A Dyslexia Diagnosis Can Be a Good Thing
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
It’s parent-teacher conference time, and having spent 25 years as a classroom teacher, I can tell you it can be a tough time for parents of children who struggle.
But I also know it can be a positive time for some of those same parents, because they will learn that their child’s struggles are not because of inability, laziness or some unidentified problem. Instead, their child is struggling because of a learning disability that can be addressed.
Of course, not every child who struggles has a learning disability, but many do, and the earlier that disability is identified, the earlier – and more successfully – it can be addressed. So, if you or your child’s teacher thinks your child might have a learning disability, it’s best to have him or her tested.
One disability that is being diagnosed more often is dyslexia. Statistics vary, but it’s said as many as one in five children are affected by dyslexia. People with dyslexia often have difficulties with accurate and fluent reading, poor spelling, poor writing and confusion with similar words.
Simply put: Dyslexic brains process written and spoken information differently.
As a result, many of the typical approaches to teaching reading (such as “guided reading” or “balanced literacy”) are not effective for students with dyslexia. Students with dyslexia thrive when the focus is on “decoding,” understanding letter-sound relationships to correctly pronounce written words. This helps children recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven’t seen before.
Fortunately, research has proven that a science-based program called “structured literacy" can help children with dyslexia. It teaches through word-identification and decoding strategies.
So, I encourage parents who receive concerning news at parent-teacher conferences to investigate the root causes of the problems. If, in fact, they turn out to be a learning disability, the best thing you can do is act on that knowledge and get expert help.
Remember: Dyslexia is not due to laziness or low intelligence. Some kids with dyslexia are the brightest, hardest workers I know, but if they aren’t taught how to overcome dyslexia, they will continue to be frustrated and their progress will be slower. Kids with dyslexia typically are as smart as other kids, but they often don’t feel smart because school – especially reading, writing and math – is hard for them.
So why is it good that more children are being diagnosed with dyslexia? Because when you learn your child has dyslexia, you have options. It’s not a disease to be cured; it’s an obstacle to thinking and learning … an obstacle that can be overcome.