Anyone that’s been in the dyslexia field for a while will tell you that there are few suretys, plenty of challenges and lots of unknowns. So that is what has compelled us to create a list to help you navigate the better path. Learning from the past allows us to share our experiences and after many requests document them for you to learn from too.
1) DOING NOTHING AND HOPING IT WILL GO AWAY
You never grow out of dyslexia, and the ‘Don’t worry they’ll catch up.” approach works in few cases. Doing nothing will inevitably lead to a student becoming more and more aware of the fact they are falling behind their peers and create negative emotional consequences. The more they miss out on, the less they’ll have access to later in life. Although helpful, late intervention seldom puts back in the fundamental building blocks that were missed. Ultimately you are setting them up for failure and potentially opening up a life of crime for them.
My personal experience? During my school years I had a hard time staying on track and not being distracted – even when studying alone. My spelling was hilarious and Maths & PE weren’t my strong points. The business world hasn’t held the same problems for me, but not having got help earlier has left me with some gaping holes in my spelling ability and no GCSE or A Level results to talk about. Get help as soon as you can – it will make all the difference to your learning ability and to your future career.
2) BELIEVING IT’S ALL DOOM & GLOOM
After you’ve got over the initial shock that you or your child has a long term condition, there is no need to stay in the doldrums – remember many others have had this and lived. In fact many have gone on to lead very successful lives. Very successful lives. Numerous great inventors, entrepreneurs & sports heroes are credited with having dyslexia.
Ultimately all any of us wants to do in life is to succeed, no one wants to fail. So capitalise on their strong points and find ways to utilise these, giving your child a chance to shine.
Many parent’s have called me with the mindset that it’s ‘the end of the world’. I promise you – it’s not. It’s just the beginning of a new journey through a semi discovered land.
3) HANGING ON TO SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS
So your child might have been given a label called dyslexia, but just because they now have that label it doesn’t mean that you no longer know your child or should love them the same way that you always did. All it means is that you now both know why they are having a hard time at certain things and it’s not because they are bonkers. Labels do not and should not define us. Prior to the late 1800’s dyslexia wasn’t known to have limited anybody’s life and had we poured scorn, doubt or distrust on the learning difficulties of the likes of Edison, Einstein, Lincoln, Bell, Goldberg, Lennon, Picasso, Warhol, Ali, Regrave, Rockefeller, Branson – the world would certainly be a very different and dismal place today. People may not understand, but you must hold fast the hope you have in yourself.
I have talked with parents who are distraught at the way their child now appears to be ‘broken’ and the child they loved yesterday who had a few little odd quirks, has now transformed into someone they no longer know and who they now need to put disposable gloves on before touching. They don’t. They are still your child, they still love you and want, no need, to be loved back.
4) NOT TRYING DIFFERENT APPROACHES
When it comes to getting help for dyslexia, even though few in the field can exactly pinpoint to where it comes from and how to ‘eliminate it’ pretty much everyone agrees that different approaches work for different people. Additionally it is seldom the first thing you try that makes the biggest difference. It is likely that your child has a few different challenges and by focusing on the biggest challenge you can then research help around that area. Speak to any parent of a dyslexic child and they will tell you that they have used and tried a whole bunch of different strategies and treatments, because typically each one will specialise in a particular area.
Personally in my own family alone we have tried 8, 10, 12 different interventions – some worked, some didn’t, some made a small impact, others more significant. If I had my time over again, would we have tried them all? Yes. Am I going to try any more? Yes.
NB. The reason we decided to train to make the ALC program available to others was because it was the program that made the biggest difference out of all those we tried. Would I recommend you try it? Absolutely.
5) FALLING FOR THE MYTH THAT IT AFFECTS INTELLIGENCE
Dyslexia can have a nasty way of making it appear that we have low intelligence. After all if we can’t seem to keep up with our peers in school and struggle to accomplish basic tasks such as reading – we must be thick – right? Wrong. Or rather partially right. Dyslexia is a communication & processing issue and does not affect intelligence. Meaning that persons of all intelligence levels are affected by dyslexia. It’s not unusual for parents to say “But I know my child’s really bright.” almost as a reason that they can’t have dyslexia, it just can’t be true. Guess what? If they are really bright, fantastic! Yes, they may well get frustrated at the things they can’t do, but with the right tools and a few ingenious compensatory strategies they’ll be off to master the heights of Everest!
6) KEEPING IT TO YOURSELF
Dyslexia is not a disease, you can’t catch it and there should be no shame and stigma attached to it. When you are comfortable enough to speak about it openly you’ll find that it will help, not hinder you. Yes, it’s a hidden difficulty, but that doesn’t mean it should carry any more shame than a broken leg or a fractured arm. To get help you are going to need to speak out and speak up. Don’t suffer in silence, it can have long term emotional consequences.
Oh and by the way – did you realise that organisations, such as Google, that actually seek out dyslexics for the creative mindsets. Additionally the BBC are apparently the biggest employer of dyslexics many of whom are videograhers and photographers and GCHQ employ approximately 120 dyslexic & dyspraxic staff, recognising the innovative approaches and additional value neuro-diverse individuals can bring’. Meaning they have a higher than average proportion of staff with dyslexia. Who’d want to miss out on an opportuntity like that? In fact one design company recently advertised a vacancy only wanting dyslexics to apply. An opening for you there?
7) NOT KEEPING AN OPEN MIND
The field of dyslexia is not a simple one. Rather it can be a minefield at times. There are many schools of opinion on what causes it, what helps, what doesn’t and how and when you should go about it. Does anyone person have all the answers? Sadly not, even professors have differing views. However there are new teaching approaches, tools, therapies and treatments coming to light all the time. Unless you have personally tried and tested a particular option be careful not to rule it out. It just could be the one that makes all the difference.
All too often the mindset that, ‘I’ve got through so far.’ or ‘Oh I’ve tried that before.’ or even ‘I’ve got my own systems for coping.’ could well rule out new systems, tools and options that would significantly help to move you ahead, or lessen your frustrations. Clutching tightly to your dimming candle stick, when there is a brand new box of light bulbs right within reach, may not be the best route forward for you.