- At a parent-teacher conference, the mother of a fifth grader was told that her child was just average and the parent needed to understand her child was not dyslexic as there was no such thing.
- Parents were told that there son was so smart in math and science. He was one of the teacher’s brightest students in third grade. The teacher wished he weren’t so lazy with his classwork and would try harder to turn in assignments that the teacher could read.
- The optometrist asked the mother of a first grader if she were sure her daughter was dyslexic. She was not “seeing” any letters backwards and her vision was excellent.
There is a lot of information on the Internet about dyslexia. Of course, most of what you may read about dyslexia is not research based. What you will find on the Internet and in your community (sometimes in your own family) will include a lot of myths about dyslexia. Be sure to consider the source of the information you are finding before giving it a lot of credibility to impact the decisions you are making for your child and family (and keeps you up at night questioning yourself).
MYTH #1 – If your child doesn’t reverse her letters and numbers she isn’t dyslexic.
We have heard this myth a lot. Our family optometrist even told us that she may not be dyslexic (based on his 30 minute exam and the fact that she could identify the limited letters he asked her about during that exam, with no signs of reversing letters).
For many young children (even those who are not dyslexic), they may identify their letters and numbers backwards as they are learning to write them (as noted by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia). Not all students with dyslexic learners are going to reverse their letters and/or numbers. But in our case, our daughter did reverse letters and numbers in her writing, spelling, and math.
MYTH #2 – Your child is too smart and creative to be dyslexic.
Dyslexics are slow readers, their writing may not be legible, and most are poor spellers. They may always struggle with reading, writing, and spelling to some degree – that is part of being dyslexic. But, they are also some of the most intelligent people you will ever meet. A dyslexic mind can literally see things that we cannot imagine. It is simply amazing to listen to a dyslexic child. They can actually visualize a finished project in their mind. Is your child great with puzzles, legos, or art?
Some of the most intelligent and successful people were dyslexic – Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, John Lennon, Thomas Edison, George Washington, and Steve Jobs. Today there are many people using their dyslexia strengths to build notable careers such as, Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Cher, Jay Leno, Richard Branson, Ted Turner, and Erin Brockovich.
MYTH #3 – If your child would just try harder, she would be a better student.
If a student is not remediated, the student will continue to struggle to learn to read and in school. As the student gets older the focus of learning to read changes to reading to learn. This may be where you start to see your child struggle the most. Your child may have been a wiz at math, but now is struggling. Is your child being introduced to word problems? Or are the problems being read verbally (so she is flipping the order of the numbers in the problem)?
It does not matter how much they study it will not just click at some point. Students with dyslexia struggle to access the sounds needed to read. It is not a matter of how much the student works at reading they will continue to struggle if not provided the skills needed for reading. However, since most dyslexic students are very smart they may compensate by showing strengths in other areas or acting out in class. Too often students are not identified as dyslexic until late elementary and sometimes as late as middle or high school. This is when standardized tests start being used more in schools to determine how much the student has learned in a class.
MYTH #4 – Dyslexics will never learn to read.
Well . . . this one could be true, if she is not identified as dyslexic and taught how to break the code to read. She must be taught how to pull apart the sounds and determine it’s meaning. She will always struggle to write, spell, and read. It may take her longer to read long and difficult text, but she can be very successful in her career and life due to the way her dyslexic mind actually works. Once students learn reading strategies, they can use those strategies to become a better reader. However, dyslexic learners will also benefit from audio books, more time to complete assignments, and speech-to-text technology to learn.
MYTH #5 – A student can’t be tested for dyslexia until she is in the third grade or older. We have to wait to see if the reading problems are developmental or not.
A student can be tested for dyslexia as young as kindergarten. If there is dyslexia in the family history, an assessment should be completed early so that the student may be remediated as early as possible. We know the younger the child the easier it is to learn the reading strategies. As students begin to struggle, their self-esteem will also take a hit! You may see signs of bullying or your child not wanting to go to school at all. This happened to us in first grade. Haddie would tell me (literally every day) before school that her tummy hurt. During the day, Haddie would also tell her teacher she didn’t feel well. Watch for signs that your child may be having social and emotional struggles.
The best advice I can give you here is to use your mom intuition. When you get to the point where you are ready for an evaluation, ready to choose a school and/or a private tutor, or make a plan for your child’s school year . . . listen to what you know is right for your child and make a plan for what your child needs at that point.
NEXT STEP . . . throw these myths in the trash!
You can decide to ignore the wrong information that is out in the world about dyslexia or try to educate others about dyslexia. I decided I would support moms who are working through the same daily struggles we are all facing as moms raising children with dyslexia. I want you to have the support that you need through this journey. Our kiddos are bright, smart, and caring! With you as a mom, your child will know you are in his or her corner no matter how much they struggle. It is never too late to start remediating your dyslexic learner. Stay strong!
P.S. I would love to hear from you. Where are you stuck? Where are you struggling with the next steps for your child? Email me – Nicole