NORWALK, Conn. – October is National Bullying Prevention Month, as well as National Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month and National Dyslexia Awareness Month. Norwalk neurologist Dr. Mark Goldenberg and other experts know that the issues are not mutually exclusive.
Goldenberg, owner of Brain Balance Centers of Norwalk, shared some tips for parents and teachers to help steer kids towards a more empathetic view of their peers with disabilities.
“To help children better understand learning and behavioral disorders and reduce the amount of bullying experienced during the school year, it is important that educators and parents have the right tools to talk with their children about these challenges and what it feels like to struggle with learning,” said Goldenberg.
About 28 percent of students experience some form of bullying between grades 6 and 12, according to surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Of those, 64 percent do not report the incidents to parents or teachers.
Children with learning disabilities are between more likely to experience bullying as their peers, Kids with ADHD are 10 times as like to be bullied, according to a study in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.
“So many students are in need of support from adults, other students, and community members to address this issue,” National Bullying Prevention Center Director Julie Hertzog said in a press release.
Goldenberg’s practice specializes in helping students with learning or cognitive conditions without using medications. In honor of October’s awareness campaigns, he has offered activities for parents and teachers to help students learn to empathize with kids like his patients.
For example, to teach kids what it feels like to have ADHD, adults can have them search through a packed locker or closet to find specific items. During their search, the parent or teacher should ask students questions to distract them from their task. They can also have students watch three movie clips at once, to give them an idea what it is like to be unable to focus on one activity.
Another activity would be to have them see what it is like to deal with dyslexia. By giving kids sentences of paragraphs with words or letters out of place, parents and teachers can allow kids to see how difficult it can be to read for their peers with dyslexia, Goldenberg says.
“These empathy activities serve as practical strategies that will promote both understanding and acceptance in local communities,” Goldenberg added.