Life after dyslexia diagnosis
If your child has just been diagnosed with dyslexia, it is important for parents to first get their own head around the information. Don’t hesitate to get back to the psychologist to have the report explained. Reports do have to contain a certain amount of technical data, which can be confusing, but the report tells you so much about your child, not just their dyslexia, but their profile of strengths and weaknesses.
The most important thing to remember is don’t panic – there is life after dyslexia diagnosis.
Focus on the strengths
When helping a child with dyslexia, and especially when talking to a child about their dyslexia, it is as important to recognise their strengths. Sometimes it is easy to focus too much on their weaknesses, because you naturally want to help them manage those areas better. Balance really is key. If your child has to go for some specialist tuition outside of school for their dyslexia on one evening, try to balance that with another extra-curricular activity on another day which taps into their strengths – it could be sport, drama, art, whatever they are good at. Recognising strengths and also recognising effort and achievement is also very important in order to protect the child’s self-esteem.
Even prior to diagnosis, children with dyslexia are often acutely aware that they learn differently, don’t read or spell as well as other children in their class. It is essential not to compare a child with dyslexia with a child who doesn’t have dyslexia. If your child struggles with the spelling test, don’t expect perfection. Expect that they will work hard and try their best, and that they will aim to get a slightly better score on future tests – 5/10 instead of 4/10 should be celebrated as a good improvement, not viewed as only getting half right.
Success is always possible
Talking to your child about dyslexia is important to help them understand why they learn differently, that they are not stupid. Their brain works in a different way. This means that some tasks will be harder, some skills will take longer to learn and they may need to get some specialist help along the way.
However, while dyslexia does mean that they will have to work harder, them can still achieve their potential. There are many famous people with dyslexia, but as dyslexia is genetic and runs in families, there are often examples close to home of people who succeeded in life despite dyslexia, by learning to manage it and choosing a career which tapped into their strengths.
Work with the school
It is important for parents to develop a good working relationship with your child’s school and teachers. In order to support a child with a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, a partnership approach between home and school is best. The child with dyslexia may need extra help in school to address their difficulties with literacy and learning, and they will also need extra support at home with homework, or time spent revising and over-learning reading and spelling techniques.
Your child’s learning support teacher may even give worksheets to parents to support the specialist tuition done in school. Children with dyslexia due to their difficulties with memory and processing speed need a lot of repetition and over-learning. Home and school working together can enhance the child’s learning progress.
With an informed parent
advocating for their child’s needs, working in partnership with the school, and availing of any appropriate resources or learning supports, the child will reach their potential. Always remember that the goal is for your child to become an independent, confident self-sufficient learner, so that when they move on to further education or third level, they will be able to succeed in their chosen career.
While dyslexia can be diagnosed from about six and a half years upwards, some students do not get diagnosed until second level or occasionally third level. Irrespective of when the diagnosis is made, the important thing is to take the information the assessment report provides and move forward in a positive way. The educational psychologist will recommend appropriate learning supports and any accommodations, which may be needed to help the student manage their dyslexia.
What is dyslexia?
There are many definitions of dyslexia. A very simple one would be that dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty, which makes it hard for some people to learn to read, write and spell correctly. The recent Report of the Task Force on Dyslexia (2001) suggests the following more scientific definition:
Dyslexia is manifested in a continuum of specific learning difficulties related to the acquisition of basic skills in reading, spelling and/or writing, such difficulties being unexplained in relation to an individual’s other abilities and educational experiences. Dyslexia can be described at the neurological, cognitive and behavioural levels. It is typically characterised by inefficient information processing, including difficulties in phonological processing, working memory, rapid naming and automaticity of basic skills. Difficulties in organisation, sequencing and motor skills may also be present.
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