Dyslexia

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.
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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
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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 She became increasingly quiet and withdrawn.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.

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4 Responses

  1. I have been going back and forth about sharing our experience in school with labels and misdiagnoses and tears and school phobia and teachers recommending anxiety medication on my blog. Our stories are so similar! Thanks for being brave enough to share yours and Naturalist’s. It’s been a tough road, but now that we’re homeschooling, it feels like coasting!

  2. I have the same problem.

    My son’s school doesn’t have done anything about it. They don’t even suggest it. I took him for an assessment myself. He is in third grade now.

    They say he has got an high verbal IQ (190) and that it is why LD got masked in the school. His hard work at home also counted.

    Assessment – He has spelling problems, difficulty to make sentence , perfectionism (not severe), problems with social skills even though he talks a lot , and AD which is not interfering with his academics as he is in lower standard and as he can grasp easily without paying much attention.

    Our mother tongue is malayalam and it is a horror for him. I don’t know if I will ever be able to teach him how to write in his mother tongue.

    His teacher’s say he is not attentive and is very sensitive. Thankfully his class teacher is very caring. But that is not the case with all the teachers.

    In the last term he was asked to stand out of the class three or four times for silly things. As his academics is very good they don’t make it an issue. But he comes home very upset. What they always say is there are children who are worse than this. It is okey.

    This term I am think I will have to talk to his class teacher about this . But I don’t know how I should go with it without offending them.

    Can anybody advice me on relevent points or things I should stress based on his problems?

    Any advice is welcome.

    I come from Kerala, India. Here homeschooling is not that prevalent. and so we don’t have that option.

    • I don’t know if homeschooling is only uncommon or actually illegal where you live. But, as your son’s mother, it is your duty (as the one who brought him into this world) to nurture, guide, and protect him. Find out if it’s legal for you to keep him home to learn. If it is, please do so! It has been a while since your post, but I hope that things have improved for him. Moving to another province or even country, if that’s what it takes to raise your son in a healthy environment, is an option.

      Speaking as one who had a horrible schooling experience in the US, don’t force your son to go every day to a place that is destructive to him. He doesn’t fit the pattern of the schooling system . . . but that doesn’t mean that he won’t ever speak malayalam. It means that he won’t learn it if you try to teach him the way they teach things at school.

  3. I know this is an old, old post, for the sake of those who will yet read it, I wanted to chime in.

    There is no such thing as a “learning disability”. There are only children who don’t fit the mold cast by the public school system. Albert Einstein said it in much better terms:

    “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.”

    And he spoke from experience. His 8th grade teacher declared he would never amount to anything, as he was (at that point) wholly incapable of grasping basic algebra.

    I honestly and fully believe that, far from doing a public service to help and support children, the public school systems of most countries (such as the US, Japan, and other post-industrial nations) actively prevent the rising generation from understanding and realizing their potential . . . my brother being one of them.

    He was “diagnosed” dyslexic; which means he was taught there was something wrong with him. As an adult, he’s fine. Reading, comprehension, all of it. His skills are just as good (if not better) than the next man’s. Without the construct of the schools to impress upon him that he was “behind”, “disabled”, and different from most of the other children, I doubt he would have many of the problems he has as an adult. (Low self-esteem, and very little motivation to improve himself or his situation, to name two.) He’s an incredible inter-personal learner, has always had an strong rapport with smaller children and older people, and a loving and kind heart for all of them . . . and yet that was completely ignored and marginalized, as “school is not an appropriate place for socializing”. His talents and abilities are ones sorely lacking in our world, weakening our communities and even the families in our world.

    And this has gotten to be quite the rant. :o) I’ll stop now. lol

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