What is it Really Like to Have a Learning Difference?

Sometimes parents get frustrated with their child’s academic performance. Teachers and parents may feel that they remind the student over an over about a specific concept and they just “don’t get it”. This can lead to frustration with the student, parent, and the teacher.

In order to bridge the gap of understanding between the child and the adult, Understood.org has created a useful tool to “experience” these learning differences. Simply go to https://www.understood.org/en/tools/through-your-childs-eyes. You can choose to, “Experience It”. By selecting the specific subject area and grade range you will get a simulation of what your child might be going through in a typical school day. You will also see a video of a real student talk openly about their academic and social struggles.

To experience what it is like for a student with ADHD you will need to complete a matching activity while hearing several different overlapping sounds. This is very challenging and simulates the distractions that students with attention issues are expected to tune out. Kendall, a 4th grader with focus issues, explains that it, “feels like one side of my body is fighting with the other side.” Merrill, a fifth grader with dyslexia discusses the social stigma she faces as a struggling reader. Julie Washington, Ph. D. from Georgia State University explains that, ” When reading is hard, a child’s whole life can be hard.”  To better understand her reading difficulties, you will have to unscramble letters as fast as you can to make recognizable words.

The simulations and videos are a quick and fun way to gain a better understanding of the obstacles students with learning differences face everyday.  Building empathy for our students can help them feel better about themselves and improve the way we help them succeed.