Increasing confidence in kids with learning disabilities

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Increasing confidence in kids with learning disabilities

I think that parents can help their children with disabilities feel much more confident and competent by focusing on what the kids can do well. If you have a learning disability or ADHD, it means that certain things that you encounter in your life may be difficult for you. If parents help their kids understand the difference and where it imposes the difficulties in their life and more importantly what they can do about it kids then have a sense of being in control of their own lives and that’s really important. I think parents who look for things that kids do well outside of school and use those as competence anchors, do their kids a favor because no matter how tuff things get in school, if a parent can say, yes school is tuff but some jobs in life are tuff. When you’re on the playing field or when you’re playing soccer or hockey, you’re a great player. Use that feeling that you have their and carry that with you into your schoolroom and into your school work. Parents can do a really important job of building their kids up from the inside out by giving them very honest feedback. By saying to them yes it’s difficult but you have chosen to do certain things that help you get around this disability or this difficulty and you’re doing that really well. Parents and teachers alike have to think more about process than product. It’s not what you turn out but it’s what you used, what skills and talents you used to get to that product that are the important things in your life. So when parents focus on that; that can be very helpful to kids. The other thing that parents and teachers need to do is to be really very realistic in their praise. In other words, they don’t say to a 5th grade child who’s working at the 3rd grade level, you’re a wonderful reader. That’s not true and the child knows that’s not true. But to say to that same 5th grader, last year you were reading on a 2nd grade level and now you’re reading at the 2.5 grade level and that’s only taken you 6 months. If we look at your learning trajectory, we can predict that you’re going to get much closer to grade level by this time next year. That gives a kid hope, that gives the kid a chance to believe that something better will happen instead of sitting around and feel like I’m stupid and I can’t do anything about it.

Watch Jerome Schultz, PhD's video on Increasing confidence in kids with learning disabilities...


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Jerome Schultz, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is a former middle school special education teacher. He is currently in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  For over three decades, he has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs. He was on the faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge MA for almost 30 years, and served there as the Founding Director of a diagnostic clinic called the Learning Lab. Before returning to private practice, Dr. Schultz served as the Co-Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Schultz received both his undergraduate and Master’s degree from The Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of a journal called Academic Psychiatry, and is on the Professional Advisory Boards of a website called Inside, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

In addition to his clinical and educational work, Dr. Schultz serves as an international consultant on issues related to the neuropsychology and appropriate education of children and young adults with ADHD & LD and other special needs. In his current role as neuropsychological consultant to several large school districts in the Boston area, he is on the ground, in schools and working with kids and their teachers several days each week.

Dr. Schultz created an award-winning video called “Einstein and Me” about living successfully with a learning disability, and has written extensively about children with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. He has a special education and psychology blog on the Huffington Post. His book, called Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) which examines the role of stress in learning, has received international acclaim.


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