How to Adapt Your Home to Support a Learning Disabled Child


Dana Stahl, a learning specialist and educational consultant, will address educational questions and concerns that parents may have regarding their children’s academic development and progress in school. Topics center on such concerns as how to handle homework dilemmas or what questions to ask at a CSE meeting. Questions can range from “How best do parents advocate for their children?” to “How do parents interpret formal tests that have been administered?” to “Which schools and colleges are right for my child?”

Readers can write to Dana at Dana will respond to one reader’s question a month. Dana hopes that her response will alleviate parents’ concerns and offer useful educational advice.

Q. How can parents adapt their homes to support their LD children?

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A. Children who have been classified as learning disabled and who attend public school receive special education services in school. Assuming that learning disabled children receive help for their cognitive and perceptual difficulties during school hours, the question that arises is: “What happens to these children after 3:00 pm?” The difficulties that they encounter go home with them! Therefore, if these children have right-left directionality problems, then they could have difficulty using the stovetop or deciphering hot and cold on faucets. If they reverse their numbers in school, then they could reverse them dialing, or in setting an alarm clock. This article discusses how parents can support their children within their own home.

Children who have problems associated with learning disabilities may be able to function more efficiently and successfully in the various rooms of their home if there have been physical adaptations of their home environment. After all, up to half their time is spent within the home. Organization is essential for the optimal physical environment of the home. Since most of these youngsters lack organizational skills, structure must come from elsewhere. To facilitate their children’s development, parents must act as teachers at home and rethink the use of appliances, for example, and the physical space of their homes.

Physical adaptations do not necessarily improve visual-perceptual, spatial-relation, auditory-perceptual, or tactile-kinesthetic. These physical adaptations, however, allow many children to use each room of their home efficiently and successfully.

The populations that will most likely benefit from the physical adaptation of their home are children who have trouble with right-left directionality, spatial-relationship, and organizational skills.

 As a child, the author experienced some of the above challenges and had a great deal of difficulty using appliances correctly. The following suggestions are designed to help children who experience similar difficulties.

For example, children who have right-left directionality problems and attempt to operate both electric and gas ranges often become greatly confused. The numerous gadgets surrounding the perimeters of the ranges are bewildering to some learning disabled children. Some stoves list the burners as LF, LR, RF, and RR. These letters stand for Left, Front, Left Rear, Right Front and Right Rear. For children who have right-left directionality problems, this labeling is worthless. Simple adaptations made by parents and placed on the ranges would eliminate confusion and foster their child’s independence. Parents can color code their stoves for easy-to-use directions. Make the right side red and the left side blue. In black write the letters F and B for front and back. Place these cards on the wall directly above the stove. Children with right-left directionality problems will gradually learn to associate their right side with red and their left side with blue. Children with spatial-relationship challenges will use the color-coded charts to orient themselves.

How kitchen and bathroom cabinets, closets, and drawers are organized is essential for learning disabled children. The proper arrangement will enable them to easily locate specific articles. Children with poor spatial-relationship challenges, short-term memory issues and figure ground problems all need organization of space in order to locate particular items. To organize drawers, use compartmentalized or divided drawers. The dividers for storing flatware in the kitchen are perfect for organizing drawers in the bathroom. This system of organizing your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, closets and drawers will greatly aid in your children’s ability to find what they are seeking.

For more information on how to create physical adaptations of your home environment for your LD children, contact Dana directly.

Dana’s educational consultant practice focuses on assessment, advocacy and school placement for students with learning disabilities and social-emotional challenges.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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