More Myths of Dyslexia…

As you might imagine, we speak with scores of parents, teachers and other clinicians. We are heartbreakingly familiar with the challenges of parents to find first a diagnosis and then the right treatment for their child who struggles to read, write or spell. As if it weren’t hard enough for parents to 1) cope with their struggling child and 2) find appropriate help for their child, we frequently see that parents are also coping with myths and prejudices about dyslexia. Here are a few poignant examples.

  • “Dyslexia is a bad word.” Many parents are reluctant to view their kids as dyslexic. In part, this is because of the enormous amount of misinformation that circulates about dyslexia. Many parents have previously tried to find support for their struggling readers, writers or spellers in the public school system, but public schools are not equipped to diagnose or treat dyslexia. At the same time, health insurance does not cover dyslexia testing or treatment. Parents who have been shuffled around the system looking for answers often feel that they must do anything to avoid the D word.
  • “My child is not dyslexic.” Some parents tell us that their child cannot be dyslexic because he or she does not “flip letters.” Some parents tell us that their child is “too smart” to be dyslexic. Many parents know their child is not dyslexic, but merely has some trouble with reading comprehension, text reading, writing and/or spelling. In reality, dyslexic children may have many or few variable symptoms, are often extremely bright, and it’s usually the discrepancy between their intelligence and their struggles with reading, writing and spelling that calls notice to their problem.
  • “My child was already tested.” Children get a battery of tests in school and from their pediatricians. While these routine tests may identify or rule out other conditions, they are not the same as the individualized professional evaluation required to diagnose dyslexia. Parents, and even some educators, may not realize how important an evaluation is. It’s critical to know how to treat the struggling reader; if we don’t know what’s broken, how can we fix it? A comprehensive evaluation includes a detailed written report with a diagnosis, intervention plan and documentation. The people who are qualified to test for and diagnose dyslexia are certain trained psychologists, speech-language pathologists and clinical educators. Read more about diagnosing dyslexia here.
  • “My child was treated and it didn’t work.” The other heartbreaking part of the story is that there are many so-called experts claiming to have cures for dyslexia – everything from eye exercises to specially designed typography. Dyslexia is not a vision problem! (Read more on this subject here.) We don’t blame parents for wanting a ‘quick fix’ for their child’s reading, writing and spelling problems, but research demonstrates that it is individualized treatment, such as that provided through the Orton-Gillingham approach, and consistent practice that yield results.

When they are evaluated and get appropriate professional intervention and consistent practice, children with dyslexia can overcome their reading, writing and spelling challenges and keep up with their school work and their peers.

I’ll have more soon on the roadblocks faced by families of struggling readers, but meanwhile, for more information on evaluation and treatment, see our For Parents page, send me a note at AskSandie@Lexercise.com or call 1-919-747-4557.

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.