As the parent of 5 dyslexic children the first time I heard about dyslexia I thought I'd been thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool and didn't know how to swim. There was no information for as a parent on how to help my child. So when I found out about the Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) I had somewhere to ask for help. Their parent liaison officer was full of practical information on how to help my child and she explained what dyslexia was. She attended a meeting of the DAI's local workshop and Branch to give advice to parents. (See their website for where their local branches and workshops are). So how can I help my child? This requires a rather large answer so I feel I need to answer it over a number of weeks. It's a lot of information to take in at once so please copy this blog post and the others in the series so you can go back to it at any time. Don't forget to post comments or questions below or on my twitter or Facebook pages.
How to help.
- Be consistent in your parenting first and foremost. You don't need to treat them differently than your other children.
- Stop Feeling Guilty, it's not the end of yours or your child's life. You didn't do anything wrong nor did your child.
- Yes, you will grieve it's a normal part of this. So seek advice or help if needed.
- Your child will live with this for the rest of their lives. It's not a disease so it's not curable! Don't buy into the fads!
- Find out what dyslexia is. See www.dyslexia.ie
- Find out what it means for your child - as it's on a spectrum. Don't get bogged down in their report just concentrate on the summary.
- Find out your child's right and entitlements with regard to their disability remember it's covered by disability legislation. Make a note of these and know them.
- Ask for help for you and your child. See if there is a support group on social media or in person in your locality. Talking to other parents is key for you. Meeting others with dyslexia is also vital for your child's self-esteem.
- Speak to the school, make an appointment to see their teacher if they have only one if not ask to speak to the Year Head. Take someone with you who can take notes or ask questions. Make sure you have a list of questions written down you may want to ask.
- Bring a copy of your child's report to the meeting, if they are already having resource hours try to see both teachers at the same time. If the school got the educational assessment done then ask for a copy of the report you are entitled to one.
- Ask their teacher(s) if they understand what dyslexia is, don't assume they know. Be able to explain what it means for your child and how they can help them. I'm not trying to scaremonger here, it's just not every teacher knows about hidden disabilities It is getting better.
- It's your job to help build your child's self-esteem, so make home a safe place. Don't focus too much on the negative but always emphasize the positive skills and attributes they have.
- Keep a copy of your child's reports, language exemptions in a safe place. You need them in the future. I'll cover this in a later post.
- Ask the teacher to give your child notes on the subject being taught so they can concentrate on what is being said not taking notes. The secondary & Third level in particular.
- Ask if they can use a laptop to complete homework or assignments.
- Ask if your child can have help from a peer to copy down homework from the blackboard or better yet can the teacher give them the homework in a form of a note.
- Distractions should be banned from homework area. Easier said than done I know.
- A good designated study space for your children is great and always helps any child.
- A multisensory approach to organisation is great. So colour code books, copy books, folders etc., per subject - a bit hard at the start of the year but once set up works well.
- Colour code the timetable to match also is a brilliant help!
- Use colour for note taking or key points - so markers, pencils, index cards etc.
- Learn to Mind Map - I already wrote a blog post on this so check it out.
- Calendars are also great mark off all important dates at the beginning of the year so they can see it. Give each child their own calendar is helpful. I always gave mine their own calendar for their rooms each Christmas.
I will post more about helping your child next week as this topic is so extensive. Remember this is a lot of information to take in so read this a few times, make notes for yourself and keep a copy of it handy. I always found it useful to keep notes together in one folder about dyslexia so I could refer back over the years.
Don't forget to seek help for you and your child. It takes courage to ask for help.
If anyone needs advice or help please call our office on 0894373641 or email us at DeborahByrne48@gmail.com