“Mom, I just can’t do it!” “I can’t figure this out no matter how hard I try.” “It’s just too hard!” If your child is struggling in school, chances are, you’ve heard several of these statements–and as a parent, you want to help your student as much as possible. If your child continues to struggle, one of the first things you consider may be having them tested for a learning disability. According to US law, schools are required to provide appropriate educational accommodations for children with learning disabilities, whether by enrolling them in special education classes or providing them with a 504 plan. Often, as a parent, you will find yourself pushing hard for those accommodations in order to help your child learn more effectively. In some cases, however, you may end up with regrets concerning those accommodations and the learning disability testing. Consider these reasons why it might be worth holding off on that diagnosis.
Regret #1: Students Without Accommodations Learn to Work Around Their Difficulties
When your child has a documented learning disability, they will receive classroom accommodations specifically designed to help them succeed in spite of their disabilities. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Additional time on a timed test, for example, may be the difference your child needs in order to receive an excellent score. On the other hand, sometimes accommodations become a crutch that your child then begins to lean on–and those accommodations may not follow them into the real world, where employers quickly become frustrated when they don’t accomplish tasks on time. Instead, consider holding off on that diagnosis and the associated accommodations. You may find that your student is able to figure out how to work around their disability on their own, without accommodations in place.
Regret #2: Students May Become Socially Isolated
Simply having a learning disability may be socially isolating for your child as they struggle to interact in a way that is considered “normal” by their peers. In other cases, however, students may become increasingly isolated after their diagnosis. They may be pulled out of the regular classroom environment to receive accommodations for their learning disability. Teachers may–deliberately or otherwise–isolate the student from the rest of the classroom or single them out because of their accommodations. Without those accommodations, on the other hand, your child will remain a part of the regular classroom environment–and they may find it easier to make and keep friends as a result.
Regret #3: Schools May “Take a Pass” on a Challenging Student with a Label
When your student applies to a new school, their diagnosis goes ahead of them–and in some cases, schools may not be eager to take on that challenge. Your student’s label may warn teachers long before your child ever sets foot in the classroom that your child has the potential to be a problem. In many cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your child, for example, may thrive in a classroom environment where they’re able to be active, or they may be an excellent helper who can’t wait to meet their new teacher. With a learning disability label in place, however, your child’s struggle may begin before they even walk through the classroom door.
Regret #4: Labeled Students May Be Ignored or Disregarded
In many classrooms, it’s impossible for teachers to pay attention to every student. Teachers have limited time and resources, and they may not be able to give every child the individualized attention they need. Unfortunately, in many cases, that means the child with the learning disability gets ignored or disregarded. Teachers may believe that the child “can’t be helped” or that they’ll need too much time and attention in order to improve their outlook. As a result, they may focus instead on students who lack the label and who, therefore, seem to stand a better chance of excelling.
The decision to have your child diagnosed with a learning disability–or to pass on the diagnosis for the time being–is an incredibly personal decision for each family. If you want a learning environment where your student will be treated as a unique individual with unique needs, capabilities, and learning styles, contact us today. At The Tenney School, we believe in teaching the whole child, rather than teaching to their disability–and we’re here to start working with your child to improve their odds of academic success.