How To Talk To Your Child About Dyslexia?
Updated: Jul 1
Dyslexia is surely a sensitive issue, and due to the lack of awareness and prejudices, there is a lot of stigmas around it, both at personal and social levels. For a small child, who has been diagnosed with this condition, might not apparently know or understand what it means to be ‘dyslexic’. Yet, everywhere he/she goes, they are labelled and treated differently. Many of them face adverse attitudes even from their own family and friends. And, all because we have our pre-conceived myths about it and we are not ready to accept them.
This cause immense trauma and pain to not only the child, but also his/her parents. But, before we get geared to tackle the external problems, it is important to handle the situation internally. It is important to talk to the child about the situation and gauge the differences in thoughts and opinions. It is important to understand what they are feeling and have heart-to-heart conversations.
In this article, we will touch upon different aspects on how you can converse and communicate with your child about dyslexia and its nuances.
The International Dyslexia Association states that:
"Having a child diagnosed with dyslexia can be a traumatic experience. While dyslexia can make reading more difficult, with the right instruction, almost all individuals with dyslexia can learn to read. Dyslexia is a neurological condition caused by a different wiring of the brain. There is no cure for dyslexia and individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies. Research indicates that dyslexia has no relationship to intelligence. Individuals with dyslexia are neither more nor less intelligent than the general population. But some say the way individuals with dyslexia think can actually be an asset in achieving success."
When parents get to know about a dyslexia diagnosis for their child, it brings up a lot of emotions in them. 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.
Though it can be a challenging task for both the child and the parents, talking about it can help in better understanding for both parents and kids, and a simple discussion can go a long way in the development of a dyslexic child. Read on to get some tips on how to strike a conversation and explain it to your child.
1. Choose the right setup: Choose a neutral place. Don’t start talking about it in front of others which might put them in a difficult situation. Choose the right time when their mind is calm and peaceful.
2. Explain what it means: Explain first the challenges that they might be facing so that they can relate. Then, you can tell them that dyslexia is just a big word to explain why some people find it hard to learn to read, write and spell. Everyone is different and the way they learn is different. So, assure them that they are not the odd ones out or they are not alone. Most importantly, explain that it is not their fault in any way.
3. Use examples and resources: Talk about different famous people who are dyslexic yet they have achieved so much in life. Tell them famous personality stories. Use story books and illustrations which will help them understand it better.
4. Be clear and consistent: Talk about facts in a language that they will understand. Be consistent and do not deviate from what you are telling them. Do not converse in a way that you are trying to hide something or it is something shameful. Let the child know that this explains why s/he is having difficulty at school.
5. Explain how their interactions might change: Once the child understands the condition, now the big task is to handle the external differences. Prepare them to understand how their friends and relationships might be affected. Many kids are supportive and empathetic to their dyslexic friends, however there can be many others who might behave differently. Talk to them on how they might be hearing different labels and nicknames and the fact that this is because most people are not aware. This brings us to the next point.
6. Give guidance on how to react: This is probably one of the most important parts wherein you have to prepare them both physically and mentally. Tell them that they do not need to feel uncomfortable when someone talks to them about dyslexia. Give them different instances and tell them how they can handle the situations.
7. Explain what kind of help they can get: Explain to them that there are people who will help them with their problems. They may worry that their teachers think they are not trying. But they need to know that the school understands their challenges — and has ways to help.
8. Reassure them that you are there: Most importantly, keep all communication channels open and reassure them about their present and future. Be prepared to discuss the problem with your child more than once. They will take it all in the first time. You may need to return to the subject many times over the years. Give them strength mentally and build the trust so that they can discuss anything with you if the need comes.
At times, even if you do not have a dyslexic, child, you might nee to talk to them about it because they need to understand that their dyslexic friend is also one of them and how to interact with them. This will help them imbibe empathy and care.