Being a teenager can be hard enough. Managing school, friends, family and extra curricular activities almost every day can be super stressful. And when you add a learning disability to the mix, life can become overwhelming.
But here's something you may not know: tons of really cool celebrities have learning disabilities! Kiera Knightly, Orlando Bloom, Adam Levin and Justin Timberlake all have learning disabilities and they are all successful and intelligent people!
When Learning isn't Easy
Schoolwork and homework can be very challenging for teens with learning disabilities. Common disabilities like Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, and Dyscalculia can make writing, reading and math very difficult. The added complexity can make life so much more stressful and frustrating! Like a friend of mine with a learning disability admitted, “I get so frustrated when I work as hard as I can for hours on an assignment and still don’t get the correct answer." All that extra time and stress spent on schoolwork can just be miserable!
But if you know or think you have a learning difference and are feeling nervous, don't panic! Most high schools have lots of tools to help teens with learning disabilities, starting with special testing performed by a school psychologist or learning specialist to nail down what the disabilities are and what kind of supports are needed. Support classes, individual aids or tutors and extra time on tests and assignments then help level the academic playing field.
Whether you have a learning difference or just need a little extra help in school, it's important to stay focused and organized by following these strategies:
- If you don’t understand something in class, make sure to talk to the teacher about it! Don’t feel embarrassed, it’s their job to help clear up any confusion you have and you'll be better off in the long run.
- When writing a paper, try making an outline of all the things you want to say. Outlines can help organize your thoughts and can keep you from going off topic.
- Write down homework assignments in a notebook and cross out the assignments when you’ve completed them. Using a homework notebook will prevent you from forgetting to do an assignment and show you all the work you've already completed!
- Set up a quiet, clean area to do your homework in every day that will prevent distractions and keep you organized in one place.
- Make sure to turn off your cell phone, laptop, Facebook and Twitter while doing homework to limit distractions.
LD is No Joke
But learning disabilities don't just make school harder - they can be emotionally taxing, too! Many teens face hurtful bullying because of their different learning styles. Mean words like sped, stupid and retarded can make teens feel less intelligent and embarrassed about their learning difficulties. In fact, in a UK survey conducted by the charity Mencap showed that 82% of kids with learning disabilities are bullied.
Some people who procrastinate are not lazy – procrastination can be a sign of depression. If you think that you may be depressed, consider seeking help.
Though mean words can cause a lot of pain, it is important to remember that having a learning disability doesn’t mean you are less intelligent than anyone else, it just means that you learn in a different way. Being in a special education program isn’t a bad thing either; all it means is that you are getting the support you need to excel in school.
Another good way to remain positive is to remember that you're not alone. So embrace your differences, pick your head up, and get the help you need to thrive.
This article has been reveiwed by health expert Tara Cousineau, PhD.