Shelly Weisbacher, former Executive Director of Springer School and Center, wrote a compelling blog series. Wanting success for our children has been and will continue to be at the forefront of our minds. Let’s remind ourselves of some key success factors for children with learning disabilities.
In parenting or teaching a child with learning disabilities, it is important to be able to look to the future while addressing the issues of the moment. We know that learning disabilities are life span issues. We also know that many adults with learning disabilities are leading happy, productive lives. What then contributes to the success of adults with learning disabilities and how might one foster these success attributes in our children?
Through longitudinal studies spanning more than twenty years, the Frostig Center in California has identified six factors that predict successful life outcomes for individuals with learning disabilities. The factors include self-awareness, proactivity, perseverance, goal-setting, presence and use of support systems, and emotional coping strategies. These are not static factors that one either possesses or not; they can be nurtured and developed.
Let’s take a look at the first factor, self-awareness. Our experience at Springer and the Frostig Center’s research find that students who demonstrate self-awareness understand their strengths and challenges in academic as well as non-academic settings. They recognize and can speak to the impact their learning disabilities or attention issues have on them academically, socially, and emotionally. Yet, they are also very able to see their learning disability as only a part of who they are.
Having worked with many families, we know that a first step in helping your child develop self-awareness is accepting the reality of your child’s learning disability and gaining comfort in talking about it. From there, you will be able to help your child sort out what she does well, what is difficult, and why it is difficult. In this way, your child will look to you as an ally in his growing self-awareness.