When I graduated high school, I was terrified. I should have felt happy and proud of my Regents diploma. It was a huge accomplishment, especially for someone who went from failing to honors. My family was proud, but all I could feel was anxiety. I knew I was broken somehow but didn’t feel like I could talk about it. I had no idea how to advocate for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate everything my parents have done for me. There were always extra stresses, and they didn’t have nearly as many resources as there are today. They did a fantastic job with what they had. I will always be proud to be their daughter, but I now have the luxury of time to see some of what I needed.
I’ve found most information about learning disabilities for parents circulated through social media only addresses current struggles. While I understand the need to get through the moment, kids need to learn early on how to effectively speak up for themselves.
This can take shape in many ways. Here are a couple ideas:
- For older kids, fully involve them with post-high school plans. Do they want to go to college? Research with them. Is college not for them? Point them at resources about work programs or internships. Then look at disability accommodations together.
- Listen if they’re having trouble at school with teachers or bullying. Discuss possible courses of action with them (taking into account, of course, age and development), then carry through as partners.
Understood.org and other similar websites have excellent resources that could help with this issue.
I’m not speaking as a parent, but as a child with disabilities who has grown up. Learning self-advocacy early on will make adult years easier and may prevent some heartache.