Tan was a good boy. At 10 years old, he wanted to please his parents and teachers. He liked football and played well with his friends. But when it came to his schoolwork, he just couldn’t be helped.
Tan’s teachers complained that he would daydream. He’d stare out the window and not listen to the teacher. The teacher said he wasn’t trying hard enough to learn. “This is easy, Tan” the teacher would say, but it wasn’t easy for him. Sometimes, he would act silly, as if he were 6 years old, and the other kids would tease him for it. His grades were going down. Finally, teacher called the parents in for a conference. Tan’s parents tried to discipline him, but that didn’t work. Tan was sad to disappoint his parents and anxious to go to school the next day. He started getting tummy aches before school. Things were getting worse.
We found out later that Tan had a learning disability that was hurting him in the classroom. With a few simple accommodations, he was back on task and proud that he could learn again. Until we learned that, however, Tan was an anxious, sad boy. Concerned adults called him lazy, and friends pointed at him and laughed.
What is it like to have a learning disability? Is it only a problem with academics, or does it affect the rest of your life too? How can we help kids like Tan succeed?
Clearly, the first step is to understand what it is he’s going through. Fortunately, we have a resource readily available to help us know just what it’s like to be a learning disabled person, and how frustrating, anxiety provoking, and tense it can be to go to school.
I highly recommend you take an hour out of your busy day to watch this video “How Difficult Can This Be?” It was made over 30 years ago and some of the terms and phrases are out-of-date. However, it’s easy to understand, and the human dynamics haven’t changed at all. I’ve share this video with countless parents, students, and professionals over the years and have yet to see someone walk away from it unmoved. If you can, watch it with your family – it will be a great conversation starter.