Breaking a myth: Dyslexics can become readers!
A mom writing in the New York Times expresses grief: her first-grade daughter has been diagnosed with dyslexia. The mom is in despair, fearing that her daughter will never share and embrace her love of words. The mom appears ready to embrace her daughter’s other gifts — an already expressed knack for visual-spatial reasoning, the hope of future talents in art, music or design. But already, the mom has translated the “diagnosis” into the belief that her daughter won’t be “able to speak the language of literacy.”
The mother’s fear is understandable. I also worried when my son’s struggles with grasping the basic elements of reading seemed both inexplicable and insurmountable. Dyslexia is a challenge.
But challenges can be faced and overcome. The value of early screening is that it helps to define the challenge. If you can understand the cause of a problem, you can begin to work to solve that problem.
A parent who knows that their child is dyslexic by the end of first grade is fortunate. Parent and child will both be spared years of frustration in the early school years. This child never has to believe that she is any less intelligent than her peers. She and her mom have a word to assign to her difficulties. They know from the start that the path to literacy will be different, and they can begin the journey before the child has fallen significantly behind in school.
There is a very different, and contrasting story, told in the many comments to the mom’s worried post. A mother from Atlanta writes: “If you love reading with your daughter, she will love it too…. I know so many dyslexic adults who are passionate readers.”
A young woman from Brooklyn echoes that advice: “As a dyslexic I know that I love to read and for me that love came first from being read to, which enabled me to love the stories even if I couldn’t read them myself.“
Another contributor posts a link to an article about dyslexic business leaders, and points out, “Dyslexia doesn’t have to be a deficit, with the right support your daughter and you will Learn your way through it.” (I love the capitalization of “Learn”!)
Some parents share the benefits of hindsight. One shares, “My son was diagnosed very late-did not read till 4th grade… My son is now thinking about law school- a career that demands both reading and writing.” Another mom describes the specific remediation arranged for her son, and reports “He is currently finishing 8th grade reading well above grade level, and is a voracious reader who likes to sneak read in bed after his lights are supposed to be out.“
A mom from Wyoming offers, “I have two dyslexic sons. Both of them are writers. Neither became a fluent reader until about age 9; however, both of them love words… My younger son is in a very difficult PhD. program. I read to both these boys well into their teens.” Still another writes, “My severely dyslexic son is writing a historical novel – he is 12.”
A proud father writes, “My second daughter, diagnosed with dyslexia, didn’t read until 6th grade. Last week, she graduated from college and plows through a couple of books a week. She can’t spell, but she is one of the most literate & insightful people I know.” And an equally proud sibling shares, “My sister is dyslexic and is one of the most amazing writers I know and loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book, even if it does take her a bit longer to read it. … My sister was not diagnosed until 4th grade, but since then, has gone on to graduate top ten in her high school class and attended an Ivy League university.“
I didn’t have to work hard to find these comments — at least half of the 78 comments posted to the article include encouraging and often impressive stories of success. Of course it is easier to see the big picture through hindsight than to be a parent faced with a present struggle.
But it’s sad when anyone even hints at giving up a hope or a dream for a child who is only in primary school The dyslexic child follows a different developmental path. Each child is an individual to be cherished and encouraged.
The gift of dyslexia is the gift of mastery.
Here’s a link to the article that prompted this post:
5 thoughts on “Breaking a myth: Dyslexics can become readers!”
Thank you, Abigail, for bringing hope to many parents in this situation. I conduct educational assessments in New Zealand. I meet lots of talented dyslexics and their parents who are often unaware that there is a ‘good side’ to dyslexia. I always make sure that I show them a collage of pictures of famous dyslexics and tell them they are part of a very special group of people who think differently. Many parents have told me that their children responded very positively to their assessment. I know it wasn’t because of the actual tests I subjected them to (!) but because they now understand that there’s a reason why some things may have been harder for them, and it’s not because they were ‘dumb’.
My daughter is dyslexia and have a time with her spelling word and reading .and get her D, and B, mix up.
I just came across this site and immediately felt a sense of hope. My son was diagnosed with dyslexia early; in the first grade. However, it has been an uphill struggle since then. I think being a single parent makes the stress a little more since you take on both roles and don’t have the emotional support from a spouse. I will be visiting this site often. Thanks for all the inspiring posts.
tengo 20 años y fui diagnosticada con dislexia alos 9 nunca me trataron y mi confiansa es escasa por las vurlas de mis compañeros al leer, a un hoy en dia en la univercidad me da pena tratar de leer porque parece que un niño pequeño lo esta haciendo sin envargo yo amo la lectura leo todos los dias, mi tesoro son mis libros, y escrivo “gracias a Dios por el corrector de word por que sino seria un desastre” porque la dislexcia me enseño a sermas fuerte y luchar. algundia alcansare mis sueños y mi triunfo sera mas brillante que los demas porque fue mas dificil de alcansar.
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