By Dr. Judah Weller
Educational Director at PTACH
It is doubtful that a parent or specialist would shield a child who is struggling with diabetes from clearly understanding the ailment and its treatment. Yet, the single most common mismanagement of learning difficulties is the failure to provide children with a thorough understanding of the many aspects of the learning struggles that beset them. Conversely, when a diagnosis is clearly explained and an educational program is developed with the child’s knowledge and understanding, future success is almost always assured.
In PTACH programs, understanding and acceptance are achieved through a process known as demystification. Children need to understand the reasons why they are having problems in school. Too often, students misperceive their weaknesses as far worse than they are, resulting in despair. Failing to demystify learning differences–which happens when parents ignore, hide, or wish away learning differences as something their child will outgrow–puts children at risk of failure in school, damage to self-esteem, and negative social behavior.
Having a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses, however, is extremely helpful and a tremendous relief to children with learning differences. It is both soothing and empowering for students to have the exact words to describe their conditions and advocate for themselves. And it is imperative that this dialogue continues over the course of a child’s education, individually and in group settings.
Discussions to demystify learning differences can happen in many different ways, yet there are certain important factors that must not be overlooked, such as destigmatization, infusion of optimism, and defining areas of strengths and affinities. Many well-meaning professionals cover some or most of them, but–as is usually the case without specific knowledge–one may miss points important to a particular child. PTACH’s professionals are trained to have those discussions with children and their families.
At PTACH, our overriding goal is to build resiliency in our children. Resiliency is the key to future success–graduating school, pursuing careers, and beyond. Demystification is the foundation on which resiliency is built.
PTACH is an organization whose mission is to provide the best possible Jewish and secular education to children who have been disenfranchised because of learning differences. PTACH utilizes specialized teaching techniques in small classes, which are all part of mainstream schools. For further information or to come visit one of the PTACH programs–including girls’ elementary, boys’ elementary, and girls’ and boys’ high schools–contact 718-854-8600, ext. 102. v