How parents can support their child who’s struggled with dyslexia
Dyslexia isn’t just about difficulty with reading, writing, or math, but rather, is about what it takes to communicate information effectively, and how one communicates is determined by one’s abilities. For many individuals, especially children, dyslexia isn’t easy to identify, nor is it visible, but the fact remains that it’s a real disability that affects a significant number of children.
This may be especially true for kids from hard-to-read households, and when one is referred to a specialist or knows that a diagnosis is imminent, there is great anxiety.
All hope is not lost, however, as we’ve discovered how parents can support their child in working through that process. If you know someone who’s not being helped by the school system, here are some tips for your child’s success.
Don’t tell your child what they can’t do, but instead encourage them to do as much as they can. For children that struggle with dyslexia, it’s essential to help them understand what they can do. Children who believe they can’t do a certain task, task that would allow them to succeed, usually feel defeated. Instead, telling them they can do something will encourage them to do it.
Create a scenario for the child in question in which they’re doing what they can, their strengths and weaknesses, and if something is working well and shouldn’t be changed. It’s not helpful for a child to be told they’re bad at something, because then they know the answer so they aren’t motivated to do it anyway. Ask them a question to ask someone at school to explain, not to ask them which school or class they’re in. If they don’t believe in themselves enough, the failure to see the solution will often stop them from working.
Don’t let the teacher determine what your child is capable of doing. Those who struggle with dyslexia may not always recognize the mark of the problem, and it can be difficult to differentiate between “flaws” and “difficulties”. For example, if a child won’t tap out a sentence, that’s just a problem with how they think they’re supposed to tap, not a real communication issue. Instead, read their daily task list, identify when they would struggle and make small changes, and then work to create a plan. Sometimes adjusting how they work on a task is the biggest obstacle in getting a student to read well and function effectively.
When a child is in school, they need to know they are an important part of their school, and even more than their textbook. The teacher isn’t there just to teach the teacher. Teachers work toward a specific agenda. While spelling or arithmetic may have gotten the student to where they are now, other skills such as writing are also important. However, for some students, it is harder for them to express their ideas because of their dyslexia. Teachers don’t want this, but they need to be able to communicate to the student that they can communicate.
Dyslexia isn’t always a student’s fault, as parents can sometimes struggle to recognize. There are many other factors at play that cause children to struggle with information. These factors include pressure to perform in school, rejection, loneliness, abuse, and different pressures that can lead a child to enter the school system. Even today, a child may be able to get accepted to college that they’re from hard-to-read backgrounds, but other schools don’t and the motivation to try might be lacking.
Help the child to celebrate the victory over any barriers the system set up for them. Celebrate with the child, rather than the teacher, and establish a future plan of action for them to follow. Encourage their friends and family to help as well, encouraging them to let the student know they care. Too often, a child will struggle with this until they get their feelings completely out in the open and are able to change their overall message, which can then help them work through these issues.