October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. As a long time homeschooler with 20+ years of experience teaching kids with dyslexia, here are 10 truths I want you to be aware of:
1. Your kids will learn to read. Eventually. All kids learn to read in their own time. Our oldest kids who didn’t have the benefit of all of my current knowledge about dyslexia, didn’t read independently until 12 and took off from there. So if you’re worried because your 8-year old is struggling with Bob Books while his or her peers are reading chapter books, take a breath and know that it will come. (And get books on audio!)
2. But they may never spell well. After years of intensive educational therapy, some of my kids still have trouble with spelling. But you would never know it because they use assistive technology when typing and texting. I hear from parents all. the. time. that their kids are reading well but spelling – not so much. This is a reality of dyslexia. Get them up to speed on assistive technology and let it go!
3. The school years are HARD. I really did spend a lot of time agonizing over my kids learning difficulties in the early days. (I still worry some but not nearly as much!) From not remembering their math facts, to poor spelling and handwriting, to poor memory and a lack of attention… the school days are hard for kids with language based learning difficulties.
I don’t agree that all dyslexics have strengths outside of academia though. I have kids who write beautifully or love the sciences but still struggle to read and learn quickly. College is doable but with a lighter load and tutoring. It isn’t uncommon for a dyslexic student to understand the content better than their classmates and still do poorly on exams. The school years are hard, but fortunately, they don’t last forever.
4. The school years don’t look anything like your school years. The way kids with dyslexia learn is anything but linear and predictable. I have talked to more than one parent, concerned about a teen son’s reading ability. They can read but don’t like to. Then a few minutes later, I learn that this reluctant reader can rebuild a tractor motor and can basically run the family farm on his own. Hmmm. There really isn’t a place on the high school transcript for that kind of thing (at least not one that gives it the credit due). YOU need to know that this is highly valuable despite not being a high school graduation requirement. Our kids learn with different methods and on a different time table than traditional learners and that is okay. See #1 above!
5. Real life is easier. While all of my dyslexic kids learned to read later and struggled across the board with learning from one degree to another, once they hit the real world (i.e. graduated from high school) they are off and running. All of that time you spent helping them to understand themselves, how they learn, and nurturing their interests pays off big time once they are out of the school setting and able work and learn more on their own. All of our kids needed a few years to find their ‘thing’ but once they did – wowza!
6. Outside the box people are happier outside the box. What I mean by this is that, at least for my kids (and dyslexic husband) they struggle in cookie cutter types of environments. That is why the traditional school setting often doesn’t work for our kids. Their learning curve is way different than traditional learners and their strengths often lie outside of the typical word and logic intelligences. They master reading and writing later than their peers. They often don’t do well with testing even if they have a good understanding of the material. Standardized education is difficult for non-standard minds.
7. Accommodations and assistive technology are absolutely necessary. Once upon a time, a long time ago, this left-brained, linear mama who never struggled in school thought the use of assistive technology was unfair. I felt that my kids needed to write their own papers (not dictate them to me or a device) or that my kids couldn’t move ahead in math until they learned their multiplication tables. Please don’t fall into that trap. I have two kids who can write and express themselves with words better than I could imagine but I NEVER would have known unless I allowed them to dictate those words to me. How ironic to have a gift with words but not be able to physically write or spell them! Accommodation and assistive technology allow our kids to express themselves at their intellectual ability and cause confidence to soar.
8. Dyslexic people really can do anything. Of our 4 adult kids (all with dyslexia) all of them are pursuing their interests and excelling. One kid who struggled mightily with higher level math is currently taking Calculus in college. While the class isn’t easy, she is able to get the help she needs and is doing well. Taking and passing this class is leading her to her goal to become a physical therapist. Had you asked me a few years ago if I thought this was a possibility, I would have said definitely not. And here we are…
9. Dyslexia is not all bad. Although the school years can be tough, once our kids with dyslexia get out into the world, they often excel. I write this to encourage you that despite what it may seem, your dyslexic kids have amazing abilities that school curricula don’t often address. An ability to make unusual connections, to think outside the box, to imagine, to engineer, to create music, art, or businesses – these are areas where our kids EXCEL and that is good!
10. It’s not all good either. If you’re reading this post today, your kids, or grandkids, or students are very fortunate. There are some shocking statistics surrounding dyslexia. Without the support of some caring adult, whether a parent or teacher, many dyslexics slip through the cracks. The perform poorly in school and begin getting into trouble. There is an alarming amount of illiteracy in our prisons today and a large portion of those people are dyslexic but never received the kind of help you are giving the dyslexics in your life.
