The very first thing a parent can do to help their learning-disabled child is to forgive themselves. You did not make your child have a disability on purpose; the quicker you can get over that hurdle, the quicker you can begin to understand what is going on with him or her, the quicker you can begin helping them to face that inevitable going out on their own some day. No, not all children will be able to go out and lead a somewhat normal life. There are respite homes who will help the child who cannot fend for themselves.
Once in school start a memory book with the teacher, child and yourself. This communication is essential to the growth, understanding and assurance to the child that sometimes life is wonderful if you learn to do the right thing. Also, it gives them a taste of what will happen if they don’t follow the rules of life. The parents get knowledge of what went on in school. No, this is not meant to be all negative; there are a lot of rewards the child can reap for a great day. And the parent can dole out punishment for an indiscretion at school; teachers are there to teach not punish.
The parent in return can write in the book what went on at home, whether it was a positive night or alert the teacher to some naughty (I hate the word bad) behavior at home that might carry on into the next day. The child should be encouraged to write in the book also to be able to tell the truth, not fear it. Sometimes punishment is not warranted, just talking to the child to find out why he or she acted the way they did will enlighten both parent and teacher as to why the actions were warranted by the child. Often times the child will react to something said to them an hour before; it festers in their minds until it erupts. Talking it out without punishment is often the answer that the parent cannot fathom. They were punished when they did something wrong.
The parent should attend every parent/teacher conference scheduled. These are so the parent can learn exactly what is going on with their child at school. Also the teacher can get a better grasp of what home life is like. Some children with special needs lead a life of regimentation, for the child who can learn there is some regimentation but mostly they are expected to act as others do but don’t know why. This is where talking to your child to find out why they did what they did, whether it was good or naughty. Rewards are something the child may earn. Everyday rewards are not good; if they had a good day at school, a star on the calendar. After seven stars they get to go out with Mom or Dad alone to maybe get an ice cream or some special inexpensive treat. Maybe just going to the park, or if they want to add up their stars for older children to go see a movie or skating – whatever makes them feel special.
Special education children also crave love. No, it’s not that you do not give them enough at home, it’s just another reward for doing good. The love taps on the head, a hand on the shoulder or just a plain old hug. Do anything possible to make them feel good about themselves Mom and Dad. They get teased in school and need to know they are accepted at home and at school. The teachers can only protect them just so much at school. At home Mom and Dad can protect them with all their might.
Just LOVE your child and show it; don’t assume they know it, they don’t.