I talk a lot with parents and children about dyslexia and the number one concern is about the future. Is your dyslexic child going to be successful? What does the future hold for them? It would be a little glib for me just to say 'yes, they will be, hang on in there', so I want to tell you a couple of stories.
Ben Aged 13.
As a lot of you know, dyslexia doesn't often occur on it's own but with a set of other issues. In the case of Ben, he also has some vision problems which have been corrected with coloured glasses and motor issues which have been corrected over time with appropriate exercises, following guidance of a professional in this area.
I first started working with Ben when he was about 8 because his reading was very poor, he didn't want to read and he was really struggling. He definitely couldn't split words up into their sounds and he wasn't particularly great at learning whole words visually either; all of this adds up to a fairly profound weakness in the skills you need to read ( you can read more about why your child isn't reading here).
Fast forward 5 years and he is now reading at age appropriate levels which has really helped him with all of his subjects at secondary school. We still practice reading every week because this is a great way to keep his vocabulary developing and he needs to read more challenging stories and texts so that he does well at GCSE. Now, we are concentrating on writing and spelling skills because these are the weak areas now.
I am sharing this story with you, because it is success in the making. Some parents have told me that they don't always find success stories that useful because they really can't relate to them at that moment in time. Your child is struggling to read and you can't see a time when this will change.
The secrets to Ben's success are:
1. His parents realised he needed to develop his skills to become a good reader
2. They decided to employ specialist help to do this ( you don't need to employ specialist help, but you do need to understand the skills to develop)
3. He was young when they started the process
Jodie is a friend's daughter who was discovered to be dyslexic at 14. For her it was a relief to know why she was struggling with her writing and spelling. Writing was a particular issue for her because she was having problems with organising her ideas, getting them down on paper and ensuring the sentences made sense. She was also quite slow at reading, needing to reread often to ensure she had understood what was being said.
However, she was very good at science and took a scientific approach to her problems by analysing what was an issue and thinking about how she could help herself improve on these skills. She attended a short course which was designed to help dyslexic students develop strategies to help them with their work.
It also has to be said, that she had a lot of determination and a mind set which meant that she was not going to let her dyslexia stop her from achieving her goals.
Fast forward about 15 years, Jodie has obtained good GCSE's,A levels, Honours Degree, Masters and a PhD. She had been working as a business analyst but recently has set up her own catering business. There is no reason why your child can't continue in education if that is where they see their path going.
The secrets to her success:
1. Supportive parents who enrolled her on the specialist course and continued to provide her with help and support themselves in her studies
2. Determination and a 'this will not defeat me' attitude
In both stories, the role of parents was central. You are that supportive parent so you already have a key part of the success story. To ensure that your child will also be successful you can:
1. Understand what your child's key weakness is at the moment
2. Develop a plan for how you are going to remedy this ( school meetings, educate yourself on what skills your child needs to develop to remedy this, employ a specialist yourself)
3.Be patient and realise that if you have a plan in place, it will start to work.
In answer to the initial question, can a dyslexic child be successful - yes they absolutely can. I am about to launch a podcast where I will interview dyslexic people who are successful to find out how they managed to get where they are today. My aim is to provide you with a road map for success.
If you would like to receive links to my podcast on it's launch, please sign up here.
If you aren't sure about whether you are giving your child the right amount of help, read my blog post about this here.