I received a message on facebook from a gentleman who has a daughter with dyslexia. She’s in elementary school and faces challenges daily. He says it is something new every day… joked that at least it’s not boring. He asked if I’d write a post about my experiences with dyslexia and talk about how my parents dealt with it.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Well… we all take it as it comes – but of all the supportive things I remember my parents doing, the most important one was… they always encouraged me to be better, but they praised me when I did my best. I was one of the lucky ones because I was diagnosed early and got into special education in elementary school. So many people are adults before they are told they have dyslexia. That has to be so frustrating!
Bless my parents – they made sure that my grade school made use of my talents in music and encouraged the positives I had to contribute instead of focusing on the negatives – the spelling errors, illegible handwriting, careless errors in math, and length of time it took me to write an essay. I have wonderful memories of playing vibes in a music class performance. Nobody in my school made me feel stupid or inept. My teachers encouraged my talents, and I believe it’s because my parents were involved in my education.
Parents of dyslexic children have to keep their ears close to the door of the classroom. They have to be involved every step of the way. My mother had constant communication with not only the teachers but also the principal and everyone else responsible for my learning experience.
It wasn’t easy… homework was horrible! I went to bed crying every night because I felt so stupid. One thing I did learn early in life is that you need to resist the temptation to compete with smart kids. Our smart kid was Karen “Blythe” Watson. I heard through the grapevine that she is now a successful lawyer. I’m not surprised! Blythe was everything I wanted to be – I so wanted to be her. I don’t know why, but I was always invited to her slumber parties and I felt so COOL because the smart girl wanted me for a friend! Blythe had naturally curly hair – long and thick… in the 1970’s that was THE cool hair to have!
Keep your child in a good circle of friends because that’s going to help her self-esteem. If at all possible, surround her with the smart kids – because dyslexic kids are slow – but we’re not stupid. It takes us longer to notice stuff – but we get there. We are good and listening to others and catch on when we hear good ideas from smart kids. Our problem is with visuals – perceptions – concepts. We can learn! We are determined to learn… we just don’t learn the same way.
When they showed films in school – other kids were taking notes and I was wondering what they were writing down that I had somehow missed.
Even today visual learning is not good for me. Pop in a CD (back then it was a cassette tape – LOL) – and let me listen to it a couple of times – then I grasp the concept – if I can hear it without words on a screen or pictures – I can get it. I’m all about books on CD – love ’em!
I used to listen to my devotionals each day – and I still hop on the computer and listen to them! Reading weighs me down – I do read because I’m determined to overcome this disability… I’m stubborn. This isn’t going to win – it just isn’t.
Not every child learns the same way, and educators need to realize that.
Be your child’s biggest encouragement. People in the world will not be kind, so it’s up to you to find your child’s strengths and offer lessons to them. Pull the weeds – but make sure you water the flowers. The flowers I grew were musical. I took private piano lessons for many years every Thursday afternoon. I’m not a great pianist – but it’s something I was pretty good at – playing music makes me feel good.
Today I’m more well-rounded and I’m a better reader than I’ve been before. I’ve not read WAR & PEACE – but I read to entertain myself these days, which I never thought would happen. I do still have to follow the words with my finger – I don’t think that will ever change. My eyes tend to skip lines and twist words and numbers – so… it does get interesting sometimes.
I hope this post helps you as parents. Dyslexic kids are slow – but there are eye exercises that help (remember the pencil exercise – ??? Keep your eye on the lead portion as the pencil comes closer to your face… LOL). They said it would strengthen my eyes – I think it gave me headaches.
Let your child know that you understand their frustration and keep the lines of communication open with them about it. If they want to cry during homework time – let the tears come. Just cry with them and don’t make them feel worse or use a nasty tone of voice or mean words with them. It does not help.
Encourage your child to be better than she was yesterday. Don’t compete with others, but be more complete yourself! Comparison with others makes us feel like failures, but if we see our lives as God sees them, we will know that He gives us gifts and talents. Maybe I can’t do math in my head, but I can do some things that others can’t… so if you combine my gifts with the gifts of others – how cool is that? We sharpen one another’s iron and that makes everyone better, right? 🙂