Words of Encouragement
Many parents and teachers wanted to share their words of encouragement. They felt it was important for all parents going through this to know they are not alone.
"Don’t be ashamed to ask for help and don’t worry about what others say or think if they don’t understand dyslexia. 1 in 5 people are dyslexic and it is the most common specific learning disability. Dyslexia is not linked to IQ." - Parent
While it can be difficult for some to understand at first, dyslexia has nothing to do with a child's level of intelligence. At the beginning there will be so many things which are unknown. Finding help from specialists and a community of parents can help to provide you with the necessary education and support you will need.
"Dyslexia can be viewed as a superpower when given the right tools and instruction. Always focus on the incredible strengths of the child while supporting their unique needs in the process. For every weakness, there are always 5 strengths!" - Special Education Teacher
Many of the most prolific, remarkable, intelligent, and creative people in history have had/have dyslexia. Knowing how to troubleshoot the difficulties while also fostering the strengths, can lead to real magic in your child's life.
"Always have high expectations for your child and their teachers."- Parent and Teacher
As with any neurodivergence or learning disability, you want to maintain high expectations for all involved. While accommodations and modifications can help scaffold your child's learning, you and your child's teachers should always continue to aim high in terms of educational goals.
Education is Power
Getting smart on the process, the diagnosis, and the available accommodations and supports was another piece of advice that frequently came up.
"Learn how to navigate the IEP process with dyslexia as a diagnosis." - Parent
The IEP and 504 plan process can be lengthy and confusing. Make sure to put everything in writing, ask any questions that arise, and follow up throughout the process and implementation of the plan. Your child's teacher, the school's learning specialist/special education teacher, and the school psychologist can be great resources. For more information on the difference between 504 plans and IEPs, check out this recent blog post.
"Educate yourselves and be knowledgeable about whatever difficulties your child is having so when recommendations are given, you are a part of the discussion." - Parent
By understanding your child's learning experiences, the problems that might arise with a dyslexia diagnosis, what you can and cannot expect from your child's school, and what supports and accommodations are available, you can more actively participate in discussions regarding your child's academic career. There are many wonderful books, websites, and organizations available to parents and students.
"Read and learn all you can about your child’s neurodivergence. Share and teach the people around your child too. The more you know, the more confidence you will have. You can do it!"
Learning about your child's dyslexia not only helps you advocate for them, it gives you the conviction to educate those around you as well. There is so much misinformation regarding neurodivergencies. Having more knowledge and understanding will equip you with the power to shed light on your child's experience and incredible strengths.
Be an Advocate
The most resounding theme across those who submitted advice was advocacy. Understand your child's struggles, understand your rights, and understand how to speak up for the best interest of your child.
"Trust your intuition about what you are seeing with your child. If you feel as though something is not quite right, look into it. Educate yourself!" - Parent
Nobody knows your child better than you. Parents know when things aren't right and have a deep understanding of their child's struggles. If there are concerns at any point in the process, you always have the right to speak up.
That being said,
"There are things you will know more about and things your child’s evaluators will know more about. Work together!"- Special Education Teacher
It's also important to acknowledge that children act and perform differently at school. Additionally, many of your child's teachers, evaluators, and doctors will have extensive knowledge about aspects of this journey. Each party contributing their specific knowledge and understanding through a collaborative approach can make the experience more successful.
"At first signs of issues, request in writing, to the teacher, principal, school psychologist and special educator, a request for a full evaluation based on the issues that you as the parent are seeing. If/when you get push back/denial, submit in writing again an IEE (individual educational evaluation). This is so the school/district will pay for an outside evaluation." - Parent
As your child's primary advocate, it is important that you know you have options. While testing and services can be provided at no cost to families for both public and private school students, oftentimes families might need something more. Private evaluations can offer a second opinion in the event your child does not qualify for an IEP or 504 plan, as well as offering a more comprehensive and detailed assessment. Additionally, in-school services might not be enough to meet your child's academic needs. For more information about options that are available for your family, click here.
While every child and parent's journey with dyslexia is unique with its own set of challenges and victories, it is important to remember you are not alone. Finding a community of those with shared experiences can offer a safe space to lean into. Remember to always give yourself grace and understand that there are always going to be things along the way that present a challenge.
Always keep in mind, as one parent shared, "This is a journey, not a destination."