When your child is diagnosed with a learning disability, emotional disorder, or ADHD it can be a challenging time for your child and your whole family. Receiving a diagnosis like this can feel overwhelming to children and to parents even if they have been searching for answers for a while and are expecting to be relieved. Figuring out the most effective way to ensure that your child’s learning, emotional, and attention issues are being handled in the best way can be stressful and confusing at times. Your child’s diagnosis can affect his or her performance and attitude about learning. Struggling academically or emotionally can also affect your child’s self-esteem and their attitude and behavior at home. As parents, it is natural to expect that relief will come once a diagnosis is made but sometimes this can cause more anxiety as now a plan will need to be put in place to help your child. Here are some strategies to help your family get through this adjustment and help your child in the most effective way:
Allow yourself time to adjust to your child’s diagnosis: even though this is something your child is dealing with, it does directly affect you and your other family members. It is okay to take some time before you start putting a plan in place and scheduling meetings, etc. Allowing yourself to express your emotions will be important so that you experience some relief and can focus on helping and supporting your child. To relieve stress, do something that makes you feel happy and relaxed such as taking a bubble bath, going on a walk, getting a massage, etc.
Find a support group: whether it is in person or online, consider joining a support group related to your child’s diagnosis. Thinking about talking about your child’s diagnosis with other parents can be anxiety provoking but it can be very helpful and therapeutic to talk to other parents and families who can relate to what you are going through. It is also a great way to gain support and to be able to share strategies and ideas with each other.
Be an advocate for your child: talk to your child’s teacher and school counselor and make a plan to see if they qualify for academic accommodations and/or emotional support at school. It is best to have everyone on the same team working to help your child succeed academically, emotionally, and socially.
Find a therapist for your child and family: it can be helpful to have a therapist working with your child to help them adjust to their diagnosis and learn strategies for how to move forward academically, emotionally, and socially. It is also important that your child is able to express their feelings and worries about what they are dealing with at school and at home. Other family members may also benefit from talking to a therapist such as parents who may be feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes siblings need extra support and may be feeling lost in the process with so much attention being on their brother or sister. If your child is having social issues due to their diagnoses it can be helpful to enroll them in a social skills group where they can learn how to relate to their peers in a more effective manner and gain confidence in social situations.
Although a diagnosis of a learning disability, emotional disorder, or ADHD can be overwhelming for you and your child, it is possible to work through it as a family and help your child adjust and succeed academically, thrive emotionally, and be confident socially!