Education is a passion of mine. As a first grade teacher, I have the honor of teaching children to read. I truly love my job. I also have the unique role of developing a relationship with parents and their children, and I have witnessed first hand how hard it is when a child struggles to learn. Sometimes it is for developmental reasons (e.g, a child just isn’t ready yet), other times there are true challenges that require interventions, tests, and ultimately diagnoses in order to help each child reach his or her potential. This can be emotional, difficult, and require a great deal of strength on the part of mom and dad. As parents and teachers, we want the best for our children, and it can be hard to hear that learning is not coming easily for your child.
The month of March focuses on bringing attention to the different types of learning differences through Learning Disability Awareness. Some of the common types of learning disabilities include:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
- Sensory Integration Disorder
- Visual/Auditory Processing Disorder
- Executive Functioning Disorder
One of the reasons that I am particularly drawn to spreading awareness about different types of learning disabilities is because I truly believe being diagnosed with a learning disability does NOT mean that one CAN’T learn, it simply means that we learn a little different from most people.
I say we because I have personally been diagnosed with a common learning disability, Attention Deficit Disorder. People close to me either already know this or aren’t surprised to find out that yes, I am ADD. And not in one of the, “Oh, I’m so having an ADD moment!” type of way.
Learning was never a true problem during most of my elementary school years because I went to a small school and truthfully, I was not a behavior problem. I was happy sitting in class, daydreaming off into the distance. I always loved when my seat was near the window because there was just so much to see outside! Middle school was a little harder, but by the time I reach high school, tutors were necessary. Even subjects that used to come easily (history, english) started to provide a significant challenge. I had a hard time focusing and keeping up with the teaching that was happening in front of me. Again, I went to a small school and it wasn’t possible for me to “slip through the cracks”, so I worked hard, my teachers and parents were very involved, and I managed to get into a small liberal arts college. I thought this would be a good fit because I knew I needed the attention of my teachers and that I would likely get lost at a big state school.
As it turns out, even the small college setting proved to be a challenge for me. By the second semester of my freshman year, I was falling behind on assignments, frustrated with the lectures, and struggling to keep up with reading. My advisor and college professor called me in for a meeting and said that after having me in class for a semester and a half, he was concerned and thought that I needed to consider being tested for Attention Deficit Disorder, as I was displaying classic symptoms. I was devastated but made an appointment with a psychologist to see if there was any truth to this theory. After a series of tests, the results were loud and clear. I was a “classic” female with ADD: I wasn’t hyperactive, but my inability to focus was affecting my ability to learn.
I have read countless books about ADD (well, maybe not the whole book, but I’ve started a lot of them). I have talked to doctors and have, at some points, taken medication to help me. I have cried due to frustration when I can’t find something. I can be very frustrating to be around and work with because I misplace things like it’s my job. I have a messy house and time management is a real challenge. I try my best to stay on top of deadlines. I have spent countless hours searching for my keys and have found my cell phone in the refrigerator… multiple times… at work. But, having ADD can be a very pleasant thing too. I’m easily entertained and I really like to drive because I can think about all sorts of things in my head. As I type this there is a ton going on around me, but I don’t even notice. Children and I get along well, probably because I like their energy and keeping up with them keeps me busy. I think it oddly helps me be a better teacher because I know that many times children aren’t purposely trying to lose things or forget things, it just happens as their brains are developing. My lessons aren’t long and I move quickly. I can have long conversations about nothing at all. I have a great job, I manage to help keep this blog running, I am a consultant for Rodan+Fields, and in general, consider my life a pretty good one. So does ADD define me? Not at all. And it’s my hope that if you’ve read this rambling post, you will understand that learning disabilities don’t define children, it’s just part of who they are, and there is help for those facing challenges.
Throughout the month of March, we will be bringing you a series of posts pertaining to Learning Disabilities as part of our partnership with Brain Balance Center of North San Antonio. This innovative and research-based center is designed to help children facing a variety of challenges, including learning disabilities, and I wish it would have been around 15 years ago when I was diagnosed. Although Brain Balance has not even been open a year here in San Antonio, their amazing staff and treatment center has helped a multitude of children. Lead by momtrenpreneur Amanda Petter and her husband Zach, we will be featuring success stories, tips, information, and more about developmental and learning disabilities.
Do you have any questions about learning disabilities that you would like to be addressed? Comment below or email me at [email protected]