When a child is diagnosed with Dyslexia, a parent’s reaction to the news and their subsequent actions, will determine how the child adjusts to being Dyslexic. The child needs to be told that Dyslexia means they learn in a different way and that there are positive aspects to Dyslexia as well as the negative ones. Dyslexia is not a disease! It is a language processing deficit and affects the acquisition of skills such as spelling, writing, reading and sometimes maths. But many Dyslexics have strengths and abilities that are directly linked to Dyslexia. They can think outside the box, excel at coding, art, music, drama and other activities that result from right brain strengths.
In Assist Dyslexia we have seen both positive and negative reactions from parents and we have watched these impact on the children. Initially, the majority of parents will understandably be upset that their child has been diagnosed with Dyslexia. No parent wants their child to experience difficulty acquiring literacy skills and they realise the journey through education will not be straight forward.
However, parents then have a choice. They can decide to try to learn as much as they can about Dyslexia and how they can ensure they support their child and explain it has good and bad aspects or they can see it as something that should be hidden and fail to explain to the child what exactly Dyslexia is. This can lead to a child feeling confused and ashamed, which naturally results in resentment and poor self esteem.
Parents who face Dyslexia head on attend courses explaining the concept, they trawl through the internet reading articles and personal stories and they invest in resources that enables them to support the child’s learning in the home. This ensures that the child is helped with homework. Work is done in half hour sessions with breaks built in and spellings are learned in a variety of ways. When a child misspells words they should know, such as whit for with and tarctor for tractor, they know that these are Dyslexic errors and are not because the child has not learned the spelling. They advocate for their child and explain to teachers the specific difficulties their child faces with his particular deficit. Praise is frequent and strengths are encouraged because these parents know it is important their child excels if they are good at athletics, football or computer coding. Progress is measured against self, not peers or siblings. All of this leads to confident children who understand their Dyslexia and who understand they can succeed in learning despite the fact that they have some difficulties. These children will recite the names of famous people with Dyslexia and they openly discuss Dyslexia with their friends.
Parents who do not understand Dyslexia cannot then explain it adequately to their children. They may try to hide the fact that their child has Dyslexia and they may tell the child not to tell anyone. This will leave the child believing there is something wrong with them. This lessens their self esteem and over time they become ashamed and resentful and may play up in school or withdraw into themselves. Homework can become a battle ground and the child may be criticised and told he is lazy, despite making errors that result directly from the type of Dyslexia he has. Some children even feel they have let their parents down and never realise Dyslexia is genetic and neurological and is not caused by the child not working hard.
In summary, it is essential that parents get educated about Dyslexia. They need to attend courses about Dyslexia. When the child is diagnosed, they need to understand which type of Dyslexia the child has and how they can support the child in school and at home. Books that explain how children should be told about Dyslexia are important as are articles about Dyslexic people who succeed in life, both celebrities and ordinary individuals.