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Why Don't I Understand?  Coping with Learning Disabilities

If your teen has been diagnosed with a learning disability, you are no doubt filled with a variety of emotions:  sadness that he has a problem, concern about his future, maybe even relief that you now know what is wrong.  As you work through your emotions, it is also important that you work toward creating the best environment for his special challenges.

The first step towards this is an IEP, which stands for Individual Educational Plan. Talk with your teen's school about developing a plan for him to be able to learn in the environment most suited to his needs.  This is your child's right under federal law, so do not allow yourself to be stonewalled.

If you already have an IEP, the other issue that you have to cope with is your teen's sense of feeling different or damaged.  It is critical that you help your teen play to his strengths.  Emphasize that, while he may have difficulties in one area of his life, he has many strengths, too.  Work with him to find out something he feels he excels in and encourage him to pursue that course.

Insist that others around your teen, treat him with respect.  Make sure his teachers and other school personnel focus on his potential to succeed rather than his limitations.  Don't let anyone pigeon hole him into a box because of his disabilities.

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