Guest blogger Lis Merlo offers tips to help your disabled child get through exam season.

Three Ways to Help Your Disabled Child Get Through Exam Season (Guest Post)

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Whether mid-terms or finals, whenever exam season approaches stress levels can easily rise. Hence, my honor to welcome mother, teacher, and foster carer Lisa Merlo as a guest blogger today. In her post Lisa will discuss the unique challenges your disabled child may face taking exams. More importantly, Lisa offers three ways you can help your child get through these potentially stressful times with minimal stress. Everybody, please welcome Lisa!

Exam season is stressful for all children, but disabled children can often face additional difficulties that may make getting through their exams even harder. However, with a little additional support, it’s more than possible for your child to achieve the results they want and get through their exams with minimal stress.

Here we take a look at three helpful ways to help your child get through exam season.

Lisa's first tip for helping your disabled child get through exam season is understand your child's unique challenges.
Photo: Ben Mullins

1. Understand the unique challenges your child faces

Different disabilities can pose unique challenges for children when it comes to exams. For example, dyslexia can make it hard for children to concentrate on revision and commit information to memory. Some children may struggle with anxiety and need coping mechanisms to help them cope with exam pressure, whilst others may need extra time to complete their papers. Cerebral palsy can cause children to tire easily during study sessions, due to motor coordination difficulties.

It’s therefore important to talk with your child and ask which area they are most concerned about, as well as consulting with your child’s teachers to understand which aspects of the exams they can provide support with. Once you know the challenges facing your child, you’ll feel better prepared to be able to help them cope.

Make sure your child also has plenty of opportunities to ask for support or voice their struggles during the exams. Regularly check in with them and ask how they’re getting on both in school and during their study sessions at home, being sure to remind them often that it’s okay to ask for help when they need it.

Lisa's second tip for helping your disabled child get through exam season involves boosting their confidence and celebrating their skills.
Photo: Christopher Ryan

2. Boost their confidence and celebrate their skills

Research has found that students with disabilities may be at risk of low self-esteem and self-concept, and the pressure of exams may exasperate these feelings. Sometimes, disabled children feel less confident in themselves and have difficulty perceiving and evaluating their qualities.

This can make it harder for them to feel motivated to study for exams, perhaps because they don’t believe they’ll be successful. One of the best ways to help your child sail through their exams is to boost their confidence by reminding them regularly of their achievements and their talents.

Regularly celebrate your child’s strengths, accomplishments, skills and qualities both in and outside of school to remind them that their performance during exam season doesn’t define their success or value as a person.

Lisa's third tip for helping your disabled child get through exam season entails encouraging frequent breaks and opportunities to socialize.
Photo: Kevin Delvecchio

3. Encourage frequent breaks and opportunities to socialize

It’s important for all children to take regular breaks and time away from studying. Breaks help us to maintain higher levels of focus and motivation, and they help our brains to process and learn new information properly.

Having adequate downtime also gives children vital opportunities to socialize with friends or spend time pursuing their hobbies, which will help to keep them feeling positive and protect their mental wellbeing from stress and burnout.

For disabled children, breaks may also be important to ensure their physical healthcare needs are met. Create a study schedule with your child so that they know when to take breaks to recharge. Incorporating  a combination of long and short breaks and planning fun activities in between will help your child stay motivated and feeling positive about their exams.

Reduce the pressure of exam season!

Disabled children may feel under excess pressure during exam season, so it’s important for parents and carers to try and alleviate negative feelings as much as possible. By providing support both at home and at school, plus keeping the atmosphere calm and relaxed and reiterating that exam success doesn’t define us or make or break our success in life, your child should be able to complete their exams successfully.

More About Lisa:

Lisa Merlo headshot.

As a mother, teacher and foster carer, Lisa knows all too well how stressful exams can be for school aged children and teenagers. She strives to educate adults on how to support children through these difficult years and encourage them to succeed and believe in themselves.

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