Dyslexia

Ron over at Atypical Homeschool has an interesting post on Dyslexia. He has a lot of thought provoking words to say about dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and LDs in general. I’d like to point out this passage in particular:

“I think that many children are able to do similar things when they are in that age range. IMO, dyslexia is only a disability in school. I believe that dyslexics can mentally flip things around on the fly and whether it is a b or a d does not slow them down. It’s when they are under pressure to pick the one that we recognize as being right that a problem surfaces. The fact that young children spell would ‘woulb’ doesn’t mean they don’t know how it’s spelled. It might say that they are brighter and more capable than we are.”

Also:

  1. NASA recruits dyslexics. The statistic I was given in the workshop mentioned above is that over 50% of their staff are dyslexic.
  2. A substantial number of children exhibit symptoms of dyslexia at ages 5-6.
  3. The majority of the children above (I believe about 2/3) lose the symptoms by age 8.
  4. I have a CD at home of a workshop given by a doctor specializing in learning disabilities. I’m going to paraphrase what she said regarding the studies she had participated in in the study of dyslexia:

    Medically there is only one way that she had found that would differentiate between a young dyslexic and non dyslexic child. The fact that a young child showed symptoms of dyslexia was not an indication that they were dyslexic. The medical test consists of monitoring the child’s brain with an EEG while giving it a test. Not a medical test but a school test like spelling. What the EEG shows is the degree and type of stress the child experiences.”

Pressure and scrutiny. It’s interesting that the more pressure and the more scrutiny you put onto a child, the more likely it is you’ll find something wrong.

In school, where kids have to be in lock step with the class in order for things to run smoothly for everyone, scrutiny and pressure are the tools used to pick out the kids who aren’t moving at the right pace. In a homeschool situation, we have the choice to scrutinize or not. Some choose homeschooling as a way to scrutinize even more and put on even more pressure. But many choose homeschooling as a way to ease up on the scrutiny and let kids learn at their own pace.

Scrutiny makes us feel better, but when does it help kids learn? Can scrutiny be replaced by awareness?

Just as kids grow taller without our scrutiny, so do they learn. Every once in a while, a child isn’t growing and it takes some scrutiny to figure out why. But the vast majority of children will grow in their sleep, without mom or dad checking to make sure.

My son, when he was 6months old, stopped growing. He got chubbier and chubbier, but just stopped growing taller. The doctor was very concerned and sent our son in for a battery of tests. We were to bring him in every week to be measured. For about four months we did this. It was stressful for us all, and my husband and I were torn between being worried and knowing in our hearts that he was a healthy, happy kid who would eventually grow when it was time.

After the tests came back negative, the doctor wanted to do them again, just to make sure. He wanted to find the cause. He gave us the referral to a different lab. My husband and I went home, looked at our son who was happily learning to crawl and pull to standing. He was as short guy, but developing normally and eating and gaining weight. We decided right then and there not to go to the lab and not to test him. We also stopped going back to get him measured.

Almost instantly we relaxed, and just stopped judging his growth. Instead, we focused on providing a lot of love and freedom to play and develop. We just stopped worrying. If he did have a thyroid problem or any of the other possibilities the doctor described, we would know. In every other possible way, he was a healthy guy. There was absolutely no rush.

Two months later when we went back for his one year check up, he had grown an inch. He still was WAY under the 5% in height, but it that wasn’t important. It wasn’t important how tall he was compared to everyone else in the world. It was only important that he was growing in his own way. The doctor was still concerned. We weren’t. We let the doctor worry.

His growth continued to be slow until he was about three. Then, sometime later, maybe when he was around six or so, we realized that he was above the 50% on the chart. Now, I don’t even look at their charts anymore. I let the doctors look at their charts.

I don’t know if the stress of all the testing and pressure exacerbated Cameron’s growth issues, but it sure did not help. And it was quite the coincidence that as soon as my husband and I stopped being upset by it, he started growing again.

Part of learning how to teach our kids is learning how to break away from the idea that we have to keep our kids in step with their peers (whatever that means anyway). If our kids do have physical and mental issues that need to be addressed, then yes, it’s important to address them. But by addressing them, what do we mean? Stressing out that they aren’t living up to other’s expectations because of their diagnosis? Or seeing when their limitations cause stress in their lives and then doing what we can to make things easier?

So that leads to my final question, that I think we should be asking ourselves every time we want to “fix” our kids, or fix other people in general – does correcting them actually enhance their lives *right now*? If the answer is yes, how exactly does it make their right now better for us to point out their weaknesses, even if their weaknesses are caused by a diagnosed condition?

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2 Responses to “Dyslexia”

  1. Laura in CA :) Says:

    Interesting fact about NASA!! 🙂

    Our dd, almost 12, has Dyslexia and I disagree with the assessment that it only exists in school.

    I think Dyslexia is more of a problem in school because they want everyone in lock-step, but, it is a real problem in and out of school. At least at home it doesn’t have to be a defining issue for a child and they can branch out into other interests until the reading catches up.

    We would be defined as ‘schoolish’ these days, but it actually was apparent when we were more relaxed. (We are relaxed schooly types!)

    We had her tested at 9, when she was having such a struggle to remember anything having to do with sounds in words yet wanting to read _so_ badly. The desire was there but the ability was not and she was already starting to think she was dumb as her 5 yo cousin was reading quite well.

    I think it is very real and having a name for it actually is comforting to her. She knows that she isn’t dumb and is actually quite bright. We explain it this way…everyone has their own problems and hers is Dyslexia. That little niece I mentioned has hers…she’s a real brat and I actually feel worse for her than my dd.

    We play to my dd’s strengths….she’s very musically talented, she is very athletic, she is a creative problem solver and is quite intuitive.

    Our dd is reading these days and she still has all those other great characteristics of Dyslexia….I think she scored!! 🙂

  2. Cheryl Says:

    It is very short-sighted to say that dyslexia is the result of the schools pressuring the children. How does that explain the fMRIs being done which clearly show that a dyslexic’s brain functions differently? In addition, how do you explain the thousands of dyslexics that are homeschooled and still exhibit reading problems?
    If you truly want to know more about dyslexia, I recommend the book ‘Overcoming Dyslexia’ by Sally Shaywitz.


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