Successful/unsuccessful coping strategies for learning disabilities

Does anyone hereabouts have any experience in dealing with a child who seems “slow” whom you later realized had learning disabilities? If so, I’d like to hear your stories. Perspectives either from the pov of the learning-disabled child or the person attempting to help are welcome.

I ask because, as mentioned these threads and a few others , I’m a writer looking for material for a story. The characters in question are a 13-year-old boy, Andy, (the dyslexic in question) and his 16-year-old sister, JayJay. The story is set in 1986; the boy is having significant difficulties in school. The two siblings lack any substantial parental support: their father is dead, and their mother, Rose, emotionally withdrew from the family after being widowed.

Andy’s dyslexia is mostly a background issue. But I’d like some input from the group because …

  1. JayJay has been forced into a parental role since their father’s death and Rose’s emotional withdrawal; she is trying to help her brother academically but, because she doesn’t quite realize what the problem is, is not succeeding;

  2. Andy, having such great difficulty in school (he fails sixth grade, for instance) has come to believe that he is stupid, costing him his confidence in other ways and leading him to make a plot-critical mistake;

  3. Rose believes he is simply slow and, rather than work with him to help him overcome his problems, coddles him and sends him the message that he simply is not capable of understanding most things; and lastly

  4. Because of all the time JayJay has spent as her brother’s caretaker and tutor, he has come to lean upon her as his primary support, and Rose comes to feel that JayJay has ‘stolen’ her son’s love from her.

Anywhistle…as I said above, Andy’s learning disability is mostly a background thing. But I need to show that JayJay is attempting to help him improve academically, and also need her efforts to have basically failed because of her lack of knowledge. (She is fairly well overloaded, after all.)

Any assistance the group can proffer is fine. I may use this material in a confession story as well as the novel I’m working on. Thanks in advance for any help you’re willing to give.