When Managing Dyslexia, You Never Know What You're Going to Get
Many years ago when I began my work in dyslexia, I quickly realized that the experts who were trying to teach about it were missing the mark and, often times, overcomplicating things.
While with my training I was able to interpret the data, the research, the neurological, and educational information, parents and most teachers were not.
I was also given a list of wonderful research books and advised to make sure I shared them with parents to read after their child was diagnosed with dyslexia.
Like any good apprentice, I followed my mentors' advice, but it wasn’t long before I came to the conclusion that this method wasn’t working.
This wasn’t the time to ask parents to read research about dyslexia. They were overwhelmed with daily struggles and needed a plan - and some hope - that things would get better. They had to be given the information they needed not study for it.
So I set out to find a way to simplify dyslexia while maintaining the facts and truth. My intention was to feed people the information in chunks that they could grasp while maintaining a level of curiosity to keep learning.
One day while watching “Forrest Gump” again, I had one of those “aha!” moments we all have where, hearing a line you’ve heard a million times before, it suddenly takes on a different meaning.
It was that signature line from the movie that, if I were to begin to say it out loud, I have no doubt you would be able to finish the sentence for me: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.”
Suddenly, I thought, “what if I substituted “life” with the word “Dyslexia”?”...
Dyslexia is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.
That simple phrase is the first step to really understand Dyslexia.
It has taken years for me to really figure out what it is about the brain of a dyslexic person that inspires me.
I happen to be a chocoholic so there is that, but actually what I love even more is discovering something new. There is sort of a mystery to a box of chocolates and today my practice is based on solving the mystery of the dyslexic brain.
Just like a box of chocolate, when you open it you automatically see a common thread: it's all chocolate, but what makes the box so special is what is inside the individual pieces of chocolate.
Our brains are designed to compartmentalize learning, but you can’t compartmentalize dyslexia.
We automatically know that the dyslexic brain struggles with language. But a number of academic struggles result from a difficulty with language that aren't related to dyslexia. And when they are, they can look very different in a person with dyslexia.
I have sat through hours and hours of training, read most books on the subject, and certified myself in a majority of the curriculum that claims to be the ONE that will work.
But what I’ve learned in working with dyslexia is that no ONE program, ONE test, or ONE book is the answer to every instance and struggle with dyslexia.
If you teach or know someone with dyslexia, then I invite you to read my book, "Raise Your Hand if You're a Platypus."
My purpose in writing the book is to give parents and teachers a way that makes dyslexia approachable and less intimidating so that they and become curious about those that they teach and love.
In it, I've shared what years of clinical intervention have taught me: that every student with Dyslexia is different and the first step in teaching them is being open to the mystery that surrounds dyslexia.
My aim is to offer you a way to learn more about dyslexia and how you can start a conversation with your struggling child so you can discover more about their dyslexia and through that understanding, build hope for the future.
Most parents and teachers expect every dyslexic child and every experience in dealing with it to be the same. In reality, it's going to be like when you bite into a piece of chocolate with the expectation that you're going to taste some luscious caramel, but instead taste strawberry nougat.
You know what I am talking about; we've all done it a time or two. And our initial reaction when it happens is confusion and disappointment.
But what if you took that piece of chocolate in your hand with a different mindset? What if you approached it instead with the forethought that you won't know what you're going to taste when you bite into that piece of chocolate, but that you're willing to try it anyway?
Would your reaction be the same? I don’t think so.
I treat every student who walks through my door as an opportunity for a new experience and the possibility of discovery. There is no expectation, other than that each child will provide me with the pleasure of something new, unique, and special.
And it's in that openness where the best learning and teaching takes place. It's also what equips me with the gift of giving parents and teachers a solution to stop the struggle in their smart child.
About a child with dyslexia, a teacher, and a platypus, this short story offers a new perspective on the makeup of a child with dyslexia. Told from the child's perspective, the book serves as a conversation starter to help other children, parents, and teachers understand the frustrations, shame, and struggle of not being able to read. It should be read by anyone who has a loved one with a learning difference and is in search of a solution to stop the struggle.
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Behaviours & Signs That Your Child May Have Dyslexia PDF
Do you wonder if behaviors you notice in your child are related to dyslexia or to something else?
Our comprehensive list of the behavioral signs of Dyslexia can help you know.