NOTE: October is Learning Disabilities/ADHD/Dyslexia Awareness Month
Blog by: Sheryl L. Goldstein, a parent advocate
I grew up with a learning disability (LD). It isn’t a secret, but I don’t normally share such personal information with everyone. I’ve grown to understand that the learning disability is only part of a student’s challenge.
I didn’t let my disability stop me from achieving many goals, although my educational issues created insecurities that led me to believe I wasn’t able to achieve at times. This belief caused me to feel down about myself, and that, in turn, led to poor self-esteem.
I graduated from high school, graduated from college with honors, and then found a job. Though I am certainly not the only person in the country to achieve these milestones, I am nonetheless proud of how far I have come despite what many had predicted for me.
Times have changed, including our understanding of disabilities, but often it feels like our educational system hasn’t. My own children are now facing similar challenges to mine. As their mother, I am learning as much as I can about their disabilities and what they need in order to be successful in school and beyond. It is only natural for a mother to want better for her children, but watching my children endure the same struggles I did has shown me that my children need better.
I am their biggest advocate.
Based on my own experiences and my children’s struggles with their public school, I’ve learned about the importance of school choice and options, particularly for children with disabilities.
I’ve also learned that many parents struggle to get their children what they need despite having medical diagnoses or documented disabilities, such as dyslexia, autism, LD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other mental health conditions.
Most parents usually know their children and how they learn best. Some parents like me find that traditional public schools cannot meet their child’s individual needs and choose an alternative method for their child’s education. But, too often, parents who obtain needed educational programs and services for their children understand the complex systems related to education or they have access to the best resources. What about the parents who do not have access to these resources?
The education system, student and their family should work together to find the best and most suitable educational setting for the student if a student is struggling. We all have different learning styles and talents. The notion that there ought to be choice and a variety of options for elementary and secondary education should be a no-brainer, especially for those struggling to fit into a traditional class setting.
I believe in providing students with what they need to be successful. I also believe that the American education system needs to improve on how it recognizes that each student has different needs.
For us to progress as a nation, it is imperative that we educate parents about how to identify when their child is struggling, what their child’s rights are under Federal and State laws, and to not to be afraid to ask for help and seek appropriate services.
NOTE: “Do you have a child with a disability? The Office of Special Education Programs provides funds to Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs). There is at least one PTI in each State. Please visit the Parent Center Hub to find your state’s center.”
Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees, and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. Articles do not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy