This site is about dyslexia. I am not an expert in dyslexia but I am the mother of a dyslexic child and I want to share my journey, discoveries, and experiences as I walked from identifying dyslexia to EMBRACING dyslexia.
I realized my son was dyslexic at the beginning of grade 2 when he was 7 years old. Home reading was a torture and we would often end up yelling at him because he wasn’t getting anything and he would yell out of frustration. He just couldn’t read and his handwriting was hopeless. What was more alarming was that he kept saying he is stupid. That’s when mama bear jumped in because I knew he wasn’t stupid and there must be a reason he can’t read. As I was reading about the signs of dyslexia, I identified almost all in my son so it was pretty clear to me what was wrong with him. I wasn’t so heartbroken because there are lots of super smart people out there who did amazing things and who are or were also dyslexic. I just saw a little boy who needs a bit of remediation and he’ll be fine.
My husband and I soon found ourselves ALONE in this “battle” as the school did not help and not because they didn’t mean well, but just because the teachers are very ignorant. They don’t know because they are not taught. They teach reading yet nobody teaches them how to teach reading.
I started going straight to intervention, there was no more time to waste on a diagnosis or convincing the school and so we did a reading program called Easyread, which helped him greatly. He started to read. I was pleased. At the same time, I was reading to him at night Hank Zipzer, which is the story of a dyslexic boy written by a dyslexic person, Henry Winkler with excellent humor. Paul identified himself with the character a lot and he realized that Hank was not stupid. He started understanding as well what dyslexia is and so the feeling of shame started to leave him as he was getting to know himself and as he was cracking the code of reading. Easyread and Hank Zipzer were lifesaving in our case.
You also need to know that dyslexia is expensive if you are not relying on schools like we do but I strongly advise parents not to wait for schools to identify them and offer them intervention if they can afford to take things in their hands. After Easyread, we started helping him with Math and spelling. Spelling is a big problem (especially when you are dealing with English), even bigger than reading and it is well known that dyslexics will never be good spellers. So dyslexia involves tutoring. As it is expensive to hire tutors many parents become ” the experts”.
Another important thing I discovered: I discovered Ben Foss’ book “The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan” and there I found out for the first time that dyslexia is not only about deficiencies and a dyslexic child is not broken. It is simply an identity. I started seeing Paul’s strengths thanks to this book. The book also addresses the biggest problem in my opinion with dyslexia, even bigger than reading and writing, SHAME. Ben’s book speaks to the heart. After that, I discovered another amazing book: “The Dyslexic Advantage” by Fernette and Brock Eide, which is scientifically based and speaks to the brain. This book analyses the patterns of strengths and weaknesses. Then I became fascinated by the dyslexic brain.
What should the future bring for us? I intend maybe two more years of remediation programs, after which we switch gears towards technology so Paul can do his work independently and more efficiently, using text to speech and speech to text, scribe for taking notes, etc… We already started using audiobooks and he can enjoy great books that are too hard for him to read. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS play to their strengths, as Ben advises.
Thanks to dyslexia, I have a completely different view on EDUCATION. So far, school has injected this serum in me and I believed that reading and knowing facts measure intelligence. We all come from this SCHOOL. If you think harder, aren’t reading and writing just a means of getting somewhere? Is reading with the eyes the only valid way of getting information? Ben Foss says there are 3 types of reading: EYE READING, EAR READING AND FINGER READING. If you can’t read with the eye, should you be denied access to information? If you can’t climb stairs because you are in a wheelchair should you be denied transportation? NO. We build ramps for wheelchair users. Dyslexics need ramps in order to survive their schooling and should not be expected to do things like the mainstream. We don’t even need to build the ramps for them. They already exist. Just allow them to use them. Isn’t communication more than reading, writing and speaking? What is more important: knowing facts or knowing how to connect them? I think it is common sense to conclude that with the rise of technology, we no longer need students who are good at regurgitating facts, but we need critical thinkers and problem solvers. Nowadays we google everything, we don’t need to memorize and why is spelling so important? We use spell check, even university professors expect students to spell check their work and it is not considered cheating. You are considered lazy if you submit a work with errors and don’t use spell check. Handwriting will probably soon disappear. It’s time to let go of the PAST and march towards the FUTURE. I never thought that I would ever say this but I am saying it now: AMEN to TECHNOLOGY and DYSLEXIA IS COOL!!!