If your child with a learning disability is spinning out of control emotionally and behaviorally and you start looking for a therapeutic school or program, how do you go about that?
First, if you can, get a current psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation. This will help measure and describe the interplay between the current behavioral distress and his or her learning profile of strengths and weaknesses.
Should you use an educational consultant or should you rely on information found on the internet?
You need to use both, your own due diligence and that of an excellent educational consultant.
If you rely on only one type of data and input source, you sell yourself and your child short.
Choosing the right placement is daunting, emotionally charged and carries both high risk and tremendous opportunity. That’s why having someone who is more objective, knows programs and Learning Disabilities can be so helpful.
Finding a placement that understands how the LD helped to create the distress in the first place is vital. More than that, finding places that know how to avoid pitfalls in therapy that result from processing issues (of both the therapist and the student) is also vital.
It’s not that therapists need to be LD experts. However a therapist having a working background of LD can be a hugely important ingredient for success. If the therapist is otherwise talented in creating a therapeutic alliance with your teenager and adept at creating the same alliance with the placement consultant who is a strong and nuanced advocate for your teen’s learning style, then you really have a team.
There’s a growing openness and awareness among some in the therapeutic community on this impact of LD. Recently I was speaking with Dr. J Huffine of Second Nature Wilderness Program, Cascades. In a recent conversation I had with “J,” his description of his team creating a type of written menu of problem-solving options for one of his teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder was so heartening to hear. He’s the type of therapist in the wilderness setting that I’m talking about, knowledgeable in his own right (about LD) and also open and humble in creating alliances with LD professionals such as me. Second Nature as a company shows lots of promise and history of being such an organization as a whole.
More on Dr. J Huffine and SNWP and in more detail in a subsequent post.