Talking with family & friends

6 Ways to Change the Conversation About Learning and Attention Issues

By The Understood Team

6Found this helpful
6Found this helpful

It can be hard to know what to say to others—relatives, other parents, coaches—about learning and attention issues. Some may have never heard of them. Others might have misconceptions about them or be dealing with them for the first time. Here are some ways to reframe the conversation.

1 of 6

When people are judgmental: “If a blind person uses braille to read, we don’t think of it as cheating.”

Some people might not be supportive about your child using accommodations or assistive technology in school. They might even call such supports “cheating.” A statement like this can help them better understand that your child isn’t getting some sort of advantage.

2 of 6

When people don’t “see” the issue: “You expect that someone in a wheelchair can’t climb the stairs. But not all challenges are visible.”

Some experts describe learning and attention issues as “hidden issues.” This is because you can’t tell if someone has learning and attention issues just by looking at them. Comparing them to a physical disability could be a helpful way of explaining that just because their challenges aren’t always visible, kids with learning and attention still have issues.

3 of 6

When people don’t get the problem: “If the radio has static, you wouldn’t just turn up the volume. You’d try to tune in.”

Some people aren’t familiar with learning and attention issues. When you meet someone who’s never heard of them—even someone in your own family—it may be helpful to use a relatable analogy. This quote was a suggestion from a parent in the NCLD Facebook community who was told that her child with auditory processing disorder should try using a hearing aid.

4 of 6

When one parent has trouble accepting: “Our child has strengths and weaknesses, just like you and I do.”

This could be a good way to talk about learning and attention issues with a spouse or partner who has trouble accepting them. You could even make a list of each of your own strengths and weaknesses, and then your child’s.

5 of 6

When grandparents don’t understand: “I know you love your granddaughter. Let me explain her challenges in school.”

There’s more information available now about learning and attention issues than there was in years past. It’s sometimes difficult to talk to your child’s grandparents about what your child is facing at school and elsewhere. If you do need to talk about learning and attention issues with your child’s grandparents, you could start the conversation like this—from a place of love.

6 of 6

When siblings feel left out: “Do you feel like your sister’s getting all the attention? Let’s come up with a plan to fix that.”

One child’s learning and attention issues can sometimes be difficult for siblings to cope with. They might feel like they need to compete for your attention. Try to find out what’s tough for them and work together to find solutions.

View the tips again

6 Tips for Responding When People Are Insensitive

Do you feel like you constantly have to explain your child to people? Use these tips to respond to insensitive comments and questions about your child with learning and attention issues.

10 Tips for Keeping Your Relationship With Your Partner Strong

Raising a child with learning and attention issues can place a lot of stress on the relationship between you and your partner. Use these ideas to keep your marriage or partnership strong.

About the Author

Understood Team

The Understood Team

The Understood team is composed of passionate writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

More by this author

Did you find this helpful?

More to Explore

  • Parenting Coach

    Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges.

  • Tech Finder

    Find technology to help your child.

    Select platform or device
  • Through Your Child’s Eyes

    Simulations and videos to let you experience your child’s world.

  • Who to Call at Your Child’s School

    Not sure who to contact in certain situations? Download and fill out this form.

  • Back-to-School Book Lists

    Use these school-themed reading lists to get back into the swing of things.

  • Join a Group!

    A safe place for you to connect with other parents like you.

  • Teen With Dyscalculia Shares Her Story

    Hear from 2015 Anne Ford Scholarship winner Savannah Trevino-Casias.

  • Expert-Recommended School Tools

    Hear from teachers about the tools they use to help your kids.