Author: Amanda Henderson
Approximately 10 percent of children in the United States have a learning disability such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and autism. It’s not uncommon for the diagnosed to have low self-esteem and feelings of depression. While there’s technically no cure for learning disabilities, there are tools and strategies (like special education services) to help with schoolwork so kids can live a normal life in the present and through adulthood.
An alternative method of coping is by getting your son or daughter involved with the arts. Activities such as painting, playing an instrument, acting, or sewing present an opportunity to express one’s self in a free manner without any rules or regulations. For example, if a student is struggling with how to write an answer on paper, they may find it easier to express themselves through singing. It’s important to speak with your child’s teachers to make sure they understand the relationship between the arts and learning so that their curriculum can be set up for success. Regardless, there are still several ways your kid can exercise artistic expression outside of the classroom.
Before running out and getting an easel or an instrument, talk to your child about what forms of the arts interest them. Forcing an activity is only apt to create more stress and anxiety, so it’s important that they’re experimenting with mediums that provide an opportunity to boost self-esteem while easing symptoms of their disability. Designate a distraction-free space within your home where your child can work — ideally, a room that has natural light to boost both mood and creativity. Keep it equipped with all the supplies and tools your child needs, but be sure to lock up any potentially dangerous substances (like paint, for example) when not in use.
Ways To Get Your Child Involved
● Arts And Crafts
You need not force your child into becoming the next Picasso. There are a plethora of fun arts and crafts projects that give kids with learning disabilities a platform to explore their imagination and express their feelings in a fun and creative manner that’s free from judgment. The best part is that the options are endless (from origami to camp crafts to dioramas to cooking crafts), so your child will never become bored.
● Textile Arts And Sewing
Older kids can benefit from picking up a needle and thread or getting behind a sewing machine. Projects such as easy-to-sew pillows and pillowcases; learning how to work with different materials; and the basics of pattern making, threading, and sewing can help kids exercise their creative side while making something tangible that they’re proud of. Textile arts and sewing can also help improve their ability to concentrate, follow directions, and problem solve while sharpening their eye for detail.
● Dancing, Singing, And Acting
Not every aspect of the arts results in a palpable object. Dancing, singing, and acting are three forms of artistic expression that have many forms. These activities can help kids improve their cognitive ability, learn how to work as a part of a team (like being part of a chorus or a play, for example), improve language skills, and boost self-esteem.
● Online Aids
There are several online learning tools geared toward kids with learning disabilities, many of which offer art-based activities. Spending time on the computer can also help your child from a functional standpoint while becoming more comfortable working with electronics.
If you detect your child is feeling depressed about their disability, make sure you’re focusing on their strengths to boost their self-esteem. Whether they helped out around the house, made improvements with their schoolwork, or completed an art project, don’t let their actions go unnoticed. A little praise can go a long way.