Understanding Dyslexia: How Parents Can Support Their Kids

What does it mean to raise a child with dyslexia? How can parents understand it better so they help and support their child in the long run?

Do you sometimes think that your child is just not trying hard enough despite your repeated reminders to him to complete his homework?  Does it take hours to for him to do his homework? And do you get constant feedback from his teachers on poor results, untidy work, poor attitude and low confidence to even try in class?  Despite your best efforts in providing your child with expensive tuition, this does not bear fruit.  In my case, the tuition centre said they were unable to help my son as he was not doing his part as the other students were!  Imagine being told that your child was not good enough for the class. I have been in your situation, this was before my son, Thomas, then 7 years old, had undergone a full psychological assessment. He was diagnosed to have dyslexia.

The blame, guilt and sometimes shame does impact us as parents.  How we choose to approach and support our child is important.  We need to help them navigate the school system, advocating for them, and helping others to understand the issues that come with a learning difference.  In mainstream schools, children with dyslexia form the largest single group of children with special educational needs and with your voice, they can be successful in their learning journey.

After my son was diagnosed with dyslexia: 

Since Thomas’ diagnosis, my world has not been the same, it was a relief for me, his dad, and most importantly Thomas. I now understood the reasons behind his poor grades at school and why he was failing most spelling tests regardless of his repeated practice, all despite the fact that he had a high IQ.  

Understanding how dyslexia affected Thomas was the key for us to helping him succeed.

So what is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a type of specific learning difficulty identifiable as a developmental difficulty of language learning and cognition. It is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.  Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory, and processing speed.  Dyslexia can also co-occur with other learning difficulties such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Specific Language Impairment (SLI), Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Maths Difficulties (Dyscalculia), and as well as issues with concentration, written expression, social skills, and personal organisation to name a few. 

The dyslexic brain learns differently and learning can be laborious and not automatic.  Dyslexia can affect the way information is processed, perceived, organised, and sequenced. Individuals with dyslexia will need more time and more practice to learn what those without dyslexia do and seemingly effortlessly.  Teachers who have a positive attitude in supporting students with learning differences ensure that their classrooms are inclusive have better learning outcomes for their students.

Over the past 14 years as a Senior Educational Therapist at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore and Head of DAS International, I have worked with numerous students who display more than one Specific Learning difference.

As parents, we always want what is best for our children. Having dyslexia is not a barrier to success and we see many examples of famous dyslexics within our communities who despite their struggles went on to achieve. As parents, I believe that we need to create the right environment that ensures that your child’s self-esteem is nurtured and that your support is unwavering.  Thomas is now 22 years old and is in his second year at studying a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at the University of Toronto in Canada.  A dream that seemed impossible when he was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was seven.

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