In elementary school, none of my teachers realized that I had ADD because I wasn’t bouncing around the room. Few understood that ADD can manifest in subtler ways, so none of them knew I spent all day, every day completely spacing out in school. I would have conversations and walk away having no idea what I had just talked about. I wasn’t hyperactive, but I couldn’t focus or pay attention to anything.
Thankfully, my mom noticed what my teachers did not. After paying close attention to problems on my homework and my distractability, she decided to have me tested for learning disabilities and ADD in fifth grade. I am eternally grateful that she did.
Becoming informed on how I learn at such a young age allowed me to develop crucial strategies to work around my learning disabilities and thrive in school going forward. It completely saved my confidence in the classroom. It gave me the opportunity to seek the right help when I needed it. But it also taught me how to advocate for myself and my needs before I had even reached middle school. This ability has served me in every facet of my life and is one of the best accidental gifts my parents gave me.
So my plea to parents is this: be proactive in your child’s learning. Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses and dig deeper into how they learn best. Instead of writing me off as bad at math, my mom looked through each math problem I got wrong to realize I was actually mixing up numbers as a result of visual processing issues. In fact, my parents even switched me to a more understanding school when my elementary school dismissed my ADD diagnosis, saying I was just “too social” and that I would “grow out of it.” Watching my parents stand up for and support my learning differences kept me loving school even when I struggled in class.
If your child has no learning disabilities, helping them figure out how they learn is still one of the best ways you can can prepare them for a successful future. I have gone on to do well in school and in the workplace, but I owe it all to my proactive mom.