The dyslexic adults I see often come in thinking they’re lazy, or broken, or worse, stupid.
As children, they were told that they had a deficit – and the conversation stopped there.
When those same dyslexic adults and I do an assessment together, we learn that they are far from lazy, broken, or stupid. In fact, we end up rewriting the narrative of their entire childhood.
Explaining ADHD to anyone is complicated, never mind a young child! For starters, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:”
- Is not actually a deficit in attention,
- Does not always involve hyperactivity, and
- Does not lead to disorder in every environment
I wanted to share a few key concepts that have made a big difference in the way I think about feedback with children. These ideas come together to form the framework I use for talking to kids about their testing results:
I remember the first time a parent asked me to talk to their child about their learning disability after an assessment.
I agreed enthusiastically and invited them in right away. I brought out pictures and metaphors and started in on what I thought would be a powerful, demystifying experience for the child!
But instead of the life-changing conversation I had imagined, his eyes welled up and he buried his head in his mother’s lap, asking to go home.
By the time we start an assessment, many kids already have a sense that they are different in some way. Still, for many the kids I’ve worked with, learning that there is a name for their experience didn’t necessarily bring a sense of relief.
After the assessment is over, the next challenge is explaining the results to the child. This is no easy task – understanding testing results is hard enough as an adult!
So, how do we translate our often long and complex reports into child-friendly language, so that every kid leaves knowing how to explain their amazing brain?
Helping kids understand their learning differences doesn’t happen at the feedback session – it’s an ongoing conversation throughout the assessment.
Talking to kids about learning differences and disabilities is not a one-time conversation. But as a testing psychologist with limited time, it can often feel like I’ve only got one shot.
Explaining learning differences to children is challenging.
As a testing psychologist, I’ve struggled to find the right language to help kids understand their differences in an empowering way. It’s easy to overwhelm a young mind, and many students just stare back with that glazed-over look, or stay focused on the negative.
In talking to others in the field, it turns out I’m not alone!
For most students, getting stuff done in the online learning world is extremely challenging. However, motivation is actually a set of skills. And if we’re talking about skills, that means adults can teach it, and students can learn it!