Monday, January 07, 2008

When Learning Differences are Family Learning Differences

The New York Times has an article, Your Child's Disorder May Be Yours, Too which is currently available with free registration.

Excerpt: "...after Phil and Susan Schwarz received a diagnosis for their son, Jeremy, of high functioning autism, they began to think carefully about their own behaviors and histories.

Mr. Schwarz, a software developer in Framingham, Mass., found in his son’s diagnosis a new language to understand his own life. His sensitivities when growing up to loud noises and bright light, his own diffidence through school, his parents’ and grandparents’ special intellectual skills — all echoed through his and Jeremy’s behavior, like some ancient rhythm.

His son’s diagnosis, Mr. Schwarz said, “provided a frame in which a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated aspects of my own life growing up fit together for the first time.”

Any learning professionals who work with families know that there are many learning differences and disabilities that run in the family. As the saying goes, sometimes the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The list of familial learning differences is long and includes attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum / other social disorders, dyslexia, dyscalculia (math disability), writing disability, language disability, auditory processing disorders, conduct disorders, and more. And this doesn't even touch on other traits - intensity, introversion or extraversion, etc. that may color every aspect of a child's life at school and home. Among the families we see in our clinic, we also recognize many more subtle familial conditions such as the strong right hemispheric learners, cinematic or spatial thinkers (often non-verbal), preferences for unitasking, and late blooming profiles of brain development

The positive side of a child's learning inheritance is once recognized, parents may be able to more easily:

1. Anticipate challenges and problem solve patterns of school frustration.
2. Share strategies for overcoming weaknesses - mnemonic tricks, preferences for learning, environments and practical tools for building success.
3. Model examples of success, finding the right mentors, colleagues, work situations
4. Recognize that underperformance is not simply poor effort or misbehavior.
5. See the big picture, recognize and share with their child the positive future that they face.

There are two sides to the issue, though. And if it looks as if your child's difficulties are ones you still experience today, provide the emotional support, but look for a tutor, teacher, or other professional to help out.

Developmental Dyscalculia is a Familial Learning Disorder pdf
Familial Association and Frequency of Learning Disabilities in ADHD Sibling Pair Families Abstract only
ADHD in Girls and Family Risk Abstract
Familial links between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and bipolar disorder Abstract
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Right Hemispheric Word Finding
Eide NL Blog: Gifted Dyslexic Storytellers
Eide NL Blog: Vivid Visual Thinkers
Eide NL Blog: Spatial, Not Verbal Thinkers
Eide NL Blog: Biology of Late Bloomers
Eide NL Blog: Beyond the Poor Reading Group
Eide NL Blog: Forgetful Learners

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