I realize that this may be a sensitive subject for some of you reading this today. Some of you are new to the world of dyslexia.
Maybe you already have a dyslexia diagnosis or maybe your child is struggling and you suspect dyslexia.
Maybe you’re considering pulling your child from school or have recently done so. Your child is hurting, confused, and resistant to learning.
How then can I, the mother of 7 dyslexic kids, be thankful for dyslexia?
Let me just start by saying that I am not thankful that you or your child are struggling.
In fact, it is because of that that this web site was formed.
You see, I’ve been parenting and homeschooling my own kids with dyslexia (and her cousins dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD) for nearly 27 years. Four of our dyslexic kids are adults now and I have that longterm perspective that gives me a message of hope and yes, thankfulness for their dyslexia.
Why I am Thankful for Dyslexia
I Have a New (and Improved) Perspective on Learning
When I first began teaching my kids I really struggled. Coming from a long line of college educated people, my beliefs about education were super narrowly focused. For me, education was about finishing assignments, getting good grades, getting into a good college, and ultimately getting a good job.
When my kids weren’t able to finish their assignments or get good grades, I feared for their futures – BIG TIME!
Because I could clearly see that my dyslexic kids were bright, I persevered and began researching learning and education and gradually began to redefine my ideas about learning and the purpose of education.
I now understand that there are many kinds of intelligence and that every person has been created (and equipped) for a unique purpose.
I understand that education should be less about forcing every child into the same mold and more about guiding children into their unique, natural intelligence that leads to them fulfilling their purpose.
Education should be less about forcing every child into the same mold and more about guiding children into their unique, natural intelligence that leads them to their purpose.
Now there is nothing wrong with getting good grades and going to college. But it isn’t for everyone. It isn’t the only way to be successful.
My kids’ dyslexia taught me that and I am thankful.
Dyslexia is a Different and Awesome Way of Thinking
About 10 years ago, my then 11-year old sat on a chair with a not-easy-for-him ‘easy reader’ in hand. “I’ll never learn to read!” he cried in despair.
This was probably the lowest point in my dyslexia journey. This kid’s older brother and sister had both learned to read despite my many botched attempts to teach them. But this kid was still having trouble differentiating between short vowel sounds!
Zooming forward to the present, that child, after many years of educational therapy, is an amazingly successful entrepreneur. He took his college fund, invested it, and is on his way to building a business that is built on his strong people strengths and ability to make connections that others don’t see. (One of many dyslexic strengths.) His innate intelligence is propelling him towards success even though he struggled to finish Algebra and writing 5-paragraph essays was nearly the death of him (and me).
Dyslexia is a learning difference that requires a different way of teaching. My kids with dyslexia have amazing strengths.
My kids’ dyslexia taught me that and I am thankful.
Being a Dyslexia Advocate
For the longest time, I resisted my kids learning struggles. For years I refused to allow them the accommodations that they needed to learn at their intellectual ability. Growing up as a traditional learner, I never knew that there were intelligent people who struggled to learn and I believed many of the myths about dyslexia.
Now that I understand dyslexia from the standpoint of a parent and certified Orton-Gillingham dyslexia tutor I am passionate about teaching others about dyslexia and being an advocate for the 20% of our population that, because of a difference in brain wiring, struggle to process the written word.
Those weaknesses result in some impressive strengths. I believe we need to help others to understand dyslexia and look at it not just as a source of struggle (which it surely is while learning to read and write) but as the source of many desirable strengths.
I am an active dyslexia advocate. My kids’ dyslexia taught me that and I am thankful.
How You Can be Thankful for Dyslexia Too
Today I was sitting with my current 11-year old as he plugged away at his 4th grade math. It’s a good fit for him and he is learning more every day. He should be in 6th grade math.
The way that I don’t freak out and panic is by remembering that he will get where he needs to go in his own time.
Grade levels and standardization doesn’t work for non standard minds.
Let go of the misconceptions about ‘should haves’ and ‘could haves’ and teach your kids where they are. Observe, acknowledge and nurture their innate intelligences. Give them time to explore those interests.
And one day, when they’re chasing hard after that thing for which they were created and are making it in this world, it won’t matter at all how old they were when they learned to read, or how far they got in math, or what grade they got in English.
Keep the faith. Faith in your kids. Faith in your ability to teach them.