Did you know that studies show parents of children with learning disabilities are more stressed than other parents? It doesn’t take a lot of brain space to figure out why. Recently, I had a parent contact me wanting to place her child on our online program instead of having him to our private school.
“No worries,” I said.
She went into a frantic rant, finally telling me the reason. At first, it seemed odd, but the more I thought about it, it made perfect sense. She was worried her autistic child would contract COVID-19 and bring it home to them. This seemed selfish to me until she further explained.
“My husband and I are worried that we’ll get the virus, die, and then nobody would be there to take care of Manuel.”
That’s a fear I’ve never had do deal with, and I know there are enough stressors out there for parents without learning disabilities and a deadly virus.
Studies have found the following about mothers of learning disabled children:
· 95% have anxiety about their child’s school performance
· 51% have anxiety regarding their child’s behavior
· 90% have anxiety about their child’s future
Like Manuel’s mom portrayed…that’s a lot of anxiety!
To make matters worse, most parents can picture their newborn baby, the feel of soft blankets as those sweet eyes gazed up at them. So many hopes…so many dreams.
Then, as that little bundle grew and talked and formed a personality, those hopes grew. Doctor? Scientist? Truly, it didn’t matter as long as she was happy.
Then, when that first report card came, that sick sense of dread settled in their stomachs. Something was wrong. Maybe he would outgrow it. Maybe if they just made her work harder…
Without proper intervention, learning disabilities don’t just disappear. Kids don’t outgrow autism. Dyslexia doesn’t just fade away into the night. ADD/ADHD doesn’t even respond effectively to medications most of the time.
That’s a lot of worry.
But it gets worse. There’s more bad news.
Several studies reveal higher divorce rates among parents of struggling students. Even worse, these studies also reveal that mothers carry the burden more than fathers. This only makes sense, as in traditional families, mothers are the caregivers.
This has been common news for parents of autistic students, but these studies reveal that parents of children with ADHD are now showing higher level of divorce rates.
From my work with children, I believe it. Time and again, I’ve heard fathers tell their children, boys especially, that they are just lazy, to work harder. That nothing is wrong. Kids today are just soft…
I could go on, but you get the drift.
My own marriage didn’t survive a child’s learning disability. We also have a hearing-impaired child, and that was just more fuel on a fire that couldn’t withstand my “over-parenting and over-worrying”.
I have good news. Both of my “wounded bird” children are grown now, college educated, happy and enjoying a rich life. My hearing-impaired daughter is going to medical school this fall.
We made it. But it wasn’t easy.
To be honest, it was really stressful!