A safe place for children with LD

It is vitally important that all people have a safe place. This is especially so for learning disabled (LD) people, who may experience the world as much less safe than most neurotypical (NT) people do. A safe place is one where the person is safe not just from physical harm, but from emotional harm as well. A safe place is somewhat different for children and adults.

For many LD people, the world is harsh. People can be intentionally cruel, they can also be unintentionally cruel. The former would be when a person is teased or bullied (either in person or via the net; either physically or emotionally). The latter occurs when people bring to mind the problems the person is having. Both can occur in other situations as well. A safe place is free from these dangers.

More than this, though, for many disabled people the world is hard. In fact, that is almost the definition of a disability: A disabled person (LD or physical disability) is unable to do easily what normal people can do easily. He or she may be unable to do it at all; or it may simply require more effort. Both are exhausting, emotionally. A safe place is one where this hardness is minimized, as well.

The exact nature of safety will vary from person to person as well; for a blind person, safety would perhaps concentrate on the physical nature of the space, and the sameness of the placement of physical objects. If a blind person knows exactly where things are, then he or she can navigate that space more comfortably and with less effort, and with much less risk of tripping, banging or breaking. For some LD people, safety will involve a lack of noise. For others, it will involve minimal visual distractions. But for all, it will involve emotional safety.

What can a safe place be?

For some, it can be home. For a child, if the parents set up the home so that it is safe, and are able to be emotionally safe for their child, then the home can be a safe place. But this requires a special set of abilities and efforts on the part of the parents. If there are other children in the family, that can make it harder, as parents have to devote time to all their children (and to themselves, as well!). No parents are superhuman; and some are, themselves, troubled with issues that make it hard for them to provide safety to others.

Adults can sometimes set up their own homes as safe places.

If the entire home cannot be made safe, it may be possible to make one portion of it a safe place.

However, some parents may be unable, for various reasons, to make any part of the home really safe. In this case, it may be necessary to find some alternative place. This can take a variety of forms. It could be a therapist’s office; it could be a relative’s home, or the home of a close friend of the family, or of the child. There are lots of possibilities.

Or a safe place could be something else entirely, depending on what disability is involved. It could involve:

  • A particular kind of lighting
  • Neatness
  • A place where you provide your own food
  • Control of position (that is, whether you are standing or sitting or lying down, and in what particular position)
  • Quiet
  • Noise
  • Available care and communication

But without a safe place, the person must be constantly on guard against all the many dangers of the world. That’s a horrible way to grow up and a horrible way to live; it stultifies and damages and prevents growth.


  1. This was a great article and something we just found out that we needed with our newly diagnosed 14 year old daughter. She has been a subject of bullying at school and it has gotten to the point where all she wants to do is stay home. We can\’t even get her to go to the store with us. Really makes us as parents of a child with NLD realize that these kids go through a lot everyday and we need to do everything we can to help them to relax whenever possible.

  2. I appreciate this article. My daughter was diagnosed with NLD at age 11 after several years of state custody, 7 foster placements, and 3 RTC placements, the last of which was 51 weeks long. From age 7y7mo she was medicated with ritalin, taken out of our home at age 8y2mo, coming home at age 10y11mo. Trust has been an issue since she was taken from me. She rarely feels safe. It seems just when that sense of safety at home is stabilizing, something occurs to disrupt the equilibrium. It doesn’t have to be much; an extended break in school, a family visit, etc. Each day is a struggle for both of us. We are both working separately and together with outside support. I must keep up hope that we will obtain a stable relationship and environment someday soon.

  3. Thank you.

  4. Beautiful…We ALL need a safe place. I look at my son and remember how very different he was as a child, and how hard things were for him in the beginning. Sometimes a safe place is just giving a person TIME to bloom.

    Wow, Barbara…you and your daughter are in my thoughts. It will take a lot of love to get over that.

  5. Fantastic article, Peter!!! I even had our non-NLD daughter read it so she could help our NLD daughter more.

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