Dyslexia is a silent learning difference. Kids with dyslexia are bright and articulate, but they often struggle with academics and basic life skills. Teachers know these kids are bright and expect a lot from them. But they are often accused of being lazy, when, in fact they are working at capacity.
Parents of students with dyslexia are sometimes the most frustrated of all because they, too, know their children are smart. And, because of this they wonder why their children aren’t getting decent grades. To make matters worse, some days these kids seem to know so much and other days they seem to know very little.
Dyslexia is a neurological condition by definition, so it always amazes me that people think the best way to deal with it is with academics. If a student with dyslexia could cope in an academic setting, then there would be no problem.
Schools are designed to teach academics and to deal with academics. This leaves the dyslexic student standing alone in a confusing, scary world, because adding more academics to an already full academic plate does not offer a solution. It only adds to the problem and fatigues an already frustrated learner.
“School is hard,” Gabriel said to me. I sympathized. School is hard for a dyslexic student, and the sad truth is that many of these kids don’t qualify for special services because they are too intelligent. School should be a place to learn and succeed, not a place that is overwhelming and scary.
There is so much that can be done for a student with dyslexia. Following is a list of suggestions that may help you if you think your child has dyslexia.
1. Find a way to take the pressure off this learner. Dyslexic students want to do well and try hard. They are aware that they are failing or at least not measuring up to others’ standards. Talk to the teacher and see if you can decrease homework amounts. Find a program that is suitable to the dyslexic learner. A school with vigorous academics is just not a good fit.
2. Play the d – b game. Although a dyslexic student can actually see any given letter, number, or symbol in 40 different ways, I have found that the d-b-p-q combination is the most commonly confused. Also, 6 and 9 are commonly confused. To play the d- b game just give your child a piece of paper and a pencil. Call out d and b and have the student write the letter you call out. Slowly increase the speed. Vary the letter line-up. For instance you may call out d, b, d, d, b, d, b, b, d…. and so on. Try to go faster and faster. If your child misses a letter, simply call his attention to it.
3. Most dyslexic students have gifts that are not measured in an academic setting. For instance, these kids might be exceptionally good at building Legos. Capitalize on this and build up your child’s self-esteem with whatever he is good at.
Dyslexia is common – one in five has it. Yet, it seems to be swept under the rug in so many settings. Step by step the pieces can be put in place.