As parents of a child or children with dyslexia, we can get a little stuck trying to "fix" the challenges our children face or what we think they will face. We as parents always want to protect our kids as much as possible, but it's easy to end up concentrating too much on the negative. As my daughter starts her Senior year in high school, I can't believe how fast time has gone and how much she has accomplished and how so many of my fears never happened. Yes, there were some trying moments but the journey from second grade to now has been surprising in a lot of positive ways. Mom's fear: Foreign Language requirement in high school. My daughter did take a foreign language but didn't stop at two years she took four years. Mom's fear: English class and essay writing. My daughter is taking her second AP English class, and she continues to amaze me in what she can accomplish inside and outside of school.
So, with the start of school starting in Tennessee in a few weeks, this is my perspective from a few steps ahead.
I know you are staring down what looks to be an impossibly steep learning curve. I know it looks like an immovable mountain. It is not. I know you don’t believe me, but step by step you will climb until suddenly, without warning, you will look down. You will see how far you’ve come. I promise. You might even be able to take in the view. I have been taking in the view for a few years now. I have also watched some of my students who I tutor soar as well. The view is amazing when you look at where they started. The options are endless if you continue to believe in hope.
Most likely you will doubt yourself. You won’t trust your instincts right away at least I know I didn't. You will be afraid that you don’t have the capacity to be or do what your child will need. But you do know. You are much stronger than you think you are. Trust me. I know you. Hell, I am you. I have cried myself to sleep many nights and shared tears with parents and students. You got this.
You will find people in your life who get it and some that don’t. You’ll find some that want to get it and some that never will. You’ll find a closeness with people you never thought you had anything in common with. You’ll find comfort and relief with friends who speak your new language. Choose your circle wisely.
You will learn to ask for help. You’ll have to. It won’t be easy. You’ll forget sometimes. Life will remind you. You will read more than you can process. You’ll buy books that you can’t handle reading. You’ll feel guilty that they’re sitting by the side of the bed unopened. Take small steps. The information isn’t going anywhere. Breathe. I still have stacks of books that I want to read, and I will get to them. Be a life long learner, and you can get through it. Your child will guide you along the way.
You will blame yourself. You’ll think you missed signs you should have seen. You’ll be convinced that you should have known or that you should have somehow gotten help earlier. You couldn’t have known. Don’t let yourself live there for long for it does no good for you or your child.
You will question your faith. Or find it. Maybe both.
You will never, ever take progress for granted. Every reading, writing and spelling milestone met, no matter the size or the timing, will be cause for celebration. Every baby step will be a quantum leap. You will find the people who understand that. You will revel in their support and love and shared the excitement.
You will encounter people who care for your child in ways that restore your faith in humanity. You will cherish the teachers and tutors who see past your child’s challenges and who truly understand their strengths. They will feel like family.
You will examine and re-examine every one of your own insecurities. You will recognize some of your child’s challenges as your own. You will get to know yourself as you get to know your child. You will look to the tools you have used to mitigate your own challenges. You will share them. You will both be better for it.
You will come to understand that there are gifts in all of this. I’m not saying that dyslexia in itself is a but many people find the gifts along the journey. Tolerance, resilience, grit, work ethics, feeling a failure and getting back up and trying again, compassion, understanding. Precious, life altering gifts.
You will speak hesitantly at first, but you’ll find your voice. You will come to see that no one knows your child better than you do. You will respectfully listen to the experts in the field. You will value their experience and their knowledge. But you will ultimately remember that while they are the experts in science, you are the expert in your child. With time, you will become the real expert.
You will help your child be far better than OK. You will show them, love. They will believe in themselves as you believe in them. They will astound you, over and over again. They will teach you far more than you teach them. They will fly. After all, they haven't changed from day one. Just your understanding of who they are is all that has changed.
The first picture of my daughter is one of my favorites because it shows one of her many gifts. She loves animals and is fantastic with all types of animals. She is picking a field that is geared to her strength. She is looking into colleges that offer zoology. I know she will rock it and be successful.
It will be okay. Hope everyone has a fantastic school year. If you need my help, I'm always willing to help.
A mom who is a few steps ahead.