Confessions of a Dyslexic Mom
Recently my son's kindergarten teacher asked me what it is like to be dyslexic. I tried to describe it, recalling things I have read or hear but I was having trouble. She wanted to know because I told her I suspected my son might also be. Dyslexia runs in families. She told me she didn't have any firsthand experience with dyslexia. I can see that. I imagine it would be pretty hard to identify in kids so young because the learning curve is steep for most kids at that age.
I had trouble explaining it because I don't know how to compare my experience to a typical one. A dyslexic mind processes things differently but what is it like to process things in a typical way, I don't know.
I had a hard time learning to read. I actually got a lot of extra help but it was still extremely difficult. I was tested in fourth grade and that was the year everything changed for me. As soon as I had a diagnosis I started doing so much better in school. I actually don't even know why the change occurred. I just remember reading finally started to click that year.
I can tell you it never goes away though. Like a lot of things some days are better than others. I have problems with reading and writing. I am always a slow reader but on some days reading feels like code breaking. I have notice some writing is easier for me to read than others. Big words are harder. Large print helps. Words strung together in a predictable, sequential order are easier for me to follow.
- I actually love the idea of reading and writing but in school they were frustrating experiences. To survive school I made a choice not to care about them and threw myself into art which I was good at.
- Big words are uncomfortable for me to even look at. If it is just a name and doesn’t affect my comprehension of the story and I am reading to myself, I will just skip over it. My kids love dinosaurs and Greek mythology but for story time I avoid these subjects.
- For this post I couldn’t spell dyslexia without spell check. Thank goodness for my iPhone, now spell check is always with me.
- Luckily I work in a profession full of bad spellers or it would be very embarrassing for me to take my turn at the whiteboard. Whatever causes difficulty with written language also seems to steer dyslexics to creative pursuits.
- My eight year old daughter has surpassed my spelling help, in fact she can now correct my spelling.
- I can't enjoy movies with subtitles unless I have access to pause or the dialogue is very sparse.
- To proofread I reread then visually, sequentially isolate each letter. I proofread blog post, tweets, comments, etc. and still constantly make mistakes.
- I am hyper sensitive to my mistakes and deficits. I wish I could say who cares. I do when I see other people's typos but I irrationally fear my own are reflections on my intelligence thanks to deep scares for my school years.
- Things that made me sweat in school were spelling tests and reading out loud. I will never be the one to volunteer to read publicly. It was especially humiliating to be corrected to classmates. If we were all quietly reading the same thing I would occasionally look around to see what page the other students were on and then jump ahead.
- I think I might even like the written word more than the average person but because reading can be so challenging, what I am reading has to be even that much more interesting to make it worth the effort.
- Dyslexia has made me especially anxious about my kids happiness, interest, and success in school.
- I have about a 350 page limit on books I can read from the library (if they are new). I just can't finish anything longer in two weeks.
- I did pretty well at math in school but I am not sure I would today since there is an emphasis on integrating reading and writing with math.
- One thing I do love is all the journal writing where spelling is not corrected. Everything I wrote in school was red marked. I can't tell you how many great words I avoided because I didn't know how to spell them.
- The phase "look it up" was always maddening to me. To look up words in the dictionary you already need to have a pretty good idea how to spell it. At some point in my early adulthood I found a bad spellers dictionary in the book store which I loved.
- I really do truly believe dyslexia is not a disability but rather a learning style. I have difficulties. For my learning style I need more time. I actually think this extra time allows me to learn at a deeper level.
Do you suspect your child might be dyslexic?
Does your child demonstrate a typical ability to learn in many areas but had trouble with reading and writing? If you suspect your child is dyslexic ask that he or she be tested. If your child is found to be dyslexic he or she will be entitled to extra help and extra time to complete assignments and test. As a parent, be patient and encourage your child. It takes infinitely longer for things to click and then they can still unclick. Finding books that interest your child is important but for dyslexic children it is even more important. Since reading is harder the book has to really be worth all that effort. Practicing reading and writing skills is important but also allow them plenty of time to do things that come more easily. This with help build confidence. People with dyslexia can learn to read and write. They can even do well in school. I did pretty well although I must admit the A's in my art classes helped inflate my GPA.
Dyslexia never goes away. Like I said, some days are better than others. It slows me down a little but it has made me a pretty creative person and it keeps me humble. I wouldn't want to be typical.
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I'm Ann from www.doodlesandjots.com where I blog about nature inspired creativity for kids plus some practical mom stuff too. My life long passion for art and my twenty years experience as a product designer has provided me with the skills and process I draw on for my posts and illustrated stories. I live on Cape Cod with my musical husband and inquisitive kids. I love being a mom and exploring, learning, and creating together!