Parenting a Dyslexic Child

Parenting a Dyslexic Child

This is a subject close to my heart. I’m dyslexic (I wrote about it in a list here). I could talk till the cows come home about how it’s effected me – there’s lots of positive as well as the more obvious negatives.

One thing I’ve never considered is how my diagnosis might have felt for my parents. So a big personal thanks from me to Becky AKA @tensandtwos for sharing this emotional, insightful list:


  • When you’re a child it’s all about fitting in. Being different is scary and isolating. Often you don’t really understand why you’re different. It’s just a sense.

  • As a parent of a child with differences it can be very upsetting to see them have to manage them.

  • Much as you try to reassure them that in the end being different is a good thing. That they have strengths others don’t.

  • Ultimately, you can’t take away the hurt they experience now and the hurdles they’ll have to overcome.

  • You want to wrap them up and protect them.

  • But you can’t follow them around at school all day. In any case they’d hate you for it!

  • My son showed early signs of reading problems in reception class. Let’s just say he didn’t get along with Biff and Chip.

  • Looking back, even at preschool they noticed he rarely took an interest in books, already favouring experiments.

  • It wasn’t until he was seven that it was suggested we had him tested. Though research now recommends early intervention.

  • By that stage his self esteem was already really low. He’d look down in class, afraid to be picked on for questions.

  • I wish I had pushed more to get help earlier in his school life.

  • But when it’s your first child you have no benchmark.

  • I thought maybe he was just slow to grasp phonics and everyone kept reminding me that kids learn at different speeds.

  • Getting him assessed with an educational physiologist was a revelation.

  • Finally we could stop speculating and take action. We had a clear plan of ways to help him at school and at home.

  • As soon as these interventions were put in place his behaviour did a u-turn. All his frustrations had been manifesting in outbursts and tantrums at home. Now that he felt more secure he was happier and calmer.

  • I felt guilty for not having connected the two. I put it down to him being a challenging, sensitive child.

  • Dyslexia is still misunderstood. I remember telling my mum that he may have dyslexia. She said she didn’t think so as he seemed really intelligent.

  • I’ve learned that there’s no one size fits all with dyslexia. It’s a complex area with lots of different needs and nuances. His assessment report is a 20 page document full of acronyms and centiles. You need a physiology degree to understand it. And a large gin.

  • I still don’t fully understand it. But in essence his particular challenges cover working memory and auditory processing. He struggles to remember what he was told two minutes before and doesn’t hear the sounds in words as most of us do. Surprisingly, his long term memory is amazing!

  • The school system while more inclusive these days, remains unfairly skewed towards those with a strong aptitude for the core subjects.

  • I fitted that mould. At school I was in the top set for everything. This doesn’t mean I am any more intelligent than my dyslexic son. My brain is just wired perfectly for school. That’s a very unfair advantage.

  • My son might not be able to spell simple words or recite timetables, but he is a talented little artist and loves science and technology. At eight he’s able to construct complicated electronics that baffle me.

  • I have no doubt whatsoever that he’ll find his path. It’s just the route to get there that will be hairy for him at times. I wish it could be simpler for him.

  • When he tells him he’s stupid it breaks my heart. He most certainly is not and it’s up to me and his school to assure him of this fact.

  • But it’s not straightforward. You can’t stop kids being mean. Or him feeling embarrassed when reading out loud.

  • He sees all the other boys reading Harry Potter and wants to be part of that gang. I’ve realised I can’t stop him having these feelings, but I can help him foster his own passions.

  • Often I worry I’m not doing enough to help his dyslexia. There’s so much out there now – apps and programs galore. It’s overwhelming.

  • Homework is often a disaster zone with both of us having meltdowns. I also have two smaller boys to keep entertained, but I try my best to stay calm and empathetic. Easier said than done. Often I’m screaming internally while using my best encouraging voice.

  • I’ve discovered it’s best to do little and often. He has to have time to play and wind down as school can be exhausting for him.

  • If I could recommend one tool for dyslexia that’s been a godsend for us, it’s Toe By Toe. It’s a book you work through gradually and it’s brilliant. Even for kids without learning differences.

  • Technology is a great enabler. He uses the iPad to unlock and record his creative ideas.

  • Councils and schools are so stretched and his needs are not deemed severe enough for one-to-one support. He has to be completely failing, not just struggling.

  • I dread school report time. Of course he gets some positive comments but it’s the codes of the latest curriculum that frustrate me. He will always get a B (below target) apparently. It’s this formulaic approach to the UK school system which doesn’t sit well with me.

  • I’m learning the hard way as he gets older that in order to get more help in school you have to be prepared to shout the loudest. As it’s very much a waiting game we’ve decided to pay for extra help and give him as much support at home.

  • I still lie awake at night hoping we are doing enough. Giving him the best start.

  • I cling onto the many success stories out there from entrepreneurs to artists who have turned their dyslexia into a positive.

  • It’s also great that some companies are now actively seeking to employ people with specific learning differences as they recognise the diverse and unique talents they can bring.

  • I can’t guarantee success for my son but my only wish is to help him to grow up to be confident in his own unique abilities.

  • I want him to believe that his dreams are possible and not hindered by difficulties at school.

  • I recognise that I might come across as a tad over protective and fiercely defensive of my son, but I want him to know I’ve got his back. Always. Even when he’s acting out I know there’s a reason behind it. A feeling of inadequacy I want to take away.

  • His wonderful tutor told me that self esteem is key. Yes you can help with reading, spelling and handwriting. But if you lose a child’s self esteem, it’s hard to rebuild.

  • So for now though I’ll keep reminding him of his amazing talents and slip in a bit of Dr Seuss now and again.

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3 thoughts on “Parenting a Dyslexic Child

  1. My daughter’s dyslexic .. we had to fight to get an assessment at school, the head told us she was too intelligent to be dyslexic so we paid privately – the signs were all there, the diagnosis confirmed it. But facing that prejudice from a primary head was awful. Secondary school seems so much more supportive .. thankfully!! She listens to audio books (a lot) and prefers to read on her kindle as we’ve set it to a dyslexia friendly font and she can make it bigger so it’s easier to read x

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  2. OMG. Can relate to all of this. 3 boys, eldest dyslexic and the late diagnosis. Thank you. So nice to know we are not alone xx

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  3. As a mother of a 13 year old dyslexic daughter I get this. She was diagnosed in reception and I have been through every emotion you describe here. I still do. But she has grown with her learning difference and although she still struggles it does calm down. However, GCSEs are around the corner and I already lay awake at night worrying.
    Thank you for you heartfelt list x

    Like

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