Learning Disabilities

I am a chatter box. I have a lot of conversations, in my travels through my daily day. I have, at times, heard a lot of misinformation about learning disabilities. So I’m going to give every one some super BASIC info on learning disabilities. Knowledge is power man. That way you don’t look like a ding dong when you are stating something at a wine and cheese party.

AUTISM

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Autism Speaks defines Autism as:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

I was at a store the other day and they were asking for dollar donations to find a “cure” for Autism. Hm… So what you should know is that Autism is not a disease, it was a way the brain develops. No one needs to be cured. I’m sure this store has all the best intentions in the world and I applaud their efforts. Yes, they need to be extra supported, listened to, and accommodated at times.  But Autistic kids don’t need to be cured.

Whatever you think you know about what a person on the spectrum can or can’t do, is probably incorrect. That is why “spectrum” is the perfect descriptive word.

I know this from experience, because personally someone on the spectrum has..

  • Drained jump shots in my face
  • Beat me in Chess
  • Taught me to make french toast
  • Made me cry from watching them sing on stage.
  • Taught me how to whip and nae nae
  • Encouraged me to keep running while we are out jogging
  • Thrown water balloons at me from an upstairs window
  • Beat me in Wii dance
  • Reminded me of my exact promise I stated two weeks ago
  • Worried about my kids when they are sick
  • Brought me flowers when I came back from maternity leave
  • Laughed at me when I fell over a bench playing ultimate frisbee
  • Taught me a level of patience, humility, and compassion that I did not have prior to knowing this community.
  • If you have seen one Autistic kid, you have seen one Autistic kid.
  • Every one is different and that’s okay.

ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects children and teens and can continue into adulthood. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. Kids with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses. Or they may have trouble paying attention. These behaviors interfere with school and home life.

It’s more common in boys than in girls. It’s usually discovered during the early school years, when a child begins to have problems paying attention.

Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals, and holding down a job. They may also have problems with relationships self-esteem, and addiction.

Tufts Health insurance does not cover testing for ADHD. As they do not see it is “medically necessary.” Now I don’t know if they just don’t want anything to do with it because people are always trying to get controlled meds and abuse them. Sell them. Which sucks. But man I need to bring Tufts health reps to work with me one day and be like “okay if by the end of the day you can tell me ADHD testing is not medically necessary.” Good luck with that.

Is it over diagnosed? Probably. But I don’t have the criteria for my opinion to matter on that one.

All drugs aside, if you feel like your brain or your child’s brain is ADHD here are my little TIPS you really should be focusing on:

EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE:

Best case scenario you get your ADHD kid into sports. Let them try everything. Soccer, Basketball, Running, Golf, Gymnastics, Dance, Cheerleading. Whatever they are interested in. Get involved. Get them excited. BURN OFF THEIR ENERGY. Get them hyper focused on working out. It will help improve mood and help them go to sleep at night.

SLEEP!!

Turning your brain off at the end of the day may be very hard. Make a night time routine. Force yourself to go to bed. Consistent sleep patterns will save your kids life. Have them hand in the electronics to you at 9 PM. Then make them go to their room. They don’t even have to go to sleep, but they have to follow a routine that signals their brain that it’s time to calm down.

Don’t FALL asleep watching TV!

If your kid is telling you he needs the TV to fall asleep. Say no. Instead have him listen to music with head phones while laying in bed. TV is too stimulating. He will stay up too late continuing to watch, only falling asleep when he is completely exhausted.

Instead, listen to pandora stations. It makes your mind stop running with your own thoughts. But your eyes are closed and it’s dark. Works like a charm.

They even have podcasts now that some guy tells very boring stories. You listen to it, and it works so well, I tried it!

Schedules 

Consistency will save your life. Daily schedules decrease anxiety of what is going to happen. Sets your kid up for success.

“That does suck honey, but still NO.”

Show your kid some support and understanding as he is facing challenges. Don’t dismiss it. But, still make them do it themselves. Figure it out for themselves. Don’t let them use their learning disability as a crutch. Don’t do things for them.

Basically, don’t let them off the hook. “Well, you know, Michael has ADHD so he can’t control himself.” Wrong.

“It is MUCH harder for Michael to control himself. It has been so challenging for us to work on ways for him to calm down.”

I only say this because on a daily basis for five years I have seen students with learning disabilities be given tasks that their parents swore they “couldn’t do” and I watched them rise to the occasion.

Sometimes we handicap the people we love most.  It is most definitely a delicate balance.

Wow, that got deep fast.

Always ask for help!

Reach out to people. Seek counseling. Read books. Utilize services. Enlist the help of an advocate if you are feeling overwhelmed. No one is ever alone.

But who am I to tell you what to do? Just some friendly suggestions and information.

Special Olympics

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Donate Here: Special Olympics Donations


 

Britt is a Beach bum, Mom, Wife, Sister, Friend, Wanna be Photographer, Special needs advocate, Library enthusiast, Yogi, Mom blogger.

Britt lives in a barn on Cape Cod with her husband, two toddlers, and stinky black lab. You can read more of her adventures at You’re Somebody’s MOTHER.

Or if you have a short attention span, follow her on Instagram @somebodys_mother

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