When most people reflect on their child hood, they will always think about pleasurable memories that tend to describe those relatively untroubled stage of their life e.g. field trip, award presentation etc. but for this children it is a different world, all they reflect on is a life of loneliness and isolation. Even though every child has experienced humiliation or denunciation in social situations one time or the other, kids with learning disabilities are often secluded and rejected, and at times, have a particularly hard time making and keeping friends. This thus makes it even harder for them to be in any learning institution as they feel left out of any social undertaking. Research has earlier shown that children who do well socially at school will have better social skills as adults and most likely will end up as successful people in the future (Fisher and Cummings 56). On the contrary, for those children with physical or any other disability, the test of making friendships can be very significant, especially if there is restricted or limited availability to various social activities because they cannot relate freely. Lots of evidence support that children with disability suffer the risk of social isolation as a result of the stigma that the community at large connects to disability and the lack of the society understanding about disability. For all children whose communal skills have a discrepancy with the other normal children, it always makes it difficult for them, or at times even prevents them, to connect with their peers and even at times denies them a chance to experience friendships.
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According to Richard Lavoie, an expert on the matter and who has been carrying out a lot of research on children with learning disabilities, the kind of a day they normally have in the environment of normal children at school and other social places is one that is filled with what he artfully terms as “social seclusion.” In his 2005 documentary “First One Picked…, Last One Picked On,” Lavoie makes great significant efforts in showing how easy it can be for a normal child in elementary school to do things like playing, organizing games or sharing secrets and stories about their lives with a lot of ease, while it takes the child with learning disabilities a lot of mettle to do the very same things. If this children get a little helping hand from those around them from time to time, i.e. teachers, other students and parents, they can slowly learn how to make and keep friends and they would stop feeling isolated or rejected, getting them on their way to building the foundation of significant relations. He offers useful recommendation on building successful measures in everyday situation while providing teachers and parents with paraphernalia and vast strategies necessary to encourage social competence in these children.
According to the documentary, children with learning disability will show a wide range of symptoms from an early stage of life. These symptoms may include troubles with reading, reasoning ability inattentiveness, speaking or comprehending and many others. A child that is suffering from one or most of this signs will need a lot of attention and support, the more a child posses some or most of this symptoms does not particularly mean the degree of their disability is high but the consideration is mainly on the degree and the difference between a child’s accomplishment in some areas, as well as his or her general intelligence.
Having had a lot of experience raising his own child who has a learning disability, Lavoie argues that parents and early childhood teachers are in a particularly excellent position to cultivate the socially incapable children, as they are the ones exposed to them the longest. If we could put the teacher on the spot for a moment, since most of the time spent by a child at this early age is in school, their behavior and attitudes towards themselves and others can be easily detected. According to Lavoie, once a teacher detects that a child shy’s away from doing things with the others or they are generally slow in getting things as fast as they should, it should be their objective as a teacher to center their attention in promoting the suitable language and communication skills and all this teachings’ should be presented in a positive and supportive manner, trying their best not to demoralize the child by critical words that refer to their weakness.
In the documentary, Lavoie insists, on the other hand, that parents back at home should play the position of nurturing the social competence of these learning disabled children at the very young age, by engaging them in talks, reading of books and even in the carrying out house chores as this will definitely help them in opening up and even asking questions. According to the doctor, “observing your child or children in your class or home enables you to gain an understanding of the child’s strong and weak areas, thus getting you in a position to continuously present the child with social information and as well as the social activities that will put them at par with others in the society” (First One Picked…, Last One Picked On). Additionally, it has been noted that the learning disabled children will always draw back due to lack of information, making them not participate in social activities due to the fear that they do not know or whatever little they know could be wrong.
In conclusion, it is important to avoid discouraging children with learning disability from building friendships and relationships with younger or older children, since it maybe that that is where they get the status and acceptance they do not get elsewhere. It is also advisable not to force a child with a disability to participate in activities they are not interested in, participate in groups that could make them uncomfortable, or in highly stimulated completions as such situations will only raise their level of anxiety and thought of incompetence. Avoiding reproaching or reprimanding the child while they are trying to discuss with you about the problems they are facing socially, and listening keenly is the way to win their trust, ensuring that they can freely talk to you in future.
Lavoie, Richard. First One Picked…, Last One Picked On: Learning Disabilities and Social Skills. Weston Woods, 2005. United Learning.
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Fisher, Gary and Cummings, Rhoda. The Survival Guide for Kids with LD. Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., 1990. Print.