October means many things to many people. For some it’s football, pumpkin lattes, Halloween, even honoring breast cancer survivors and victims, but did you know that October is also Learning Disabilities Awareness Month? (Aaaaand cue the eye roll.) I know, I know, last week there was a national coffee day, and last month was . . . oh, I dunno, Channing Tatum appreciation month, so how are we supposed to keep up with and recognize all the “appreciation days” and “awareness months” that are actually important?
I have a child with a learning disability, and I’ll admit, even I had no idea there was such a month, but hear me out, Learning Disabilities Awareness Month is super important to everyone, or at least it should be.
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, an estimated 15 percent of school aged youth have either a learning or attention issue, but only five percent are getting a formal diagnosis and the classroom help they need. So, what happens to the other 10 percent? They’re being bullied, becoming bullies, dropping out of high school, and sadly, many of them are falling into our justice system. The statistics are downright depressing. Now, replace those numbers, those statistics with tiny little faces that want so desperately to succeed, to fit in, to be proud or to make someone proud and it’s just devastating.
So, how do we “bring awareness” so that the 10 percent don’t continue to fall through the cracks? I think the answer is different for everyone. For teachers, it’s taking the time to look a little deeper at the kid with the behavior or attendance problems. It’s taking notes and looking for a pattern. For parents, it’s becoming an advocate for your child with a learning disability not just once, but over and over again and then teaching them to advocate for themselves.
If you suspect your child has a learning disability, it’s understanding that you might have to completely change the way you think. Unfinished assignments don’t equate laziness. Low grades don’t mean low intelligence. For the parents of children who don’t have a learning disability, I know you’re concerned about our kids being in the same classroom, I am too. I’m worried about how the teacher will split her time and attention among ALL the students, and I suspect that’s your biggest concern as well. So, together, let’s fight for more classroom resources!
We can all raise awareness by dropping the social stigma that comes with learning disabilities. A diagnosis does not mean that your child has been handed a life sentence of sub-standard education and opportunity. In fact, with adequate resources, it could mean the opposite.
For me, October will always mean cooler days, green chile everything, and a couple extra pounds around the midsection (boo to that!). But this year, and every year after, I plan to do my part to spread awareness of Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. Until that 10 percent becomes five percent, and the five percent becomes part of the success story, my Octobers will now include a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education requesting the financial support our LD students deserve, a letter to my local school board demanding the resources our educators need, Oktoberfest beer, and if I’m being completely honest, a few overpriced pumpkin-spice lattes. Cheers to a happy October and to the hope that more awareness will be brought to Learning Disabilities Awareness Month.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts 20 Neighbor Groups via Facebook, including the Moms of Special Needs Tarrant County. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.