If you’re a teen with a learning disorder, you may find meeting the demands of school and your social life more stressful than when you were a child. Teachers ask more, while reading and math assignments are longer and more difficult. Your social life becomes more complicated, because you have to work harder than your peers. You may feel pressure to achieve at the same rate they do. Your parents may accuse you of being lazy and may not understand how hard things are for you.
More than 4 million school-age kids and teens have learning disorders. Having a learning disorder doesn’t mean you can’t learn or you’re bad at it. It never means you’re “stupid.” It means you learn differently. You may need specific kinds of support and encouragement to do your best. In fact, people with learning disorders are usually of average or above average intelligence. Many actors, sports heroes and others have learning disorders and are very creative and successful! People like Whoopi Goldberg, Keira Knightly, Orlando Bloom, Michael Phelps, Daniel Radcliffe, and Justin Timberlake are inspiring examples.
Types of Learning Disorders
Learning disorders (also called learning disabilities) are processing problems in your brain. They may involve basic skills like reading, writing or math. They can also affect skills such as organization, abstract reasoning, attention, time planning, or memory. A disorder may be mild, or it may be more challenging to deal with. Many people first realize they have an issue when they struggle in school with reading, writing or understanding the teacher.
There are several different types of learning disorders, but they all share common difficulties
learning and using academic skills. There is specific learning disorder with impairments in reading, which affects your ability to read and sound out words (also known as dyslexia), recognize sight words, or comprehend long passages. Significant difficulty with understanding numbers, learning math facts, counting or telling time is officially called specific learning disorder with impairments in mathematics, sometimes called dyscalculia. A third learning disorder involves difficulty writing and is called specific learning disorder with impairments in written expression.
Developmental coordination disorder is another disorder that can negatively impact learning in the classroom. It involves problems with motor skills like handwriting, using scissors or silverware, riding a bike, or catching a ball, as well as clumsiness.
Other disorders that can greatly impact learning in the classroom are language disorders which involve difficulty expressing and/or understanding language.
If you have a learning disorder, your parent can reach out to a teacher, medical provider, or mental health clinician for advice. It’s recommended that you get an evaluation to better understand your individual pattern of strengths and weaknesses. This will help target where you are struggling and what you can do to help. After you’ve been evaluated and it’s clear what learning disorder is affecting you, your school will work with you to develop a plan to help you better achieve. All publicly funded schools are obligated to create an Individualized Education Program to help you succeed.
This article can help your parents better understand why school may be hard for you and recognize that you are trying your best, and not just “lazy.” Once everyone fully understands where the difficulties lie, they can work together to create strategies that best match your learning style. You will use your strength to compensate for any weaknesses. Learning disorders don’t go away, but you can learn the skills to compensate for them or work around them and accomplish your dreams.
This information is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services, only general information for education purposes only.