The day I told my 7 year old he was Dyslexic
Through all the tons of reading I have done over the last few months, I knew what I needed to do. As a parent I tried to keep it from my son. I didn't want to upset him. I didn't want him to feel different from everyone else, especially in the early years of school induced mean kid's clubs. We as parents are wired to do everything within our power to keep our kids from anti-good news, aren't we?
What I learned was that kids with Dyslexia know something is different. We think waiting until they are bigger to talk about it, is the best thing to do because surely they are too little to really comprehend something going on within themselves.
Kids with Dyslexia, even as early as Kindergarten, are feeling the affects of not being able to understand things the teacher is teaching.They already know. And covering it up to keep them from feeling different< is not the right way to handle it.
But how do I tell him? I struggled over this for weeks. How do I word it in a way that he will not feel dumb?
I waited until the moment presented itself and then I went for it. Luke was sitting at the kitchen counter and we were going over his weekly spelling words. He missed about half of the words on our mock test that we do every Thursday to get ready for the test at school on Fridays.
I saw the look on his face when he was writing checks next to the words he got right. I knew he had tried so hard. And his eyes told me exactly what his heart was feeling.
Sadness, hopelessness, confusion, frustration.
"Luke, I need to talk to you about something, I began.
"Do you know how frustrated you feel when you have trouble reading things in your classroom? Or how you study your weekly spelling words every single day, but you can't remember them on Friday? Well, there is a reason for that. You are Dyslexic. Do you know what that means?"
Luke was just listening to me with the occasional nod. I went on to tell him about Dyslexia. I told him that it doesn't mean he isn't smart. In fact, it means he will be gifted in other areas and that it will be fun to find out what those other areas are.
I told him the reason he struggles with reading and spelling is because he CAN learn it, but needs to learn it a different way than the teachers are teaching it. And that it is okay! I told him there are many kids with dyslexia and it really is quite common.
I waited, silently, for Luke to respond.
"Oh, so that is why the teacher never calls on me to read at reading time,"he happily replied.
(I made a mental note to go hug the teacher the next time I see her)
My point with this is, kids know something is not right. We can try to protect them from the facts all we want to, but all it does it prolong the time they spend knowing they are different and then being confused over why they are different.
I wish I had started being honest about it a year ago because I know my son feels relief now. Even at 7 years old, he is mature enough to be happy now that we are talking about his struggles.
Because let's face the facts; Not talking about it only makes the child feel dumb. He feels like everyone else is smarter than he is. And he keeps all the low self esteem feelings tucked deep inside him while he smiles enough so that no one knows he is bothered by anything at all.
I learned to be honest. Dyslexia is fairy common. 1 in 5 kids have it. The symptoms range from very mild to very severe.
If your child is struggling in reading, you can request the school to test your child. They are required by law to offer testing if you request it. You are also entitled to a 504 or IEP plan that will give alternative reading instruction if your child needs a different way to learn the material.
95 % of reading failure is preventable by using special reading systems such as Orton-Gillingham, AND having well trained teachers.
I have learned that these are things you have to ask for. Most schools are not going to volunteer this information. In fact, most schools will try to sweep it under the rug, and then tell your child AND you to read more at home.
So don't wait. The earlier you can intervene the better success your child will have.