This is What Success with Learning Disabilities Looks Like

It is hard to know what success looks like when your child is diagnosed with a learning disability. You find that some obstacles can be overcome, but for others s/he will have to take the long way around again and again. Even when they get the help they need, students with learning differences can feel overwhelmed by the challenges they face, and they must continually overcome self-doubt. This week, we would like to share with you a glimpse of what success looks like.

Brooks J A  2010_smFrom James Brooks, President of our Board of Trustees and proud parent of a Kingsbury graduate:

When a half-dozen people with initials after their names (Ph.D., MD, etc.) tell you that your child has learning disabilities, the feelings you experience range from relief to sadness, to hopefulness, to confusion. How, I found myself wondering, am I to proceed? In whom do I trust? Where can I find capable and caring people to help me make the right choices for my child?

My questions led me to The Kingsbury Center. The school leaders listened as I shared with them all my hopes and fears for my son, who was in need of help. These folks did not tell me what to do, nor did they offer me advice. Rather they asked questions, learned about my child, and provided a range of thoughtful options for further exploration. Here, I thought, were a group of people who genuinely supported my family and me, people who earned my trust, and ultimately, my enduring gratitude.

My child attended the Kingsbury Day School for many years and made use of all their services — tutoring, diagnostic and psychological services, occupational therapy and speech and reading support. In June of 2014 he graduated from the Upper School program with a high school diploma and awards for his performance.

He enrolled at the University of Arizona this August and has been struggling through from the beginning. I say “struggling” without reservation or anxiety. As a practical matter, my son is likely to struggle all of his life to one degree or another. There are attention problems, executive function problems and auditory processing problems, all of which have improved, but none of which are ever likely to disappear.

What Kingsbury gave my son is a set of skills to help him deal with his challenges and the courage to not let his learning difficulties define him or his future. Not surprisingly, he also gained some lifelong friends along the way, both youths and adults. 

For my part, Kingsbury has become the center of my volunteer activities. The Book Festival, the Arts Salon, the Science Fair, the Spring Festival, Back-to-School Night, the Annual Fund, and more recently, The Board of Trustees. I am completing my sixth year as a trustee. Whatever contributions I have made over the years seem a small matter when compared to what my child takes with him into adulthood.

For my family and me, Kingsbury proved to be the ideal learning environment for my child. He received the transformative educational and social experience that he needed. At a time when I needed people to trust, Kingsbury was there.


James A. Brooks resides in Washington, D.C. and is currently the President of the Board of Trustees of The Kingsbury Center.

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