Regardless of when parents receive a dyslexia diagnosis for their child, this news can bring up a lot of emotions. Many parents want to be supportive and encouraging of their child, but they may also be experiencing a range of feelings as they process this news themselves. Although it can feel challenging and confusing at first, having conversations about dyslexia is one of the best things parents can do with their children. Talking about dyslexia helps promote understanding for both parents and kids, and a simple discussion can go a long way in the development of a dyslexic child. Read below to learn more about how to start and continue conversations about dyslexia with your child.
Start the Conversation After a Dyslexia Diagnosis
Starting the conversation about dyslexia can be tough, and many parents may not know where to start. After a dyslexia diagnosis, many children may feel a sense of relief knowing that there is an explanation for the challenges they have likely been experiencing in school. Help your child understand that they are not broken or wrong, but that their brain just works a little differently and responds better to some specific ways of teaching. Most importantly, parents should include discussions about a dyslexic child’s strengths. Leading up to a diagnosis, a child with dyslexia likely experiences negative emotions about themselves and their ability to succeed as they face challenges in school. Parents, teachers, and peers must encourage a child to recognize their strengths and develop a sense of confidence that they are smart and capable with a dyslexia diagnosis.
Continue Having Conversations Throughout School
While initiating these conversations after a diagnosis is essential, these discussions must continue throughout a child’s time in school. Parents can encourage children to have a positive view of themselves by using the word “dyslexia” often and without shame or embarrassment. In many cases, dyslexic students have had to problem solve and think in new ways when standard teaching strategies fall short, which can make them hard-working and creative thinkers. As time goes on and dyslexic students learn more effectively in school with accommodations and interventions, parents and teachers must continue to talk with children about their unique strengths and weaknesses that have been affected by dyslexia. Developing an understanding of how dyslexia contributes to both strengths and weaknesses can help students acknowledge qualities they can be proud of and areas they can grow in.
Provide Age-Appropriate Resources
One of the most valuable lessons parents can reinforce in dyslexic children is that, even though dyslexia may make some things hard, they are capable of anything and everything they put their minds to. Parents can help children understand this message by providing age-appropriate resources, including books, television shows, and movies, that feature characters with learning differences like dyslexia. Representation matters, and when dyslexic children see characters like themselves do amazing things in stories, they believe they can do amazing things as well.
Throughout these conversations, it is important to be honest and acknowledge that certain activities in and out of school may be hard for your child. But in spite of these challenges, dyslexic individuals often develop a unique and creative way of looking at the world. When having conversations about dyslexia, parents can recognize the hardships and celebrate the ways children are better because of them.
The Dyslexia Resource is proud to support parents and children before, during, and after a dyslexia diagnosis. We work to empower members of the dyslexic community by providing helpful resources for parents, educators, and individuals. Learn more about our opportunities for continuing education, explore our website, or donate to The Dyslexia Resource today!
This blog was written with contributions from Ellen Hill.