We all worry and get angry, but we don’t realize how much these emotions affect us. Even relatively minor concerns can compete for our attention, occupy our thoughts, and distract us from our purpose.
For most of us, the worry and anger is not intense. It’s short lived. But many chilren with reading disabilities and other learning disabilities don’t get over it. The intensity increases. This, in turn, adds to the difficulties they have attending, concentrating, and remembering. They waste valuable time and energy on nonproductive thoughts, impeding their learning.
Some children with reading disabilities, for example, dwell on past failures; they tell themselves they’ll never stop failing. Others focus on what they think is the unfairness of their situation, the poor treatment they get, and the likelihood that these injustices will only get worse. Still others worry about disappointing their parents and teachers, as well as the shame and embarrassment they feel when they compare themselves to classmates, siblings, and friends.
So, a pattern develops: failure, worry, poorer attention and concentration, lower productivity, continued failure, increased worry. Over time, a fatalistic attitude characterized by helplessness, hopelessness, and despair may result.
To reverse the situation, schools and parents must do three things. First, examine how the instructional situation can be modified to ensure success. Second, provide highly skilled counseling. And third, make sure that each day children with reading disabilities have ample opportunity to do something they absolutely enjoy. It can be playing with their DS for 20-minutes, playing ball with friends, or helping their parents paint the kids’ rooms.