If more of us actually knew the signs of learning and attention disorders, I do not think that so many children would go undiagnosed every single year. It is so sad that we as a community are so uneducated about what those signs are. One in five children struggles with issues related to reading, math, writing, focus, organization and behavioral issues, yet many children with learning and attention issues do not have a diagnosis.
If you are a parent, a friend or family member who thinks that a child might be going through learning and attention disorders, you are not alone in this. There are five learning and attention issues that are most common:
- ADHD: More Than Moving Fast
- Dyslexia: The Best-Known Learning Issue
- Dyscalculia: More Than Math Anxiety
- Dysgraphia: Wrestling With Writing
- Dyspraxia: Trouble With Motor Skills
With the right diagnosis, parents and teachers are better able to understand what their children are going through. This leads to a better understanding of the help that they need in order to be successful. When a child is able to fully understand and overcome whatever struggles they are facing, they will finally feel normal.
The #BeUnderstood campaign was created support of Learning Disabilities (LD) Awareness Month in October, and to raise awareness about kids with learning and attention issues. These issues are a lot more common than most people think, and while learning and attention issues may not be as visible as other health issues, they’re just as real.
The goal of #BeUnderstood is to generate awareness about learning and attention issues and encourage people who are seeing or experiencing signs of learning and attention issues to visit Understood.org, learn about these issues, and take that crucial first step in getting their kids the help they need to thrive in school, at home and in life.
I think that there is a stigma that goes along with a diagnosis too, so people are afraid to say that their child has a disorder of any kind. But I don’t think that is the right way to think about it. Getting a diagnosis means getting help; getting help means success for the child, period. And getting help could mean anything from simply being more educated on the resources and actions that you could take to help a child, to actually seeing a medical professional. Help has many definitions.
I have had lots of personal experience with attention and learning disorders. Both of my kids, my husband and even my niece have had issues with education and behavior due to undiagnosed disorders. My husband suffered from dyslexia as a child and even now as an adult. He is 39 years old, so back when he was in school there really was no help for that. Kids would get left behind, called lazy, and punished for something that just really wasn’t understood.
My son is incredibly smart but struggles with attention. For so many years he was the kid that would get in trouble in class for talking, moving in his seat, fidgeting or needing to get up and move around. When really, all of that was simply helping him learn. While most of us can really only focus easily on one thing at a time, kids like my son and my niece who have borderline or full on ADD or ADHD have a hard time focusing on just one thing. It may seem like they aren’t listening or paying attention, but they probably are, much more than you might think. It is all about being educated and knowledgeable about what we can do to help them succeed, not punish them.
And when they get older, like my son, they tend to put a lot of stress and pressure on themselves. This can lead to anxiety and even depression. This is absolutely not something that any child should have to go through, ever. My daughter struggled for years to catch up after being left behind at home, and although she does well today, she has to work much harder than most kids her age to maintain her GPA.
- Interactive Quizzes: to determine what might be happening with your child
- Through Your Child’s Eyes: A series of interactive simulations and videos that enable parents to experience firsthand how smart people can struggle with a seemingly simple task when they have reading, writing, math, organization or attention issues.
- Tech Finder: Expert-approved apps and games searchable by a child’s grade and issues.
- Just For You: An opt-in system that provides additional levels of personalized content recommendations. (Parents don’t need to sign in to start getting customized recommendations on Understood; all they need to do to hit the ground running is check the boxes about their child’s grade and issues.) Parents who choose to complete a secure, confidential profile will receive recommendations for each child in their profile as well as for topics they’ve expressed interest in, such as siblings, travel and communicating with family and friends.
- Decision Guide: Key questions to help parents think through big topics, such as whether it’s time to request a formal evaluation, let a child start dating or decide which path to pursue after high school.
Encouragement and interaction can go a long way in helping all kids. As busy parents it is sometimes hard to come up with things to keep our kids from getting “brain drain” over the holiday breaks. There are lots of fun ways to encourage kids to keep learning, even while they’re not in class.
Maybe you are a parent of a struggling child, or even a friend or family member who is watching the struggle from afar. Understood has resources for everyone to learn how to help these kiddos face these challenges. The You & Your Family section helps families with practical solutions and advice for social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Having the gift of extra time with your child over the holidays means the opportunity to help them overcome whatever struggles they are facing.