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Dyslexia Awareness Month: How to Encourage your Student with Dyslexia

by Jessica Parnell | Oct 28, 2016 | 3 min read

Reading should be fun and engaging, opening worlds of learning and imagination for our children. But, for some of us reading is more challenging than others. For dyslexics, reading is one of the most difficult challenges they will ever face. October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the truths and myths surrounding dyslexia. The truth is dyslexia is a learning challenge, but it doesn’t mean that dyslexics aren’t smart! Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re homeschooling a child with dyslexia, or have dyslexia yourself, take heart! Because it’s Dyslexia Awareness Month, we want to highlight the benefits and strengths of dyslexia to provide help and hope to those struggling.

Myths Surrounding Dyslexia

Perhaps the best thing you can do for Dyslexia Awareness Month is to understand what it is, and what it is not. Dyslexia is defined as a learning disability that primarily impacts the skills involved in reading fluency and spelling accuracy. Those with dyslexia will struggle mainly in the area of reading, and studies have shown that these same students are very intelligent.

We often think of letter reversal when we hear the term “dyslexia.” Dyslexics will struggle to make sense of what they are seeing in printed form and express themselves through writing and often reverse letters. Does this mean that your dyslexic child will never read? Absolutely not, but it will take more effort and focus than for students who do not have this learning disability. And, if your child reverses letters is he dyslexic? Not necessarily. The myth that letter reversal means dyslexia isn’t true. Rather, letter reversal is a common trait among emerging readers.

Perhaps the biggest myth is that dyslexics are unintelligent and lazy. Dyslexia is a learning disability that creates reading challenges, but that doesn’t mean that dyslexic learners can’t learn or are not intelligent. Dyslexia occurs at every level of intelligence and impacts boys and girls equally. A large proportion of fortune 500 business CEOs struggled with dyslexia. However, their creative thinking, determination, and high intelligence resulted in overcoming their learning struggles to become successful businessmen and women. Albert Einstein was dyslexic; so, consider your student (or yourself!) in great company!

Benefits of Dyslexia

While dyslexia is a challenge, it’s not a disaster! Studies have shown that there are many benefits to having dyslexia. If you’re looking to encourage your student with dyslexia, or yourself, remembering the strengths is a great place to start.

Dyslexics are often more creative, expressive and imaginative. Because expressing themselves in writing is difficult, dyslexics often find communication and verbal articulation to be strengths. Many famous actors and artists have dyslexia including Picasso, Tom Cruise, and Kiera Knightly.

Dyslexics are out of the box thinkers and great experimenters. They are more special thinkers who excel at detail-oriented tasks. Some of the brightest scientists, surgeons, engineers, architects, and inventors have/had dyslexia including Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein!

Dyslexics develop determination and resiliency. Because reading and schoolwork tend to be more difficult, students with dyslexia often develop stronger character and determination than their peers. If you have kids with dyslexia, chances are they will be able to overcome struggles and reach goals later in life because of the challenges they are facing now.

Dyslexics often have a great memory and learn well from experiences, known as narrative reasoning. They are strongly tied to facts and memories that are associated with meaningful experiences. This gives dyslexics a great ability to story-tell and relate new concepts to what is known and familiar.

Dyslexics often see the big picture. The great news is that the mind of a dyslexic is wired to see the forest for the trees. Focusing on the big picture enables students with dyslexia to see holistically and think analytically. Some of the best thinkers, theologians, and mathematicians who create new thought and ideas that impact generations are dyslexic!

If your home is struggling with dyslexia, be encouraged! The future looks bright because dyslexics are not disabled, but rather have different abilities that will serve them well in the future. Focus your attention on building strengths and encouraging persistence and you’ll find that dyslexia will soon be seen as an ability and asset, something that enables success!
How have you encountered the benefits of dyslexia? Tell us during Dyslexia Awareness Month and help us to educate the world!

Jessica Parnell
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Parnell — mom, homeschool evaluator, teacher, and CEO of Bridgeway Academy. In my 20+ years of experience as a homeschool mom and evaluator, I have had the privilege of meeting homeschoolers that take a variety of approaches to their education. It is their many stories and successes that inspire me in my own homeschooling and I love to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from them to other homeschooling families. The one constant that always remains true is that there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter child.” Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and as a result, learns and functions differently. It’s our job to ensure that we’re raising each child to fulfill their individual purpose and when we can teach in a way that inspires them, we are on our way to homeschool success. When I’m not writing or teaching my children, I like to ski, write and participate in triathlons. I graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in English and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroleadership.
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