HomeADDLearning Differences and Family

Life with a less than common neurology can be difficult, but it also puts a strain on the entire family. We all know that every family has its own unique dynamics and challenges, but at least with LDs, there are a few techniques that can help the family as a whole do better in the long run.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Their strength
and mutual support can be a massive help to all members
By Henry M. Trotter at en.wikipedia [Public domain],
from Wikimedia Commons

Being an older sister myself to an awesome young man with more severe issues than I have, I remember firsthand the frustration behind having a sibling who needs a great deal of attention. Although I was a pretty terrible sister, at least in my own critical point of view, there were a few things that happened which were helpful.

Up To Date
When siblings know what’s going on with their brother or sister academically and emotionally, it’s easier to tolerate perceived parental slights. Regardless of the feelings involved, sometimes the needier child must have more time spent on them. At least knowing the why behind it helps with the burden.

Even though all kids must learn responsibility, acting as second, or third, parent to their sibling isn’t necessarily the best way to do it. All kids need the opportunity to be just that – kids. Watching the sibling once in a while isn’t a big deal, but when it starts to be a regular thing, that’s when problems start.

While we’re on the topic of responsibility, the LD kid should be given responsibilities around the house, just like their non-LD sibling. Remember, they’re much, much more than their neurogolgy. They may need accommodations, or their responsibility may need to be modified until they’re able to fully pick it up, but it’s still necessary for their growth into an independent adult.

Unique Strengths
We all need to learn how to acknowledge our unique strengths and weaknesses. Neuroligies that generate things like dyslexia and autism come with very unique strengths, but kids who are neuronormative also have their own strengths. Each child must be celebrated for the wonderful, unique people they are. The danger with concentrating on building your LD kid up is that the non-LD kid may feel as if they’re not as loved or special as their sibling.

Just because a kid is getting by in school doesn’t mean they don’t need encouragement and help at some points along the way.

Avoid Shaming
By the same token, shaming a child for not doing well in school will have repercussions on their siblings. I’ve had some pretty nasty fights with my siblings in the past, and kids will generally strike out in any way they can. If the parents shame a kid for being LD or for not being LD, that offers fighting kids another weapon that may leave scars for quite a while.

Remember – “normal” is different for everyone.

For the Grown Ups
It’s no secret that parenting is one of the hardest jobs someone can undertake. When your family is made up with a diversity of neurologies, that adds more challenge to the task at hand.

The best way to combat difficulties at home is to educate yourself and your family as much as possible about the issues that must be dealt with. This is especially important when it comes to sensory perception disorders, because these can make a kid break more quickly than anything school related. By minimizing sensory triggers and doing any ‘take-home-work’ occupational therapists might suggest, you’ll be able to make the home more peaceful for everyone.


Using a system something like this one may reinforce
daily or weekly routines.
By Sheila Thomson (Flickr: Saturday Schedule)
[CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is a good idea for all kids, actually. Although LD kids may have a harder time dealing with change than non-LD, routines still set structure that all kids benefit from. Getting them all in good habits will help them throughout their adult lives. When it comes to changing the routines as the kids get older, do your best to cater the alterations to each kid’s development. It may be difficult, depending on the personalities you have to live with, but it is possible.

Grown Up Time
Don’t forget about yourself! You and your spouse need time to nurture your relationship through all struggles and changes. Send the kids’ to a trusted relative’s house, or hire a baby sitter, and schedule date nights, come up with other ways to spend one on one time or go out with friends once in a while. Your mental health is extremely important, especially when caring for your little ones.

Family Therapist
If things get too difficult, there’s no shame at all in seeking help from a respected therapist. It may take a little hunting to find one that will work well, but a trained, third person point of view could be just the thing you need to achieve some peace.

Also, if you’re starting to fracture from the pressure, you may want to seek help for yourself. Therapists can offer you ideas for dealing with stress and self care that could make all the difference in the world.

Most importantly, stay as upbeat as possible. A positive point of view will only bring more positivity into your life, and it’ll rub off on your family. Of course, we all have our negative times, but they will pass. Remember, as long as you’re breathing, there’s always hope for a better tomorrow.

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