Fear of Labeling
Do you struggle with the idea of labeling your child with a learning disability? If so, you’re not alone. Often parents are concerned that labeling will be harmful and will stigmatize their child. Some parents fear that their child will become the target of other students, possibly face bullying, or exclusion. Other parents worry that a label will limit their child’s opportunities for the future. We believe believe labeling does just the opposite. Labeling provides you, and especially your child, with an explanation for their reading and learning struggles, freeing them of the stigmas, opening a world of possibilities.
Relief for Students
You can be sure that your otherwise bright child, even at young age, understands and recognizes that they aren’t learning to read like their peers. One family told us that their kindergarten aged son told them “I think my brain is broken”. Another family explained that upon seeing a commercial for a tutoring center on T.V., their third grader insisted they call immediately so that he could learn to read. Children know they can’t read or don’t learn like their peers, and often think it is their fault. Providing a label explains to your child the reason they struggle. They need to understand that their brain is not broken, it is just wired differently than the other students, and different can be good.
Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that dyslexics are bright, and often have higher than average intelligence. They are not lazy or unmotivated, instead they are exhausted from trying so hard. Dyslexics expend from 5 – 20 times as much energy reading, and comprehending than traditional learners. They struggle with each new word until it becomes hard-wired in their brain. Because their brains are literally wired differently, they struggle extracting words from their long-term memory. Dyslexic students are often thought to be daydreaming and not paying attention, drawing or doodling. Instead, they are occupying one part of their brain, while the other is listening intently (just ask them). Additionally, dyslexics tend to have other conditions along with dyslexia, including anxiety, depression and Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder. Understanding your child through labeling helps children and adults understand that there is an explanation for their difficulties, and there is help.
A Learning Difference
Dyslexia varies from mild to moderate, to severe to profound and may include difficulty with reading and spelling, poor handwriting, trouble with comprehension and fluency, and difficulty with math. What is important, when you learn through formal or informal diagnosis, is to share this information with your child, even at a young age. Teaching a child about dyslexia is like teaching them that they have a heart condition. If a child suffers from a medical condition, surely you would share with them the reason for their exhaustion, and struggle. You would also provide them the accommodations they need to lead a healthy and normal life. The same applies to learning your child has a learning difference, or dyslexia.
Learning that your child is dyslexic provides parents an opportunity to understand their student and their needs. Naming the condition, you provide an explanation and can learn to focus on the gifts, and “sea of strengths” that come with being dyslexic.
Labeling Gives it a Name
We say label and learn. Free your child (and yourself) from the myths and misconceptions about dyslexia, and embrace the strengths and gifts your child has been given.
Kristin Clark is a contributing author to Reading Success Plus, and is a member of Decoding Dyslexia – Michigan. Kristin is the parent of a high schooler who is dyslexic. Please contact us or subscribe to learn more at: www.readingsuccessplus.com.