Learning disabilities are brain-based disorders, most students are not diagnosed with a learning disability until later in life. Until those undiagnosed children are eligible for special education services, they must learn to developing cope strategies to deal with their disability.
A common coping strategy used by most undiagnosed children is peer support.
This is when an undiagnosed child seeks out a classmate, who is willing to provide academic help by talking-out the main points of a teacher’s lesson or sharing and comparing responses to a class assignment. As these students communicate with one another, they enter into a peer support relationship. Neither one of the children perceived this relationship as negative or exploitatory. To the undiagnosed youth, this classmate is perceived as a tutor in the classroom, which is necessary for his or her academic success.
Another way undiagnosed children manage their disability is by relying on family members.
Like their classmates, these children families provided academic assistance, but more importantly; they look after their kids’ self-esteem. It is typically for undiagnosed youth to consider themselves as stupid, slow, or dumb- which based on academic comparisons with their peers. Family members help their children feel smart by acknowledging their efforts and praising their progress. They also tend to highlight their strengths in non-academic areas.
Undiagnosed children will face many academic trials throughout their K-12 experience.
In order to meet theses challenge, they must believe in their intelligence. These children will be judged by their school community. Their school community may perceive them as “lazy” for their inability to complete their school work quickly and independently.
If the undiagnosed child is repeatedly told this message, they will eventually begin to doubt their potential to evolve into a successful student. These self-doubts – in time- develop into a defeatist self-image.
Rather than letting these “negative perception” overcome them and drain their resolve, some of these children find a way to prevail in school. Many of these undiagnosed children learn how to direct their teachers’ and classmates’ attention towards their academic strengths. They also develop a homework routine to help them process concepts so they do not lag behind. These kids do not allow their school community to knock them down, instead they figure ways to better themselves academically.
Living with an undiagnosed learning disability is a painful struggle for many of these children. It takes many years for these children to develop coping strategies to help others accept that they are intelligent and can excel in a variety of academic settings.