Our Dyslexia Story

I have a 10 year old son with dyslexia who will start 5th grade this fall. He was diagnosed at the start of 3rd grade. As a parent, I had suspicions of dyslexia beginning as early as 1st grade. His writing was very choppy with multiple misspelled words.  The letters “d”, “b”, and “z” were written backwards quite often. Reading was long, very labored and avoided at all costs.  He also had issues with left/right confusion and poor motor skills.  When I expressed my concerns about these red flags, the teacher told me not to worry. She said the school district does not get concerned until 3rd grade when it comes to dyslexia signs. I wish I had the same knowledge then as I do now. I would have asked the school district to test my son in 1st grade. If I had, he would not have struggled as much and his attitude about school could have been greatly improved.

By the beginning of 3rd grade, I just knew he needed some extra support and wanted him diagnosed. I wrote an email to the principal at the school and requested him to be tested. At this point, the school tested him with several different tests to measure his overall IQ vs his reading, math, and other skills. I was extremely nervous to receive the results of these tests. Part of me wanted him to be diagnosed with a learning disability so he could get the help he needed. The other part of me was dreading the finality of the diagnosis “learning disability”. My suspicions were correct, his reading score was much lower than his IQ score. This labeled him as having a learning disability and qualified him for extra services through the school district (IEP).

I immersed myself into all the information about dyslexia as I could. The more I read about this learning disability, the more I realized what a special son I have. He is extremely smart. His brain processes information a little differently than the rest of us. Different is good! Different is what breeds new ideas. Different is a gift. The school started giving him extra help but none that addresses the dyslexia directly. I decided to start sending him to a tutor who has knowledge in the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching phonics and reading. I contacted the Nebraska Dyslexic Association for a tutor recommendation. My son has made great strides and is now reading at grade level. He still is not on grade level in writing and spelling, but he will get there. With all the technology available today such as spell check and speech to text dictation, I know these struggles will not hold him back. I encourage all parents to listen to their gut. Push for your child to be tested early if he or she shows signs. The earlier the intervention the better. Don't forget: Different is good! Different is what breeds new ideas. Different is a gift.
-D. Henkel