LEARNING DISABILITIES & HOMESCHOOLING—Does it work?

Disability

This article is for all those parents that are homeschooling a child with a learning disability or thinking of homeschooling a child with ADD, ADHD, APD, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or any other disability in learning.  I have been asked quite often if it is possible to successfully homeschool a child with one of these learning disabilities.  Not only is it possible, but many times preferable.  There are so many options to work with a child’s different learning style at home that there just isn’t the time or resources to handle in school.

To give some personal background, my oldest son has dyslexia like his father.  I home schooled my son successfully from beginning to end. My husband, on the other hand, went to public and private school and was just not able to keep up.  He was deathly afraid of reading out loud due to students teasing him and the teachers berating him as well.  Back when my husband was in school, dyslexia was not recognized and rarely diagnosed.  So my husband did not even hear the word or understand that he had it until he was in his mid-twenties, long after suffering through school and the torture of teachers being frustrated with his inability to learn like other students.  His teachers just felt that he was not trying hard enough, a typical way to handle situations like that 40 years ago.  At least now schools have a better understanding that learning disabilities do exist and can sometimes be helpful.

I still have heard horror stories from parents saying that the teachers complain about their child not paying attention in school and not trying hard enough.  Also, one of the main solutions that teachers often suggest is putting a child on a medication to help with their learning disability or inability to concentrate or sit still in class.  Meanwhile, many schools have taken away the morning recess and even afternoon recess that always helped those students with an overabundance of energy cope with the hours of sitting at a desk.  It is an unfortunate solution in my opinion to use drugs to solve the issue the teacher is having with a child’s high energy.  I am not saying there are not cases where the drugs can be helpful.  But let’s be honest, the difference between young boys and girls is that boys often have a lot more energy and need to move all day long. In school, the whole day is mostly geared towards sitting at a desk.  I just think drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta are being used way too often with healthy energetic boys that are having a hard time sitting still in class.  We have a whole generation of boys being drugged instead of helping them to channel all that beautiful energy in a healthy direction.  In an article published in 2014, The Drugging Of the American Boy, Ryan D’Agostino shares the alarming rate of increase in children, especially boys, being diagnosed with ADHD and being put on drugs.  Here is a link to that article http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a32858/drugging-of-the-american-boy-0414/ .

If you homeschool, you can create an environment that supports different styles of learning.  When my son was younger I did not tell him that he was dyslexic.  I had no reason to share it because I was able to assist him to learn in a way that worked best for him.  I personally did not think dyslexia was a learning disability and many are in agreement with me now that these different labels are just labels of different ways that children learn.  My husband is brilliant and so is my son.  You just will not see them learn using the model of the traditional school system.  Their learning looks very different, but just as effective.

I recently heard an interview on the radio with Peter Shankman.  He has a blog http://fasterthannormal.com/and podcasts about growing up with and being an adult with ADHD.  At the time I tuned in he was talking about the over drugging of our children and that peaked my interest.  He is not anti-drugs, just more cautious in thinking that all children that seem to learn differently or have more energy than the kid next to them, needs to be drugged to cope.  Instead he believes he was diagnosed gifted with ADHD.  I love that he has this approach.

Through my own personal experience I could see that my son and husband were also gifted with Dyslexia.  Google famous people with learning disabilities, you will be surprised who is on the list. https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/personal-stories/famous-people  This is not the curse it was once believed to be, but instead, with understanding, people are realizing that these are individuals that learn in a completely different ways than the traditional school system.  This is where homeschooling comes in.  I was able to allow my boys to move all day as they were learning.  I didn’t need to require them, especially at a young age, to sit still and listen to a teacher at the front of the classroom.  Instead their learning was very hands on and engaging for active boys.  As they got older they were sitting down and working through math and many other subjects comfortably.  I think for boys, those younger years are when their energy is just so high they need plenty of time to move and even for girls that are born with high levels of energy.  Please don’t think this is only for boys, statistically they are just diagnosed more often with ADHD and ADD, but girls can most certainly fall in all that we are referring to as well.

When my son was almost graduating high school I went to a talk on dyslexia.  The two presenters were brilliant.  They both have Phd’s and said that although they had succeeded in school, they did work twice as hard, if not more than other students.  Although they were required to read a lot for their degrees, they just had to make sure they had more time to read and to comprehend the information.  But they also believe that they were gifted with dyslexia.  It has helped both of them succeed in their chosen professions.  So instead of looking at your child as having a learning disability, I suggest looking at what strengths that gives your child.  The strengths are there and if you can help them learn that way, they will be successful learners and understand that they have not been cursed with this, but gifted instead.

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