My favorite literary father, Atticus Finch, tells his daughter, “It’s not time to worry yet.” Notice, he doesn’t say “don’t worry.” Instead, he counsels to only worry when there’s a valid reason.
For parents of a student with learning differences, anxiety is valid. The worry can be used to motivate action that will help a student, assuming it is not overwhelming (which it can be, understandably).
When a student struggles with reading, math, or executive function skills, schools often say “wait and see.” It’s a call for inaction. Wait and see is almost always bad advice.
When my daughter didn’t pass a reading assessment several years in a row, everyone said, “Don’t worry, she just needs more time.” After many years of unnecessary struggle, I learned that she is dyslexic.
What she needed was understanding and different instruction. Without that support and understanding, she developed severe anxiety and depression(link opens in new tab/window) at too young of an age. Waiting was educationally and emotionally damaging. I should have worried sooner.
Now in high school, my daughter still struggles every day. She manages to pull good grades so nobody seems worried. But I think I’d better start worrying that she’s not learning how she learns, not being prepared for college in a way that will work for her. And I’d better start worrying about helping her find a college that will accept her literally and figuratively.
“Don’t worry,” the college counselors say. “She’ll get in somewhere. Wait and see.” I’m sure that’s good advice for most kids, but nothing in my daughter’s educational experience has just magically worked out by waiting and seeing. It’s been hard work, motivated by worry.
Hopefully, it’s not paralyzing, but if you have kids with learning differences, it’s always time to worry.
- Parent of LD High School Student