was your child recently diagnosed with a learning or attention issue, like dyslexia or ADHD? Would you like some advice from parents who are farther along in the journey?

As part of Understood.org’s Real Parents, Tough Topics series, Understood has brought together four parents of kids with learning and attention issues. Watch their conversation as they each share “What I wish I’d known sooner” about their children’s issues, working with schools and more.