Helping Canadian Kids with Learning Disabilities
A number of Canadian support organizations and centres offer assistance to children with learning disorders and difficulties. Territorial and provincial programs are also available and are administered locally. Financial assistance is available as well under provincial and federal government programs.
Learning centres across Canada provide support to parents to help children reach their full potential. They also offer programs that teach families how to parent with empathy and use positive communication to cope with behavioral problems.
Territorial and Provincial Programs
All Canadian schools are required to offer special education programs by law. Registration requirements vary depending on provincial or territorial policies and regulations. Benefits also vary by province. In Ontario, for example, parents are eligible to receive up to $470 a month under the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program. The funding covers equipment, medications, clothing, medical costs, and other expenses. Technology aids are also covered, including media service subscriptions, videogame systems, e-learning resources and activities, and tablets and laptops. In British Columbia, a number of services and programs are offered by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. These include early childhood intervention schemes, rehabilitation services, behavioral support programs, and child and youth worker assistance.
How Parents Can Help
While a wide variety of programs and services are available, it is important that parents support children emotionally as to help them develop self-confidence and positive image and reach their potential. To help kids advance in school, it is a good idea to identify their learning style, i.e. whether they are kinesthetic, auditory, or visual learners. Children who are visual learners, for example, benefit the most from pictures, maps, charts, diagrams, and other visual aids. Those who are kinesthetic learners, on the other hand, perform best when exploring, touching, and moving. Other activities to encourage include model building, role playing, using flash cards, and playing memory games. Auditory learners benefit the most from participation in study groups, spoken directions, and classroom discussions. It is a good idea to encourage them to join study groups and use verbal repetitions and word associations that will help them to better learn.
Foods to Include in Kids’ Menus
Healthy lifestyle is also important. Children that get enough exercise and sleep and eat a healthy diet focus better on school activities. Foods that help improve concentration include lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. More specifically, children with learning difficulties benefit from foods such as soy milk, chicken, eggs, broccoli, and berries. Eggs, for example, contain essential amino acids and protein and are high in choline which improves the nervous system and brain function. Broccoli is a vegetable that many children dislike but studies show that it improves the memory function.
Parents of children with learning disabilities are eligible to receive the child disability benefit. Basically, this is a tax-free monthly payment offered to parents looking after children with prolonged or severe mental or physical impairments. Only parents of children that qualify for the disability tax credit and Canada child benefit are eligible to apply. The payment amount is based on marital status, adjusted family net income, and number of eligible children. The maximum amount that parents can receive is $240.50 a month.
Learning Disabilities Associations in Canada
A number of Canadian associations help children and adults with learning disabilities, offering information, guidance, and support to ensure their participation and inclusion in society.
Learning Disabilities Association of Canada
Founded in 1963, LDAC works to ensure that persons with learning difficulties reach their full potential. It is a non-for-profit organization with about 10,000 members, including parents, physical education and public health personnel, psychiatrists, and optometrists. Its membership base also comprises administrators and members of school boards, educators, and language experts. The main focus of the association is on dissemination of information, research, education, and advocacy. Its key focus areas include family support, social interaction, early identification, and prevention.
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario
LDAO works to assist persons with learning difficulties and disorders through advocacy, strategic partnerships, innovation, and informed public policy. To help support individuals and their families, the association encourages legislative changes and research, offers guidance and support, and advances employment, vocational, medical, legal, recreational, social, and education opportunities for everyone in need. LDAO also works to disseminate information and raise awareness among professionals in the fields of employment, vocational training, health, justice and legislation, etc. In addition, the association offers online courses and workshops to educate parents and equip them with strategies to empower their children. High school students in Ontario are offered the Roy Cooper Memorial Scholarship to help finance their postsecondary education. Candidates enrolled in physical sciences programs meet the criteria.
Learning Disabilities Association of British Columbia
LDABC offers resources and information to ensure the full inclusion of adults, youth, and children in society. With chapters in Williams Lake, Vernon, Surrey, Vancouver, and Victoria, the organization works to advance the social rights of persons with learning difficulties, including their legal, social development, employment, and education rights. Areas that have been singled out as being in need of improvement in the field of education policy include accountability mechanisms, specialist and teacher training, and remediation and assessment programs. The organization offers a wide selection of courses, webinars, meetings, virtual recruitment receptions, and other events. The virtual recruitment receptions are designed for professionals, recent graduates, and students in the field of technology and operations.
Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto
Operating as a non-for-profit charity, the association offers information and programs targeting parents, newcomers, adults, and children. It also organizes presentations for schools and community groups, public events, seminars, conferences, and professional development days. Direct programs are also available, including:
- Support groups
- Seniors programs
- Youth groups
- Assistive technology training
- Social skills
Among its work areas are also public awareness activities, advocacy, and guidance to guardians and parents regarding children’s education rights. The association’s resource center offers access to materials, videos, and books.
Children are offered different programs and activities such as yoga and mindfulness, social and life skills programs, and typing and technology. The Friendship Club targets children aged 5 – 13 and helps them to master social skills. Focus areas include self-confidence and self-esteem, coping with stress, problem solving and active listening, and compromising. Children also learn about non-verbal communication such as tone of voice, facial expression, eye contact, and body language. Mastering social skills and socializing with peers are beneficial for children with ADD, ADHD, and learning difficulties.