Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kids and Adults Who Learn Differently Can Still Prosper

Being a parent is a tough job. Parenting a child with a learning disability makes it even tougher. Then, imagine what it would be like for the child living with the learning disability to cope and for the parent to also have the strength and courage to help them thrive and succeed.

For all involved, coping with the reality of a learning disability can be somewhat challenging. Once understood and embraced both children and parents can begin to see the future filled with possibility, opportunity and potential.

Jill Lauren, a learning disabilities expert, and friend of mine, has been teaching learning disabled students of all ages for well over twenty-five years. Her expertise is also in reading and writing. She also trains teachers across the country with her structured, multi-sensory approaches and works with various schools to implement successful reading programs. Jill also conducts a private practice in educational remediation and consultation for learning disabled students in New York City, and lectures upon request. She has also written a book entitled Succeeding With LD* -- 20 True Stories About Real People with LD*.

A while back Jill told me that she was inspired by one of her students who asked if others like her learned differently. This led Jill to create another book entitled That’s Like Me!, which has since received the 2010 Margot Marek award from the New York Branch of the International Dyslexia Association as a "most outstanding book written for adults or children on the subject of dyslexia or related learning disabilities."

This colorful children’s picture book includes amazing stories of fifteen people Jill interviewed with including an award-winning children’s illustrator, veterinarian, firefighter and inventor, just to name a few. These amazing people share their personal struggles with learning differences and their accomplishments to provide hope to children and their parents and help show that dreams are possible.

I was fortunate to receive a complimentary copy of That’s Like Me! and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. And, I recently connected with Jill to ask her more about her life as an educator and author including her dedication and commitment to helping others with learning disabilities.

She said “when kids who learn differently hear about people who didn’t let their school challenges stop them from pursuing hobbies or developing a talent, it’s both motivating and comforting.” Further she emphasized that she hopes “that kids will realize that they are not alone – that there are lots of people who find school hard who are also smart in many ways.”

According to Jill, it is important for children to consider ways in which they are smart or talented and to think about hobbies and favorite activities that make them happy and to pursue these areas of interest with passion, energy and enthusiasm.

I much liked the following point Jill expressed including that “while parents do everything they can do help their children with subjects that are challenging, they should also be “on the lookout” for activities in which their children shine. Be sure to put aside time so that kids can enjoy activities that build self-esteem. Kids who learn differently need to know that someone believes in them and will support them…and that it’s never too late for someone to find a passion and to pursue it.

Through additional research I also came across feedback from a mom and her 12-year-old daughter regarding That's Like Me! that I thought you would find interesting.

Alison C. Baker, a mother from New York, NY, posted a comment online after purchasing That's Like Me saying "Ms. Lauren captures the spirit of these children, and shows us that the bumps in the road should never stop us, and often provides a real opportunity to stretch and learn what makes each and every one of us tick!" She goes on to say that Ms. Lauren is "a tireless crusader and I only wish this book was mandatory reading for everyone in child education."

Alison's daughter also commented saying, "This book shares amazing stories that everyone should hear about...I felt hope because these people found happiness in their lives and that makes me happy."

Therefore, I highly recommend That's Like Me! for any child coping with a learning disability and trying to grasp at how to deal and envision success in their future. I also suggest that for any parent who has a child in this situation to read this book as well to understand the perspective from a child's standpoint and the role parents can play significantly in helping to increase children's confidence to growth and prosper happily despite learning challenges.

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