Children With Learning Disabilities And Various Chronic Health Conditions

little girl drawing her notebook
  • Children build their lives and their future using all materials they come across on their life path. They use whatever skills we teach them, as well as the habits we attempt to shield them from. They also use whatever they may get from their peers and some of what their teachers tried to install in them.

    However, the main building blocks are the children’s natural predispositions and abilities they were born with and later had a chance to develop and expand. A child who was born with excellent hand-eye coordination and a deep intuitive understanding of visual-spatial relationships will most likely develop a nuanced and enjoyable connection to the world of visual art. The same is true for musically, mathematically, or otherwise gifted children – they were given something in excess of what their average peers were given (even though no one has even seen an average child, we can pretend she exists). These children have more building blocks, which they may or may not utilize in shaping their future.

    Children with learning disabilities or chronic physical illnesses were given less of these building blocks in some areas, even though in other areas they may be very gifted. Telling these children that their difficulties do not exist, or that “everybody is born the same,” creates a situation where their experience of the world is negated and devalued, which exacerbates their problems.

  • My goal when working with children with any kind of chronic problem is to help them learn who they are, as well as who they are not, which presupposes developing their strong sides while accepting their limitations. The “accepting their limitation” cliche has been used so many times that we don’t really think about the meaning of it anymore and what it entails. The essential part of acceptance is love and respect, combined with knowledge of the person.

    The very same is true for self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is nurtured when a child is learning what she can and cannot do, as well as how she tends to think, how she makes her decisions, what she desires in life, and what she is fearful of. When the child learns all of the above in an atmosphere of respect and kindness, she can incorporate this attitude toward herself into her personality structure, which makes her more resilient, active, and ultimately more successful in life.