I'll Tell You All About It

A Parent Interview: Having a Child With SLD

My Child

"My son is now 14 years old. At the age of 6 years old we were told that he has Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. I knew when he was very young that my son might have a unique learning ability. My son showed early signs of this by having slow language acquisition and was more receptive than expressive. He was also slow to meet basic gross and fine motor skills. There were no official indications in our family history that our son might have a unique learning ability. There did seem to be reading and attention problems on both sides of the family, but no family members have officially been classified with any unique learning abilities before. Seeing that my son was not learning at an 'average' rate, I sought out early intervention for him at the age of 1 1/2 years."

His Education

"When my son started school, I brought my concerns to the school's attention. If not for my expressed concerns the school would have waited longer to evaluate him. My son was put on an I.E.P.. My son is now attending a private school for students with language based learning disabilities. All curriculum in all subject areas are language based. He has three English Language Arts periods per day with one being a one on one session. The classes are very small to be able to meet the needs of all students with classes having eight or fewer students. The students in his class all have similar unique learning abilities. I love the support that my son and I are given and I couldn't be more satisfied with the school. At this school my son has become more confident active learner and a better reader and writer. If my son were to be attending a public school I do not believe that he would be receiving such amazing support. I also feel that no matter how many services would be provided to him in public school he would not be developing the same positive attitudes he has. The only negative of my son attending this private school is that it is far from our home. The commute can be over two hours long round trip with traffic."
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The Future

"As a parent, of course I am worried about my son and his future. I worry about how his unique learning ability will impact his future life daily. We have learned to take life one day at a time. He is learning to compensate for his unique abilities. He has learned to use strategies to help him work around any challenges he may face, but he will always be dyslexic and dysgraphic. It is just the way he has been wired, not something that can be 'cured'. I feel that the biggest social issue my son faces is, because we chose to have him attend a private school for is unique learning abilities, his close circle of friends are widely dispersed and not in our local community. This would not be the case if he were to have attended a public school. This issue is an outcome of his school location and not from being classified as a special education student. Although I am a parent and worry about my son, this fact gives me hope for his future."

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My Advice

"If I were to give any advice to other parents and family of children with unique learning abilities, it would be to, above all else, educate yourself. Learn about your child's specific disabilities, learn the laws concerning your child, and learn the school processes. Do not underestimate the importance and power of knowing your child's rights. Advocate for your child, it is your job as a parent and they depend on you. Hold your child's school accountable for their responsibility to provide Free Appropriate Public Education (F.A.P.E.). And when things get tough or too complicated, surround yourself with experts in the field who are not emotionally connected that will guide you in the right direction that best suits the needs of your child. Also remember to lean on your friends and family for love and support in difficult times. You can do this. For your child you will do this. I know."

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Thoughts From The Interviewer

From this interview I have a few great take aways to keep in mind as a teacher and as a possible future parent of a child with a unique learning ability. First, I learned that it is most important to embrace your child and to remember that the learning disability is what they have, not who they are. I learned that it is important to be an advocate for children and to do whatever is needed to help them be successful. I have also learned the importance of knowing your students or your own child and their unique learning abilities, so that early detections can be made and interventions put in place if necessary. Lastly, from this interview, I have gained insight on how emotional these things can be for families. I now know how important it is to help provide appropriate support to my students, their families, and my own future children. The unique learning abilities some children might have do not have to be a hindrance or a burden, but can be a gift that makes each child special, unique, and beautiful.