Dealing with Dyslexia

These days learning disabilities, like dyslexia, are more accepted than in the past. Even so, many children struggle with the effects of their disability and sometimes the stigma associated with this. Some adults also struggle with diagnosis and acceptance, and the wounds of these from their childhood. Our Centre director, Owen Connolly, has had to work through his own learning difficulty, and in today’s #ThursdayThoughts post he talks about it, as described in his book for fathers, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE DYSLEXIA?

Dyslexia is a term given to people who have difficulty reading or writing because certain neurological connections aren’t being made. The child who suffers in this way may be disruptive to get the attention away from their disability. Parents need to watch out for this. Often it’s the teacher who first notices the signs. They become suspicious when they see a bright child having problems with reading and writing. This often comes as a surprise to parents because the dyslexic child often demonstrates a real desire for learning. Some signs that teachers and parents pick up on are 1) the child having trouble recognising or spelling words, 2) not being able to structure their essays very well, 3) when spelling, reversing their letters, 4) poor short-term memory causing difficulty with reading comprehension passages or remembering names or recalling certain types of information, 5) poor handwriting, and 6) difficulty writing things off of the board. Dyslexic children often beat themselves up for not being able to do what other children can do.

As a dyslexic myself, I’m very aware that I used to hide my own dyslexia through various methods that I developed. When I was growing up, there was no such word as dyslexia, or if it was around, very few people knew about it. I would have been called lazy or stupid or other terms that are not printable! I couldn’t understand why there were so many things I found it easy to do and other things that were very difficult. A big impediment in my own future development was made worse by the fact that my struggle wasn’t understood. What I had to look forward to every day at school was getting slapped for spelling words wrong or having difficulty in language classes. Fortunately, I just persisted and believed a little bit more in myself than perhaps other people did, and in time, I was able to overcome the fear around reading or writing, even if I couldn’t overcome the dyslexia. I’m still affected by it and have to find other ways to read or write or prepare documentation.

leonardo had dyslexiaIf your child is having trouble writing down what’s on the board or reading passages, you really need to examine them just to see if they have some kind of dyslexia and may need help with it. Things are very different from when I was growing up. Schools and parents today commit themselves enthusiastically to the benefit of children with learning disabilities and do enormous work to help them through their struggles. People like Leonard da Vinci and John F. Kennedy and many other inventors, artists and leaders were dyslexic, so you can reach fame and fortune and make a big impact on the world in spite of these difficulties. Perhaps their learning disability meant that these people could see things in slightly different ways and therefore make a unique contribution.

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