Dyslexia. It’s a word many parents dread when they hear it in reference to their own children. What their “lay” minds take in is that they have a child who will face struggles throughout his/her schooling and in life. Dyslexia never goes away. There is no medication to mitigate the symptoms; worse, it is an invisible disability which (if undiagnosed) subjects the sufferer to lots of misunderstanding and criticism for things over which s/he has not control.
As parents research their child’s dyslexia and receive information from the experts, they come to understand many things that they want others to understand as well. Here’s 20 of them.
1. They read differently.
The brain anatomy of a dyslexic child is different. The area that understands language operates differently than the average individual’s. The brain has to translate symbols on the page of a book (for example) into sounds. The sounds then have to be combined to make meaningful words. The parts of the brain that do this are not as well developed with dyslexia, so affected children will have to engage different parts of their brains to compensate. Part of this compensation is enhanced by specialized reading programs which are research based and multi-sensory, as well as by audio books that allow kids to keep up with their classmates in school.
2. They cannot overcome dyslexia by reading more.
Those who do not understand dyslexia (including some teachers) think if parents just read to their children more, and if elementary aged children are just forced to read more, somehow the dyslexia will be “cured.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While reading to a dyslexic child has great benefits (I.E. information, exposure, stimulation of imagination), it will not help him/her become a better reader. Likewise, forcing a dyslexic child to just read more, in a traditional manner, only leads to frustration, anger, and behavioral issues. It is the equivalent of forcing an adult to go to a job every day at which s/he cannot perform the tasks and is not ever given the training to acquire the skills to perform them. How long would that adult remain on that job?
3. They are not lazy or unmotivated.
The undiagnosed dyslexic kid is often labeled as these things both in the classroom and at home. However, remember to consider the following issues:
– They may not hear multi-step instructions. While the 2nd and 3rd instructions are being given, their brains are still processing the first
– In school, during reading class, they are still de-coding the first sentence while classmates have moved on to the 5th or 6th.
– It takes them far longer to complete worksheets and tests. When they do not get things finished, the teacher may be inclined to keep them in from recess to make them finish. What they don’t understand is that this child is exhausted from the effort just to complete what he has, and needs a break just as much as his peers.
4. They often need tutoring outside of school.
If the tutoring is designed for kids with dyslexia, some studies have shown, the brain actually changes (this is called neuroplasticity) and “rewires” itself, resulting in enhanced reading skills. For the older student, facing essays and papers for which research must be completed, as well as the normal rounds of standardized testing that come at specific milestone points in schooling, tutoring for reading, writing, and test taking must continue. Private tutoring services that have specialists for kids with learning disabilities are numerous in both the United States and in the UK. With their help and their special approach, children with dyslexia can pass any type of exam.
5. They don’t “see” the world backwards.
Yes, they occasionally reverse letters and words, but that is because those words and letters appear differently to them on the printed page. What they view in the world, they often see holistically (rather than in detail). They have a grand ability to see what is “out of place.” Carol Grieder, a molecular biologist with dyslexia, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009 because as she looked at DNA molecules through a microscope, she saw something that should not be there. She discovered a new and extremely important enzyme that is today the subject of cancer and aging research. In this case, her dyslexia was a wonderful “gift” to the world.
One thought on “20 Things Only Parents Of Children With Dyslexia Would Understand”
Very interesting, quite a challenge for me to read. I’m an adult with dyslexia. I’m 52 now and was not Aware I was dyslexic till I was 29, before then I just thought I was stupid and this was often confirmed, by teachers and students through my school days in the 70’s and 80’s. Which still makes me very upset to this day and sometimes I have a little Private cry about it. I have done a lot with my life. Including training as a counsellor and art therapist, I am now training as a hypnotherapist. Which I’m enjoying. I’m finding technology so helpful to me these days and I wish it could have come sooner, because of all the struggles I’ve had over the years with learning. I’m very interested in having a computer program that can read what I have written back to me. As a dyslexic you don’t get much privacy when you write because you have ask someone to look over your work. I hope this is a helpful comment.