02 Oct New Dyslexia Diagnosis, Now What? Tips For Sharing the Diagnosis with Your Child
By: Lindsey Dogali
In honor of dyslexia awareness month, I am sharing parent tips for how to talk with your child about dyslexia.
There is a plethora of information out there about the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, effective intervention, and school-based accommodations. However, there is much less about how to navigate a challenging conversation with your child about their new diagnosis.
5 TIPS FOR TALKING WITH YOUR CHILD ABOUT DYSLEXIA:
Tip 1. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO PROVIDE THE LABEL DYSLEXIA. Many kids and teens are relieved to learn that there is a NAME to explain why they have trouble reading.
Tip 2. PROVIDE THE FACTS. Be careful not to bombard your child with too much information too soon. Instead, choose a few of the facts below to share… then allow your child the time and space to ask more questions. This is a conversation that will develop over time!
Fact 1: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that makes reading more difficult. Personalize your description based on your child’s symptoms (for example: difficulty sounding out words, retaining sight words, fluency, comprehension, spelling, etc.)
Fact 2: Dyslexia runs in families. You can mention a parent, sibling, or other family member that also has reading struggles.
Fact 3: Approximately 15-20% of people have symptoms of dyslexia. To put this in perspective, if your child has 30 students in his or her class, there’s a good chance that about 5 other kids also meet criteria for dyslexia. They are not alone!
Fact 4: Dyslexic brains are “wired” differently (NOT deficiently). In the brain, there are roads for math, roads for learning to read, roads for spelling, roads for visualization, etc. For your child, the roads for ____ (insert their areas of difficulty) have some obstacles in the way, and special tutors will help to remove those obstacles so you can learn better and make school more fun!
Fact 5: Dyslexia has NOTHING to do with intelligence! Discuss specific strengths that were highlighted in your child’s evaluation.
Fact 6: Dyslexia has NOTHING to do with motivation! Make sure to validate your child’s efforts in school. Students with dyslexia are often working MUCH harder than a typical student but performance does not match that level of effort.
Fact 7: Due to the unique brain architecture and “unusual wiring,” many dyslexics have special gifts.
Fact 8: Dyslexia will not hold you back from being a successful student or adult! This is a time to share with your child some dyslexia success stories. Take a look at Dyslexia Achievers
Tip 3. BE POSITIVE; DON’T COMMUNICATE DESPAIR! Your children are perceptive and will be able to read your tone. Stay positive! Communicate the message that, yes, this is an obstacle but not the end of the world. Ensure your child that he or she WILL improve reading skills with the right help (skilled tutors, accommodations in school, assistive technology). If you have an older child or adolescent, communicate that it is NEVER too late to get help. Even adults benefit from effective intervention and lifelong use of accommodations!
Tip 4. REMAIN CALM; DO NOT PROJECT ANXIETY! Many parents are anxious about the evaluation process, results, and how their child will handle the news. However, many kids actually handle it remarkably well. Do not assume he or she will feel upset, embarrassed or anxious (although it is understandable if he or she does feel that way).
Tip 5. FOSTER STRENGTHS AND INTERESTS. As parents, your job is to keep talking about and encouraging your child’s strengths. Help your child find an interest or hobby. This can be sports, art, theater, cooking, volunteering, coding- it doesn’t really matter what it is! The important thing is that the activity builds confidence and positive feelings and provides a break from academic struggles.
|International Dyslexia Association: www.interdys.org|
National Learning Disability Organization: https://www.ncld.org
Bright Solutions for Dyslexia: www.dys-add.com
Academy of Orton-Gillingham: https://www.ortonacademy.org
Questions? Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-679-8185.