Considering the parents perspective is an interesting view.  As all parents want the same for every one of their children.  Watching them grow, whilst encouraging and supporting their dreams.  To become independent and successful in their life goals, and have a future.  That the normal line for most parents.  However, this role is more complex when they are the parent of a child or support a family member living with complex medical or disability. Both Kathryn and her brother were diagnosed with differing disabilities.  Whilst Kristopher was able to overcome many of his issues and go forward to become independent and self-sufficient.  Kathryn had a more difficult road to travel.

Initially when told your child is different there are stages of grieving for the loss of your dreams, you had for them.  It is hard to think when told that they will be different from their siblings and that this is the case.  You will go through denial, anger, depression and grief.  But there is also hope and acceptance, and going forward and learning for both you and your child.

Over these past 25 years since Kathryn was born, so many changes have occurred in all our lives.  But maybe if I share some of what I have learnt, you will know that this is a journey for both you and your child.

Learning disabilities have nothing to do with intelligence, it is just a different way the brain processes information.  One of Englands most famous Prime Ministers, Sir Winston Churchill, had learning disabilities.

One of the most significant impacts of a learning disability, though, is the psychological impact it can have on a child or teen.  Learning difficulties often carry the social stigma that manifests in behavioural issues, low self-esteem, and depression.

So, by developing strategies with teachers and at home, helps to create opportunities for success. By arranging routines with activities, homework and teach them life skills.  Enable them to develop skills through repetition and encourage positive behaviours. If the activity is too hard for them to do, simplify the task.  Encourage them to ask for help, to avoid anger and frustration.

How we develop confidence skills. We all want to succeed.  But learning new skills is often difficult for everyone.  Encouraging positive behaviours and self-confidence is an important role as a parent. Identifying ways that show your child that you trust them and in turn, they can trust you is important.  Being honest with them when you tell them “I knew you could do this’, or “I believe in you” show them you really mean it.  Asking them to help you do something or to teach you something makes them feel competent and helps in developing a healthy self-esteem about themselves. Part of supporting your children with learning disabilities succeed requires you to teach them how to speak for themselves. When a child tells others what he needs, he is more likely to learn and feel good about himself

Explaining things clearing, so your child understands you. Takes time and patience.  When teaching the skills your child needs.  Especially when they have learning disabilities. Comprehension is often difficult for them. Break down tasks and into clear and simple directions. Ensure they understand you by asking them to tell you what you said in their own words. Avoid sarcasm if your child does not understand your meaning. An example of this would be to say, “Can you pick up your toy.”  “put your toy in the box”, instead of “time to tidy up now”

When teaching your child a skill.  You start by demonstrating to them how to do it.  An example would be when cooking, you teach them how to measure the flour, and stir the mixture.  By teaching the skills they are using more sensory learning opportunities.  The same applies to teaching behaviours.  Your child will copy you if you swear or throw things when angry. By setting a good example, and demonstrating the behaviours you want your child to achieve.

Helping them succeed by telling them what to expect and how to behave in new or unfamiliar situations. Children with learning difficulties or disabilities find it difficult to understand “unspoken rules,” it is good to discuss what the expectations are. For example, if you are going to a restaurant, it may be helpful to remind your child not to run around when there. Letting your child know about a situation beforehand allows her to think through her actions and be less anxious.

Developing self-advocacy starts with encouraging independence in different ways.  Support, encourage and allow your child to answer questions for themselves.  Include them in decision making.  Talk with them, break things down to make certain they understand, and let them be part of the process.  Practice with them how to ask questions.  Nurture and encouragement goes a long way.

I look at Kathryn less than 2 years ago, not really interacting in a major way.  Not believing she had the abilities to become a leader.  Now she is achieving amazing things.