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A Successful Future for Your Child with LD: Get Prepared Today!

Written by Connie Hawkins, LD Expert | February 5, 2013

This summer, I shared several pieces of “expert” advice with the NCLD community that I have learned in my experience as both the parent of a child with a learning disability (LD) and as the Executive Director of the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center, a federally funded Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) in North Carolina. I saved one of my most important pieces of advice for last: start planning for your child’s future now!

As a parent, one of our first concerns after recognizing that our child has a learning disability is always “the future.” Can our child be an independent adult? Can he or she graduate from high school? What about college? What type of job or profession will be a good fit? And I know most of us have wondered: “will he or she ever be able to survive without his mother (or father)?”

The answers to these questions are child specific, however, the following are “tried and true” tips for giving your child the best chance for an independent future.

  1. Remember you are your child’s most important role model and your attitude is key to him becoming an effective self advocate and independent adult. Think about how your words, negative or positive feelings, and legitimate frustrations impact your child’s feelings about himself and his abilities. A positive “can do” attitude makes a difference.
  2. Academic skills are definitely important components of adult life but social and emotional, organizational, decision making and life skills are sometimes more important. Begin teaching these skills as soon as possible.
  3. Make sure your child knows about his LD and understands how he learns best, what accommodations he needs, and has the skills to be a self-advocate.
  4. Ensure that LD is one of many adjectives describing your child, not the sole definition of who he is! Make sure that your expectations for your child’s future success and fulfillment do not change…they just come with modifications, accommodations, and support.

Connie Hawkins is executive director for the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (ECAC), a federally funded Parent Training & Information Center in North Carolina. For over 20 years, Connie has managed PTI offices throughout North Carolina. In 2004 she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Public Schools of North Carolina for her outstanding contribution to the lives of students with disabilities.

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