Gretchen Bolen, Discovery Therapist
Friendship Follies, or Making Friends is Hard to Do?
For too many children, school is not just torture because of learning struggles, but also because they have a difficult time making or keeping friends. These relational difficulties are often caused by those same issues that make learning harder for them than their peers. Those who have both learning and social issues are being wounded daily by well-intentioned (and too often not well-intentioned) adults in their lives, as well as by their peers who tend to shun anyone who is “different”. Below is the story of one of our educational therapists, Gretchen. Be encouraged…and don’t be shy to ask for our help!
Imagine a scrawny 4th grade girl with lopsided pigtails and bruises all over her legs. Now imagine her standing up at bat, dreading the inevitable embarrassment when she will miss the ball and find herself in the midst of the groans and complaints of her classmates. She is often the last one to get picked for any team, physically awkward, and gullible.
In the classroom, despite her best efforts, her grades are low. She knows it. Everyone knows it. She wishes she could just find a place to hide. Her confidence is nearly non-existent and this has created a super sensitivity and anxiety in her young life. She is an easy target for teasing and those who don’t tease are hesitant to befriend her.
She’s shy and spending time with her is difficult. She’s so used to people poking fun, she sometimes misreads cues and thinks good-intentioned classmates are mocking her. It’s hard to have fun with her when you feel like you have to walk on egg shells to be her friend.
Fast - forward three decades and here I am. I’ve overcome dyslexia and can laugh at my lack of visual perception. I found success in high school and college and many friends and family members have helped to boost my confidence. My former super sensitivity has been replaced with compassion for students who struggle in the ways I once did. I’m thankful. I’ve met healing! I’m one of the lucky ones. My parents tried their best to understand and support me. Thankfully, I received the early interventions I needed to move beyond my learning difficulties. I’ve been granted an incredible support network. Despite all of these blessings, childhood was very painful for me. It left deep scars and it has taken a lot of love and many years to heal those old wounds.
Does my story sound familiar? Many students with learning challenges have similar experiences. They are smart but they can’t perform. They often misread social cues. Their confidence has been smashed and leaves them withdrawn or angry. Poor coordination makes them clumsy. Sensory issues may cause them to overstep boundaries or create boundaries that are too tight. They can’t take a joke and don’t know when to stop.
As a teacher, my heart broke for these children. I saw myself in them. They wanted to be a part of the group but just couldn’t break through. It’s a terrible feeling! If you hear your child’s story in mine, take heart. You are not alone and your little one or teen will make it through this - with your help!
Call us at 803-419-0126 to discuss how Discovery Therapies may be able to help YOUR struggling student.
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