Whether you are a parent of a learning disabled child, or teaching a whole classroom full of them, demotivation can be a real bogeyman. It has a horrible tendency to create misconceptions about disabilities while placing an emotional weight upon students that becomes very hard to shake off.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that, unlike regular children, those with learning disabilities feel like their condition is a painfully legitimate sign that they cannot hope to get anywhere in life. Worst still is the fact that such a mentality makes them less willing to take on support programs or other opportunities to help them improve.
How do parents and teachers break this vicious cycle of demotivation? Fortunately, there are a lot of well-known strategies that are effective depending on how well you know the primary cause of a child’s dyslexia.
Here are a few examples.
1. One-on-one instruction.
One-on-one instruction can address multiple issues at once. It can give teachers the chance to develop a closer connection with a student and better understand their emotional struggles over their disability.
Alternatively, it allows for quieter spaces and can help a student who experiences difficulty learning to read because of sensitivity to sound. This further helps in a teacher’s ability to use alternative teaching methods that better complement the learning strengths of dyslexic students (e.g. visual learning, demonstrations etc).
2. Brain training programs.
Sometimes dyslexia can result from issues like auditory processing disorder (APD), where the brain is not properly registering information from the sounds the ear hears. Dyslexics like this suffer the disconnection of the written symbol from the sound supposedly representing it because certain pathways in the brain are not connecting in a functional way.
In such cases, brain training programs like the Tomatis® Method can make quite an impact because it works to exercise those poorly used pathways. And when those pathways are properly exercised, it strengthens their capacity to listen and finally start learning!
And lastly, there is also nothing wrong with getting some counseling for the affected student and first focus on areas like confidence and mindset. Sometimes, no matter how well the instruction, demotivation has its roots in something deeper.
Then again, there is also a more technical term for that: emotional dysregulation. Students who suffer from bouts of demotivation are not necessarily limited to those with dyslexia. They can be any child who is easily frustrated by failure and lack of progress in comparison to their peers. With counseling, a student can come to better appreciate their unique self instead of condemning it.
At this point, you should note that all of these strategies are not mutually exclusive. You can use them interchangeably and supplement each other if that is what it takes to help a child overcome their disability.
For example, one-on-one instruction can be structured to help a child succeed in one small reading task at a time, followed by some counselling to further motivate them and then a little brain training exercise to further overcome their handicap.
Overcoming demotivation is really just a matter of personally connecting with them, nailing down the cause of their struggles and patiently helping them get back on their feet.
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