The term resilience is one of those words we hear frequently, but can be hard to pin down, define and explain. I’ve also found it to be quite a challenge to spell! In an effort to alleviate this difficulty, some key terms and phrases are listed below.
- Adjusting or adapting to change or difficulty
- Remaining emotionally strong
- Developing positive coping strategies and mechanisms
- Bouncing back and growing stronger in the face of adversity or trauma
- Withstanding stress and difficult times
- Learning and growing from mistakes or errors
- Staying motivated even after a setback
In this way, resilience very much refers to the psychological and behavioural ability of an individual to process, cope and grow in difficult or challenging times. Subsequently, it is an essential naturally occurring human trait that can be developed and nurtured over time.
Why though is resilience so important for dyslexic individuals I hear you ask? Life can be turbulent and rocky for all of us at times. But for those living with dyslexia, or any other neurodiversity, daily life can potentially be more strenuous and stress-inducing; increasing the need for resilient thinking and actions. Three main reasons are explored in the coming sentences.
Firstly, for some neurodivergents coming to terms with a diagnosis and learning to cope and adapt to living with a neurodiversity can require huge amounts of perseverance, motivation, and experimentation with learning styles. 1
Secondly, dyslexics can face multiple unique and individualised challenges and struggles in their daily lives. Whether it be reading and writing tasks, following verbal instructions in lessons or at work, or processing information managing these every day can be immensely demanding and exhausting.
Last, but certainly not least, many psychological and emotional impacts of dyslexia, known as secondary symptoms of dyslexia, are often overlooked and somewhat ignored. These ‘secondary symptoms’ can include higher levels of anxiety, stress, and withdrawnness and lower levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.
Due to the choppy and unpredictable nature of everyday life, one’s resilience levels from time to time may require some boosting or recharging. To assist with this large amounts of writing, literature, and research exploring ways to boost resilience amongst the dyslexic population exists.2 3 4 5
Here are some key points, suggestions, and ideas of how dyslexics can ‘recharge’ this resilience”:
- Recognise, nurture and celebrate ones strengths. All humans possess distinctive strengths and exceptional qualities that can be utilised and be in high demand in everyday life.
- Set realistic goals and break these into smaller chunks that are far easier manage, process and comprehend. In this way, one is in control by choosing their own path in life and by working at their own pace.
- Ensure your own physical and psychological wellbeing is being maintained and allow yourself to time to relax and recuperate after difficult events.
- Seek support, guidance and assistance when needed. This can be family, friends, teachers, connections made via community groups or outside professionals.
- Try to keep challenges, issues or disappointments in perspective. This can be emotionally challenging and draining, but it can help keep difficult events in context and avoid being overwhelmed.
- Using adversity and difficult times as an opportunity for self-discovery and reflection. After a challenging event often one may think about themselves and how they could have handled a situation differently or what skills they may wish to improve on.
- Acknowledging that change is inevitable and sometimes goals and aspirations may need to be changed or altered. Crucially though, change is not necessarily a bad thing and can lead to great opportunities.
- Develop your own individualised coping mechanisms or ‘task related strategies’ (Burns et al, 2013). These are great ways to help a person complete and get through tasks, events or jobs they may find especially challenging. Examples can include using acronyms or rhymes to remember spellings and creating reminders and lists for the day’s events.
- Belonging to the dyslexic community is not a bad or negative thing. In vast contrast, dyslexics often process information differently to others and can be immensely creative, artistic, emotionally aware and gifted in many areas of life.
Harnessing, building, and developing one’s resilience is an extremely beneficial trait and quality to possess for all, neurodiverse or not, as life events or change can be challenging, unpredictable, and unanticipated. The above recommendations and suggestions are not a full, exhaustive list of potential ways to build resilience; instead, they can act as a good starting point and ‘food for thought’ for dyslexics and others belonging to the neurodiverse population.
- Chase, C. (2019). Dyslexia and Resilience in Adults: A Psychologists Perspective, International Dyslexia Association, 9(2).
- Haft, S & Hoeft, F. (2016). What Protective Factors Lead to Resilience in Students with Dyslexia, International Dyslexia Association.
- Burns, E., Poikkeus, A-M. & Aro, M. (2013) Resilience Strategies Employed by Teachers with Dyslexia Working at Tertiary Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, 34: 77-85
- Using Strengths to Foster Resilience (Dyslexic Advantage Team)
- Resilience (Dyslexic Advantage Team