Students with learning differences are faced with daily challenges. The first and most obvious one is the ability to learn and keep up academically in the classroom. And, of course, homework battles are at the top of the list for both students and parents. But, all too often students with learning differences suffer at the hands of their peers.
Often parents are unaware of the tormenting that their kids are enduring in school. Kids don’t want to talk about it – it’s too embarrassing to admit to being the recipient of bullying. And, even worse, the embarrassment of having mom or dad show up at school to fight yet another battle for them, leaves students suffering silently.
School bullying is real. And, if a child is pulled out of class for “special” help, peers can take notice and be cruel. And, all too often students with learning differences have no place to turn for help. Names are called, and sometimes even worse. This is a daily nightmare for these students and should be prevented at all costs.
School should be a safe place for all children. But all too often any student who is different in any way can be a target.
If your child already has a label or if you are thinking about going through the process of labeling your child, then consider the following advice.
1. Be aware of IEP’s. Understand that an IEP can give your child special help, but it usually happens in a pull-out fashion. Your child will miss important class instruction and guided practice time. Even worse, the other kids will know where your child is going, and your child could end up as the target of bullying and name calling. Also, understand that an IEP is a legally binding document, and it is very difficult to exit a child out of an IEP once the process is in place. A team of people must be in agreement that the exit is of value to your child.
2. Don’t stand by silently thinking that it will all blow over. A student who is labeled is a student who may be getting help but also may be suffering because of it. If your child is miserable, then there is a reason for this. Talk to the principal and teacher. Switch schools if need be. Volunteer in the classroom and see firsthand what is going on in your child’s school life. Eat lunch with your child and observe what is going on. Is your child being included in conversations and games? Or is your child excluded from the social environment that takes place?3. Empower your child in non-academic ways. Martial arts is very good for students who are suffering from name calling and bullying. Students become empowered to take control of their lives, and often focusing and confidence issues improve.
So many things can snowball out of control when your child has a learning difference. But, last of all, never give up hope. There is help available for your child. And, never give up on your child. All children have something they can give and can be taught to learn and succeed socially.