Parenting a child with Primary Language Disorder

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Are you parenting a child who has a primary language disorder and experiencing emotional challenges and stress? If so, you are not alone. Many parents experience predictable periods of stress as they adjust to the demands of parenting a child with a disability. These feelings are often similar to those that people commonly experience after a significant loss such as a divorce, loss of a job, or death of a loved one.

Some parents deny their child’s disability. A parent in denial will avoid talking about the disability and will make up excuses and alternate explanations of the problem. The parent may behave as if everything is okay and ignore the child or his learning problems. Alternately, the parent may blame the child for his poor school performance and believe the problem is the child’s laziness or lack of effort. This stage is especially difficult to deal with when spouses disagree on the child’s disability and how their academic problems should be handled.

Anger is another common reaction in parents of a child with a disability. Parents struggling with anger may become argumentative, demanding, and verbally aggressive when dealing with a child’s underachievement. They may project their anger toward a teacher, their spouse, or their child. Some may also be angry with themselves over the child’s disability and their inability to “fix” the problem.

Some parents of children with disabilities attempt to cope by blaming others for the language disorder. The parent in the blaming stage may believe or say that the child is not learning because the teacher is not doing their job. They may also blame a spouse for making excuses for the child, whom the parent believes is not making the effort he should in school. Alternatively they may believe that there are incompetent teachers and school staff as a whole.

This stage is especially difficult and stressful when spouses disagree about the child’s disability. Further, the blamer may be unable to get past blaming to focus on resolving the child’s language problems.

Some parents of children with a disability go through a grieving process that begins when they learn about the disability. Parents who grieve over their children’s disabilities are usually concerned that their children may struggle for the rest of their lives. They may worry that the child will not be successful in life because of the disability. Parents may feel new grief over the years if their children have difficulty at various milestones when other children succeed. Passing a driver’s test, NAPLAN and similar events may trigger this grief.

Worry and grief often go hand in hand for parents of children with a disability. Parents may worry about:

– their child’s self esteem

– achievement and ability to make it through school

– whether the child will learn to read, do math, or perform other important life skill

– whether the child will be able to attend college or a vocational program

– the child having a successful career

– the child developing life skills needed to have a family and a normal adult life.

Coping with the stress of parenting a learning disabled child can be a challenge, but it is also a skill that can be learned and strengthened with practice.

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