The concept of what dyslexia is, is a broad one. Without going into too much depth, here is a quick look at what dyslexia has been like for us.
I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race. — Winston Churchill
Our History: We were given an official diagnosis of Brooke’s dyslexia in the middle of her 3rd grade year. Interestingly, it did not come from the school district’s tests– they expressly denied any learning disabilities or language based disorders–but came from outside and independent testing we paid for ourselves. Even WITH a dyslexia diagnosis confirmed and reconfirmed by no fewer than 3 doctors/neuropsychologists, she was denied any remedial services or even an acknowlegement of the learning difference by 2 different school districts (comprised of at least 12 ‘specialists’ in each district.)
How It Affected Our Daughter: I anticipated Brooke would do well in school–she had always been bright, curious, creative, confident, and enthusiastic. However, she struggled from the first day of Kindergarten. She cried every day before school in K-3. She cried every day after school, doing homework, from K-3. She developed stomach aches and headaches. She became increasingly quiet and withdrawn. She stopped being curious (except for her interest in animals and nature). She started second guessing herself and calling herself ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb’ and she believed it. She developed a pretty significant eye twitch or tick. She developed anxiety and phobias. She became unresponsive and angry towards learning. Although the school refused to acknowlege or accomodate her for any learning disabilities, they suggested we medicate her for anxiety and ADD.
Why Does This Matter? Aside from the obvious feelings that a mom has towards her child that is being neglected & abused by a system put in place that has a duty to help that child…there are societal implications that go far beyond the people and families dealing with dyslexia. The fact is, everyone is affected by dyslexia/learning dissabilities. The price we pay as a society is high: teenage pregnancies, high school drop out rates, juvenile deliquencies, illiteracy, and the lost potential of these unique minds.
What Needs to Happen? Understanding and awareness about dyslexia on behalf of the schools. Across the board training of teachers who need to understand that up to 20% of the kids in their classroom any given year will have some kind of learning disability. Flexibility in the school curriculum to accomodate these unique learners. Widespread change in how dyslexia is classified and tested for. Understanding and awareness about dyslexia on behalf of parents who have kids that are getting lost in the system.