Loved reading and agree with almost everything. I work with kids some who still struggle with blends. But I see hope and know they will do something in life. It’s the people around who have difficulty in accepting that a 27 year old can’t read as well as other kids their age.
This list provides a foundation for realistic perspective and expectations. Thank you, Marianne!
Thank you for the positive post especially number 9 really hit me. It is so easy to worry about making sure I’ m providing what my kids need. I needed to hear that they will be ok and the gifts and talents I see in them will be manifest on God’s time.
I don’t understand one statement in #3…
“I don’t agree that all dyslexics have strengths outside of academia though.”
What do you mean?
That doesn’t really make sense, does it? I meant that being dyslexic doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in academic fields.
I also found the statement unclear. Otherwise, this was a wonderful, encouraging article, as usual.?
Thanks for clarifying! You’ve been such an encouragement to me on this path we walk!
You’re welcome Tami!
My step- daughter, now 33, struggled with reading and spelling from the time joined her family when she was 8. When she couldn’t learn to spell the usual way, but understood math, I changed her alphabet to include numbers for vowels. So A was 1, E was 2, I was 3, O was 4 and U was 5. Now cat was spelled c1t, dog was d4g, and umbrella was spelled 5mbr2ll1. It was harder for me to spell the words for her, but quickly she became a better speller with proof on her spelling tests. Now she is almost a whiz at spelling, but is an avid user of technology. She earned 2 scholarships and got 2 college degrees, and now works at a job where here computer knowledge of Excel is highly recognized by her superiors. Last week, she replaced 3 key people while they were all on vacation.
Thanks for sharing Darlene. What a great success story!!
As a result of working with my stepdaughter who has dyslexia, I also tutor other students with various learning disabilities including dyslexia. I discovered there are many students who do not learn to read well from basic phonics experience — one syllable words that rhyme because of the same vowel sounds.. So I am creating a series of ADVANCED PHONICS BOOKS that focus on the consonants first and then the vowels later. These books will have a word box and sentences to fill in the blanks with more advanced words and also matching words to definitions.. Sometimes the student will know the words from context . The books are written for students with a basic knowledge of reading skills, but who also need more practice to improve those skills. Several students enjoyed their success in reading and completing these books. They are geared for homeschoolers, learning disabilities and will be published with a font specific to work with dyslexic students. You may contact me via this website with your questions about these books.
Be sure to share the link with us when you’re finished Darlene!
Thank you for this encouraging article!! I have found that my dyslexic daughter, now a senior in high school, has learned the gift of perseverance. She is such a hard worker!!
I’m hopeful that her younger dyslexic brother will also learn this trait too!
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insight on dyslexia.
My son is going to be tested for dyslexia, I think he may have dyscalculia too. He can spell pretty well orally, but when he writes he doesn’t spell what he “knows” to be correct, He’s also constantly making mistakes with punctuation and sentence structure (like forgetting to capitalize letters, leaving off certain letters of words). He knows how to read, but his writing comprehension is not so good.
One thing I noticed is he was very good at following instructions (pictures, not words) for putting Lego toys together. He’s also got an excellent memory for watching videos. Is this “normal” for dyslexics?
Yes!!Every last one of those things. 🙂
We have a kindergartner that knows his letter sounds, can point to every letter when we say it’s name, and can match upper and lowercase letters but he is not able to tell us the name of any of the letters unless he sings through the alphabet song. Is this a sign of dyslexia? We have tried many activities at home to teach the letter names but does not seem to be able to remember their names.
Hi KJ. Not necessarily. Here is a link to a post with more of the signs:https://homeschoolingwithdyslexia.com/dyslexia-signs-dyslexia/
Homeschooling With Dyslexia, began out of a desire to share from the many years I have been teaching my own kids with learning difficulties. As a child, I loved school, textbooks, and sitting in class listening to my teachers. I had ZERO idea that there were actually kids that struggled to read and learn netgearrouter
One of the best sites in recent times that we have come across.
Students that cannot do exactly what teachers ask of them, aren’t always choosing this path. Teachers need more education in this area so they don’t label dyslexic students as “LAZY” because they can’t complete work without some help. My son is very bright and was misunderstood in the school system. It has helped me to be a more educated and sensitive teacher. He is currently in Pennsylvania College of Technology and thriving!
Exactly!! They’re working HARDER than other kids!!
How do you balance assisting their writing or dictating from them and letting them practice handwriting? My dyslexic 8 year old would never write a thing if she didn’t have too. How much should I push her? Occasionally? Regularly? Thank you.