You know that little voice inside your head that begins to call to you once become a parent - the one that tells you your child may be running a fever, or dealing with a bully, or feeling left out? Has that voice ever told you something is different about how your child learns?
As the admissions director at a school for dyslexic children, ninety percent of parents tell me they always suspected something was “going on.” Many have even voiced this to their child’s school, only to be told their child is “just fine.” Or, “she’s young for the grade,” or “he’s a late bloomer.”
But in spite of all these assurances to the contrary, you know something just isn’t clicking for your child academically. Sure, their grades may be good, and their teachers are pleased with their progress, but your child has begun to resist going to school. He may often have headaches or stomach aches that make going to school impossible.
Or it could be that you have begun to see signs of irritation and resistance to school tasks. Homework may have become a time filled with dread for the whole family. Nudging to complete assignments is met with anger and tears. You wonder if your child is just being difficult or lazy. Your child may come home from school in tears. The truth is that there is no such thing as a lazy child. Children can learn to be avoidant if they are frustrated by their learning experience. In fact, there is an excellent book about children’s desire to please, The Myth of Laziness by Dr. Mel Levine.
My advice to you is to listen to your gut. You know your child better than anyone on the planet and if you suspect something is different, it probably is. And the sooner you do something about it, the better. Most parents have a tendency to listen to the experts . . . those teachers at school to whom you entrust your child. And in most cases, this is exactly what you need to do, unless you suspect a learning difference. Teachers are wonderful, educated, compassionate people who teach because they love children. But it is important for you to understand that most teachers are not experts about dyslexia. Typically dyslexic children present as very bright, verbal learners, and it is hard for teachers to recognize that they aren’t performing to their potential.
If that inner voice is telling you something is going on, reach out to your school system or an independent psychologist to have your child tested. Ask for a complete psychoeducational evaluation. This testing will either confirm your suspicions or put your mind at rest. If your child is dyslexic, congratulations! She has an amazing mind that is designed to do incredible things! But dyslexia makes learning to read and spell more difficult. Children with dyslexia need to be directly taught how to break down words (decode) in order to be able to read. They need to be taught to spell directly, developing an understanding of the rules and generalizations underlying the complex language that is English. Help unlock your child’s potential by getting the help he needs to be successful. With diagnoses in hand, you will be able to determine just what is interfering with your child’s learning.
For information about dyslexia, please visit the website of the Orton Gillingham Academy. You may also contact your local branch of the International Dyslexia Association. There you will find information about dyslexia, suggestions for remediation, and steps to take to work with your local school to obtain accomodations for your child.
Parents are amazing people. You are finely attuned to your child’s needs and fiercely determined to get her the help she needs. You can be an amazing advocate for your child . . . just learn what he is dealing with and then search out local resources to provide that help.
Most importantly of all, enjoy your dyslexic child!