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Peer Knowledge

Q – Should I share my child's learning disability with his/her classmates?

A – If classmates understand the student's disability, they may become allies in helping the child. School officials are not at liberty to discuss or share the student's disability with their classmates. Hence, it is the parents who will need to be in the forefront of this project.

 

Parents have different attitudes about sharing their child's disabilities with other classmates. For example, parents of a child with an obvious physical disability may feel comfortable speaking about it since it is apparent. However, parents of a child with a less apparent disability may not wish to draw attention. Parents who wish to keep it private may do so because they don't want to subject their child to any negative ridicule, bullying or embarrassment.

However, other parents and professionals find that educating the disabled student's peer of the disability has a positive effect. It helps classmates understand why the student is different. This understanding will help classmates understand the student's challenges and will be more inclined to help and be their friends.

My personal favorite story is of a teen named Carlos Guevara, one of the contestants on 2013 Season of the X-Factor. Carlos has Tourette's Syndrome, meaning he suffers from involuntary motor and vocal tics. His disability is so severe that he had to withdraw from high school. However, during the day of his first audition, his fellow classmates came to support him. Despite his disability, his peers were very accepting of his difference. This demonstrates that education is the key.

As a lawyer, I can assist parents in this process by working together with the special education teacher, psychologist and any other personnel that is involved in the student's school life to come up with the best plan.

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