What predicts success? A 2015 American study by the National Center for Learning Disorders found that having an Individual Education Plan wasn’t the most important factor. More important was having
- strong support from parents,
- a strong connection to friends and community, and
- a strong sense of self confidence.
1200 young adults (1-2 years after leaving school, both with and without diagnosed learning issues) were surveyed about their school experiences, results, hobbies, family structure, services received, and life satisfaction. The results showed students with learning and attention issues could be grouped into ‘Navigators’, ‘Copers’ and ‘Strugglers’. The Navigators had the most positive outcomes post secondary schooling. What set them apart was having a positive mindset, strong family support, self advocacy skills, mentor support, community connection, early intervention, positive messages and high expectations from others.
Parents can help their children become successful navigators by doing the following:
- Talk regularly with your kids about differences and disability.
- Share your own strengths and weaknesses to help your child identify theirs.
- Help children define themselves by their strengths, not their difficulties.
- Encourage them to be confident in their abilities, and persevere when challenged.
- Help them pursue their passions to boost self esteem and build community connections.
- Work with the school to develop an IEP (ILP in Australia) and transition supports.
- Include children in discussions about them.
- Act early – seek evaluations and assessments as soon as you have concerns.
- Tackle negative messages, teasing or low expectations from teachers and peers.
- Educate yourself; be informed about service options and supports, build collaborative relationships with experts.
- Connect with other parents and build your own support networks.
For more information on the study visit Student Voices: A Study of Young Adults With Learning and Attention Issues