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Coping with a Friend's Learning Disability

Dealing with a Disability in Friendship

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Coping with a friend's learning disability can be challenge, but it need not be overwhelming. Learn ways to cope with your feelings and theirs and to keep your friendship healthy and positive for years to come.

When Your Friend Learns About the Learning Disability

A Learning Disabled Boy Walks Home Alone
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When your friend first learns he has a learning disability, he may have mixed feelings about it. Some people are relieved to learn why they have difficulty learning. Others worry they may never overcome their disability. They may be so angry that they say or do things that hurt friends and family. Some may begin to avoid others and become loners because they want to hide their disability. Things to remember:
  • Understand that your friend's behavior may change toward you. Try not to take it personally.
  • Understand your friend's frustration will most likely improve over time.
  • Tell him his disability does not affect your friendship. You still want to be friends.

Your Friend May Not Understand his Disability

A Student Sits at her Desk; Frustrated by her Learning Disability
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Your friend may not fully understand his learning disability. She may not realize that having a learning disability does not mean she cannot learn. It does not mean that she is not smart. She may not realize that she is just as intelligent as other student and may be smarter than most. In fact, very few people really understand the truth about learning disabilities. Strange but true! Read this article on facts about learning disabilities, and share it with your friend and her parents. You'll be glad you did.

Coping with the Disability - Strive for Normal Relationships and Routines

A Learning Disabled Boy Walks Home With a Friend
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Sure, things may be different at first, but sticking to your usual friendship routines will help.
  • Continue favorite activities.
  • Treat your friend as your equal because he is.
  • Laugh together, tell jokes, see the humor in everyday life.
  • Show others your commitment to your friend by treating him the same at school and in public.
  • Be loyal to your friend when he's not present. If others make fun of him, nicely remind them it's not cool.
  • If your friend is down or wants to give up, encourage him. Remind him that no matter what the problem is, he can overcome it - It just may take longer.
  • Remind him we all have differences. Diversity is a strength.

Understand Your Friend's Parents May Be Stressed about the Disability

A Student Talks with a Counselor about a Friend's Learning Disability
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Your friend's parents may have difficulty accepting and coping with their child's learning disability. Your friend may be stressed by his family's difficulty coping. Share these articles with your friend or with his parents if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, maybe your own parent or a school counselor can help.

Take Care of Yourself - Staying True to Yourself is Important

Just as in all friendships, having a friend with a learning disability can be difficult at times. During those times, it is important for you to take care of your own needs.

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