Parents of dyslexic children face a variety of challenges. On the one hand there may be a reluctance to label your child as having a specific learning disability and you might be worried about the prospect of causing anger, resentment and possibly bullying. On the other hand, however, you’ll also appreciate the importance of giving your child the best chances of educational success.
Early describers of dyslexia, in the late 1800s, used the term ‘word blindness’, suggesting that reading difficulties were caused by problems in visual perception. Only as recently as the 1970s has language processing been recognised.
Thankfully, there has been a considerable amount of research into the issues associated with dyslexia, a condition which affects an estimated 10 per cent of the current UK population. Highly effective strategies and techniques have been developed in the aim of minimising its impact.
As a parent, look out for signs, because dyslexia is best identified and diagnosed at the earliest opportunity to reduce feelings of embarrassment and concern and to seek specialist help. There’s a relatively high chance of dyslexia being genetically passed through generations. However, all parents and educational practitioners are encouraged to look out for tell-tale characteristics.
By far the most common manifestation of dyslexia is difficulty in learning to read or spell. Dyslexics find it particularly hard to deal with the sounds of words, making it especially difficult to use phonics to read words. Children with common forms of dyslexia also find it hard to remember shapes. Other possible signs – but by no means in all dyslexics – include poor organisation, difficulty with everyday routines and feelings of disorientation.
On the upside, dyslexia is not related to general intelligence and sufferers often have great strengths in reasoning and in visual and creative fields.
Possible anger and resentment
Children who aren’t given appropriate assistance face the risk of being humiliated during lessons. Some teachers may be oblivious to the issue of dyslexia and attribute poor educational performance to laziness or low levels of intelligence (but, I stress, dyslexia is unrelated to IQ). Children may become increasingly angry and disengaged as they struggle to make the same level of progress as peers of a seemingly higher ability.
In good company!
It’s important to remember that your child isn’t alone in their attempt to overcome dyslexia. Remember that one in ten suffer from it. Famous figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Richard Branson and Noel Gallagher have enjoyed immense success in spite of dyslexia. Their stories may provide your child with inspiration and motivation. People with this condition often have exceptional levels of creativity and intuition.
There is absolutely no reason why dyslexia should prevent your child from attaining outstanding school grades provided the appropriate assistance is given. It might be worth considering the option of sending your child to a school with specialist provision for dyslexia. Teachers with a comprehensive understanding of this condition will use a variety of multi-sensory tools to aid the children’s learning. They may encourage children to spell out words on fuzzy boards and play games to improve the levels of engagement. Home schoolers can also address dyslexia, for more information check out our recent article on this topic.
Dyslexia Action Learning Centres are a marvellous resource and well worth contacting – there are around 30 in the UK, mostly in England but there’s also one in Cardiff and one in Glasgow. The NHS is also a good source of information and advice.
There is a wide variety of helpful books which can greatly enhance your understanding of the condition and help you to continue specialist help at home and more generally away from the school environment. You may also like to contact support groups and fellow parents of dyslexic children.
Legally, educational and workplace settings are duty bound to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure dyslexics are not disadvantaged when compared with their peers. Many schools have specialist support for dyslexics from age four to 18; grants may be available to higher education students to access dedicated resources.
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