Friday, March 27, 2009

Diagnosis:LD - What's next?

Before reading further, please note that the information presented here is purely cursory based on some online research. It is not intended to replace professional advice or treatment! Thank you.

Kiran of karmickids has dedicated March to raise an awareness for Learning Disabilities (LD). Thanks to Kiran, Tharini and the other wonderful women for making me a part of this mission.

There are oh, so many variations of LD and warning signs that Tharini has carefully explained. Not to mention people who have non-verbal LD. Then there are those who can have LD And be Gifted at the same time - Gifted in one area, and have a disability in another...

Considering that there are so many variations of LD, and so many symptoms, a proper diagnosis is of utmost importance. Only a trained specialist can single out the kind of disability a child has.
To confirm that your child is not a late-bloomer and indeed has a disability, do consult a Developmental Pediatrician, a child psychologist, or a neuro-psychologist. Age and severity are very critical factors when treating LD.

If your parental instincts ring a warning bell, wait no further! Take action immediately!

Once you have a diagnosis, what's next? Is there a cure for LD? It depends on how we define "cure"! If a cure to you means ensuring a successful, independent life for your child, then ABSOLUTELY YES!! With proper help and guidance, your child can learn to adapt to living with LD and go on to accomplish their dreams. I prefer to use "Managing" rather than "Treating" LD.

Here are some options -
  1. Any site I checked emphasized on - "EARLY EARLY EARLY!" Early Intervention! Because otherwise, it can have a snowballing effect - if not intervened early on, the child can get frustrated at lagging behind, and that can lead to severe self-esteem problems, and it will take much longer to undo this damage!

  2. If your child is in elementary school, then Sign your child up for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is available in most schools in the U.S. Most schools even have free pre-school IEP programs for qualifying children, to give these kids a head-start.

  3. If your child is diagnosed with having ADHD in addition to LD, then medication can be prescribed to help control symptoms.

  4. Because each child is unique, what works for one may not work for another. Figure out your child's special talent or interest and focus on those, because doing that can help tremendously. You can use them to your advantage and tailor your teaching techniques to keep your child's attention longer.

  5. You should also determine your child's learning style - whether it is VISUAL, AUDITORY, or using KINESTHETICS.
    Based on this use appropriate tools and activities to help them learn.
    Visual learners process everything as images or pictures. They can draw or write well. Use Picture books or Videos to teach.
    Auditory learners process information when they listen to something (they are good listeners). They enjoy being read to, and like interaction.
    Talk to them, discuss issues, and have debates to stimulate them.
    Kinesthetic learners process information through touch. They typically do well in sports or drama. They may have difficulty sitting still, so keep them active and in motion if possible.

  6. Communicate often with your child's teacher not only to benchmark progress, but also to know what's being done in the classroom. You can follow the same methods at home and keep the consistency for your child.

  7. Make a Homework routine and stick to it as much as you can. A set routine helps children in focusing better and also teaches them to be better organized when they grow up.

  8. You may also try breathing or focusing exercises.
    They nourish the body with hundreds of times more Oxygen than with regular, shallow breathing. It may be difficult at first, so start with 1 deep breath and slowly build it to 15 minutes a day or more.

  9. Genuinely appreciate every little success your child has, and every milestone your child crosses!

  10. Show your child that nobody's perfect, including you. Seeing that you are not perfect gives them better confidence. It also helps them know that you can learn from mistakes.

  11. If your child is older - in Middle School Or even High School, you still have various options to control LD. Most of this requires planning and organizing - well ahead of time.

  12. If older children are able to identify their interests and pursue an appropriate field, they will be more successful.

  13. Science has made great advances in the research and treatment options for LD.
    Dr. Norman Doidge suggests that software like "Fast ForWord" help stimulate the auditory cortex neurons and help children with auditory processing problems.
    His book titled, The Brain that Changes Itself, talks about how the brain can be stimulated under the right conditions. Dr. Doidge also recommends the programs in The Arrowsmith School for their approach toward LD and other similar conditions.

  14. Natural Therapy is also suggested as a treatment option, with virtually no side effects. You need to find a good Natural Practitioner who understands your needs well and can help appropriately. Some well-known herbal remedies are recommended for increased concentration, brain functioning, and memory. Other homeopathic ingredients including a variety of biochemic tissue salts are also prescribed.

For Parents: If you are unable to cope, know that you are not alone. Find a support group to get ideas, share comfort, or simply talk.

Here are some useful links I used in summing up options for children with LD...If I've missed any, that's not intentional :)