Embracing Dyslexia – Unravelling the Invisible Disability

Embracing Dyslexia – Unravelling the Invisible Disability

Waht euw tinhk dyxlessia kloos liek.

The disappearance of abstract words – disorientation – words appear in 3D…

Wouldn’t this make you want to give up reading entirely?

The mind of a person with dyslexia is not weak; their mind functions differently.

What if you missed stepping out of the train because you couldn’t read and comprehend the instructions of when to get off at the right stop?

Getting left behind feels disheartening, and that’s what an undiagnosed child with dyslexia ultimately experiences.

Dyslexia has long been termed as the invisible disability because it often went unnoticed. This neurological condition caused varying degrees of difficulty in reading at a good pace, comprehension, spelling and writing. Although, it had nothing to with an individual’s level of intelligence, a person’s smartness or lack thereof was used as a connecting factor.

When the labelling begins

Due to the inability of a child with dyslexia to grasp concepts in school as easily as their peers, they were unhesitatingly labelled as being ‘too lazy’, ‘weak-minded’ and ‘incompetent’, among other terms. Unfortunately, people with dyslexia have struggled for a long time until their condition was finally identified as a learning challenge.

Moreover, children with dyslexia found it extremely frustrating as they were unable to meet their parents and teacher’s academic expectations. They worked very hard to study in school, but were eventually deemed as a student with ‘great potential but not working hard enough’.

Therefore, it is essential to discuss dyslexia, so we can learn to embrace and overcome its challenges.

Life before being diagnosed with Dyslexia

To properly discuss Dyslexia, it is imperative to learn about the experiences of people who’ve lived with Dyslexia. In understanding what they’ve been through, it would be more comprehensible to get an idea of what a child with dyslexia is up against.

  • The story of young Chennai-based entrepreneur, Arun Fernandez was published in the Deccan Herald in 2019. Before talking about how he established a flourishing career, he reveals the years he missed because of not being diagnosed early on in his childhood.

He had moved to four different schools until he was finally identified with dyslexia when he was 13 years old. Before this, he experienced being labelled as ‘stupid’ or ‘useless’, and often chided for not being able to read. He found it extremely difficult to write, and so, scoring high marks in exams was out of the question.

  • Harsh Doshi was dyslexic as a child, and his experience was posted on ‘My Story’ in ‘The Logical Indian’. Harsh was a victim of bullying in school due to the inability to read effectively like his peers. Harsh was not only struggling with Dyslexia but also Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

It was a tough childhood for Harsh as he recalled his first day at school when he could not understand a single word. His mother would find his notebooks blank, and so would make repeated attempts to help him memorise words at least a hundred times.

Harsh talked about how children his age could read without effort and also tie their shoelaces right, whereas he struggled at every step. He was made fun of and was called ‘dumb’ or ‘tube light’. In the third grade, his parents were told that he may not clear his exams and pass on to the fourth grade.

Was having dyslexia the result of one’s inability to learn effectively, or was it the lack of awareness of this condition? Indeed, it could be a cross-linking of both reasons, however, the frustration these children encounter is mostly due to their inability to meet expectations. Luckily, for a few Dyslexia is diagnosed early, but what about the rest?

Embracing Dyslexia

After Dyslexia is diagnosed in a child, the next step is to embrace it before one can make attempts to overcome it.

Firstly, the apprehension to accept that your child has dyslexia may come naturally. A parent without discussing dyslexia may look at the future filled with complex challenges. However, embracing this condition makes it possible to overcome it as well.

Your plan of action is to help the student or child emotionally to accept that they are able and that they can overcome Dyslexia. For this, you have to begin researching dyslexia and understanding what it’s all about. You have to understand that Dyslexia is a continuum, which means that it happens in varying degrees in a child and it’s not the same experience for all children with dyslexia.

Diagnosis versus identification

As the awareness of dyslexia is increasing, teachers are able to identify if a student has learning issues. However, when it comes to a diagnosis, it involves conducting different levels of assessment that are done by a neuropsychologist. These include phonemic awareness assessment, comprehension and processing, among other related assessments. Several assessment tools are used to identify the learning issues of the child, from their problem with writing to hold attention, comprehend, and other specific challenges.

After a proper diagnosis is done, it is easier for the parents and the teachers to learn how to accommodate the child. They are in a better position to help the child learn in an environment more conducive to their learning pattern.

What parents of a child with dyslexia should expect?

When you hear about your child having dyslexia, it is time to build on your child’s strengths. Take a deeper look into what they enjoy doing, and what they’re good at doing.

Understand that a child with dyslexia actually has a unique perspective towards the things they see. And so, recognising this quality in them is one of the most profound feelings you can experience with them. These kids are creative and inventive, being skilled at maths, art, or science, etc.

Parents need to feel stressed about the situation, because the more stressed a parent is, the higher stress is felt by the child. So, accepting the child for who they are, and then figuring out the ways that support and empower them to grow productively.

What teachers of a student with dyslexia should expect?

Teachers play a critical role in shaping a student’s mind as they progress and learn. However, for a child with dyslexia, the stakes are higher, which means teachers that need to be better prepared. For example, most children unidentified with dyslexia may take three hours more to complete their homework compared to a child with regular learning capabilities.

These children have to put in great effort to understand what is being taught in school, they have to comprehend it, and then produce it. To reiterate, doing this takes great pain and effort through their mind, and by the time they come home, they are mentally exhausted, but then they’ve to do homework. The struggle is endless until they are given ways to learn differently.

So, teachers need to be more understanding for these children. They can work up some strategies to help energise the child, and devise alternative ways to do assignments. Advocating a more flexible approach to teaching students with Dyslexia will help them progress lengths unimaginable. It just takes a different route from the norm, and that’s okay.

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