This powerful video really opened my eyes to what it’s like to live with learning and attention issues like ADHD, and WOW – it hit me hard. Two of my three kids have had a receptive language delay, where they processed language more slowly than most kids and through speech language therapy had to be taught things that most children learn easily on their own. For instance, we are now working with my 4-year-old on answering “WH” questions – he has a hard time giving a reason “why” and he often confuses “who” and “what”. Sometimes, if I ask “Who did you play with at school today?” he will say “Play-doh” instead of giving a friends’ name. He is doing great in therapy and I know that he will, like my daughter before him, eventually be caught up with his peers.
But I have to say, I never really understood what it might be like to BE him until I saw this video! I’m still kind of speechless from it. Keeping him learning and focusing on language issues takes a lot of effort on my part during the summer, and I can see why there are many kids who look forward to the upcoming summer break more than most. One in five children struggle with issues related to reading, math, writing, focus, and organization, yet many children with learning and attention issues do not have a diagnosis. Imagine the relief felt by these kids when the last school bell of the year rings throughout the hallways. The adults in their lives often have a hard time understanding their issues due to misconceptions and a lack of information and resources. As a result, children with learning and attention issues often face both academic and social challenges.
If you are sitting there reading this, stressed out and feeling alone, don’t be. You are definitely not alone. A friend shared the above video with me, which led me to look into the people who made it – Understood – an organization that was created by a coalition of 15 nonprofits, and its content and tools were informed by a survey of more than 2,200 parents of children with learning and attention issues. Understood offers free daily access to experts through chats and webinars, a safe online community that encourages parents to reach out to and learn from each other and a suite of specially designed, first-of-their-kind tools.
Understood provides parents with clear explanations about learning and attention issues. It also offers practical advice for parents on everything from how to partner with their child’s teachers and help with homework to how to explain their child’s issues to friends and relatives and plan family gatherings that are less stressful and more fun for everyone. Here are some of the tools that you can utilize to discover what Understood has to offer:
- Interactive Quizzes: to determine what might be happening with your child
- Through Your Child’s Eyes: A series of interactive simulations and videos that enable parents to experience firsthand how smart people can struggle with a seemingly simple task when they have reading, writing, math, organization or attention issues.
- Tech Finder: Expert-approved apps and games searchable by a child’s grade and issues.
- Just For You: An opt-in system that provides additional levels of personalized content recommendations. (Parents don’t need to sign in to start getting customized recommendations on Understood; all they need to do to hit the ground running is check the boxes about their child’s grade and issues.) Parents who choose to complete a secure, confidential profile will receive recommendations for each child in their profile as well as for topics they’ve expressed interest in, such as siblings, travel and communicating with family and friends.
- Decision Guide: Key questions to help parents think through big topics, such as whether it’s time to request a formal evaluation, let a child start dating or decide which path to pursue after high school.
Encouragement and interaction can go a long way in helping all kids. As busy parents it is sometimes hard to come up with things to keep our kids from getting “brain drain” over the summer. There are lots of fun ways to encourage kids to keep learning, even while they’re not in class.
Maybe you are a parent of a struggling child, or even a friend or family member who is watching the struggle from afar. Understood has resources for everyone to learn how to help these kiddos face these challenges. The You & Your Family section helps families with practical solutions and advice for social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Having the gift of extra time with your child over the summer means the opportunity to prepare them for the coming school year, as well as engaging in fun family activities.
Children and family are such an important part of life. Sometimes you have to take the hard with the easy, the bad with the good. If you know someone who is struggling, be it a parent or a child; encourage them to check out Understood. They may find exactly the help and inspiration that they need!