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Neurodiversity Talks: Parenting kids with learning difficulties: Real Insights and Podcast

Neurodiversity Talks: Parenting kids with learning difficulties: Real Insights and Podcast

Whilst there is no exact formula for raising kids with learning difficulties, there are strategies to help lead positive lives.

Lifestyle insight

In a recent podcast episode of Neurodiversity Matters, Chief Executive of a Neurodiversity charity and learning difficulties expert, Dr Tony Lloyd, was joined by two mums, Giselle and Jannine to share individual perspectives on diagnosis, challenges and approaches to raising children with learning difficulties.

Receiving a diagnosis can be a relief

Giselle always knew her now 17-year-old son was different. When he was younger, she believed his unwanted behaviour was a result of bad parenting and often felt judged by others.

“As a young child, there was always the perception that he was naughty.”
          - Giselle, mum of child diagnosed with learning difficulties.

“It’s that anxiety and that not feeling safe and feeling overwhelmed that is the cause of behaviours that are inappropriate.”
          - Dr Tony Lloyd, Chief Executive of a Neurodiversity charity and learning difficulties expert.

The real reason behind his behaviour was uncovered shortly before his 5th birthday when he received a diagnosis of two learning difficulties. At the time of diagnosis, around 10 -12 years ago, learning difficulties were not very well known, little support was available, and judgement was rife.

“Back then it was probably a lot worse, the kind of judgement was a lot worse than it is now. There wasn’t a lot of support… Here’s your medication, here’s your diagnosis and off you go”
          - Giselle, mum of child diagnosed with learning difficulties.

Dual Diagnosis. This is quite common, isn’t it?

“Yes, 29%.1 Nearly a third of all children with what we call a primary diagnosis of [one learning difficulty also have another].1
         - Dr Tony Lloyd, Chief Executive of a Neurodiversity charity and learning difficulties expert.

Today, there is much more awareness of learning difficulties. Support groups, including on social media (e.g. Facebook), are widely available for parents to share their stories, experiences and tips so they don’t feel alone in their daily parenting challenges.

 “Hearing those stories from parents that were in a similar position – that was probably the best support that I had…I wasn’t doing a bad job… I just had to learn how to understand it and find my own ways of coping.”
          - Giselle, mum of child diagnosed with learning difficulties.

“Nobody teaches you to be a parent but certainly nobody teaches you how to be a parent with a child with additional needs…I think what Giselle has said will resonate with an awful lot of parents who are listening to this.”
          - Dr Tony Lloyd, Chief Executive of a Neurodiversity charity and learning difficulties expert.

Omega supplements can help when managing learning difficulties2-5

Another mum in the podcast, Jannine, found omega supplements to be beneficial for improving functioning and noticed less erratic behaviour in her children diagnosed with learning difficulties.

“We’ve been using Equazen products. I just found them invaluable in terms of supporting the functioning of my kids as they’ve been growing older. And when I’ve forgotten to use them, I’ve noticed the difference.”
          - Jannine, mum who has children with learning difficulties.

Jannine also has learning difficulties, and regularly uses omega supplements as well. She noticed improvements in her concentration levels.

“I really struggled to learn…I did find that the Equazen tablets really helped me with that. Increased my base level of concentration.”
          - Jannine, mum who has children with learning difficulties.

Omega 3. It does help, doesn’t it?

“It’s an essential fatty acid that’s needed by the brain for daily functioning. But we know it also particularly helps young people in terms of brain development, because your brain is made up largely of fatty acids anyway. Omega 3 is not something that we produce naturally. It’s something that we have to get in the diet.”
          - Dr Tony Lloyd, Chief Executive of a Neurodiversity charity and learning difficulties expert.

Top tip: Stay on their side 

Despite the challenges of parenting a child with learning difficulties, remaining on their side at all times was unanimously voiced as a top tip.

“Put myself in his shoes. Try to see the world from his eyes.”
          - Giselle, mum of child diagnosed with learning difficulties.

“Get along the same side as my child. I’m there to fight alongside them for their best outcomes, not to fight against them and try to bend them to my will…Once they realise that you are on their side no matter what, you’re going to get the best out of them.“
         - Jannine, mum who has children with learning difficulties.

“We all want our children to behave in ways where they are going to be happy and accepted and feel that they are going to belong.”
          - Dr Tony Lloyd, Chief Executive of a Neurodiversity charity and learning difficulties expert.

 

For more, listen to the full Podcast available here!

References:

  1. Science Daily. Nearly one-third of children with autism also have ADHD. Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605103952.htm
  2. Sinn N and Bryan J. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007;28(2):82-91.
  3. Sinn N et al. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2008;78(4-5):311-26.
  4. Richardson AJ et al. Pediatrics. 2005 May;115(5):1360-6.
  5. Kidd PM. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Sep;12(3):207-27.

 

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