23 things parents of dyslexia want you to know By Melissa McGlensey

By Melissa McGlensey
Somewhere between 5 to 17 percent of school-age children in the U.S. are affected by dyslexia, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. For dyslexic kids, reading, writing and spelling can be some of the most challenging activities — and ones they’re required to do nearly every day.
Despite dyslexia’s relative prevalence, misconceptions still surround it; and parents, as their children’s advocates, often find themselves struggling to make others understand what their kids need.
So The Mighty teamed up with Learning Ally, a nonprofit that provides support and technology for students with learning and visual disabilities, to ask the parents what they wish others could understand about their child’s experience with dyslexia.
This is what they had to say:
1. “It doesn’t just affect school. It takes a toll on their social life too.” — Robin Anderson Reed

2. “Accommodations provide access and help to level the playing field.” — Kathy Stratton
3. “Would you deny a child that can’t walk a wheelchair? Deny a child that can’t see properly glasses? Then why on earth do we deny those with dyslexia what they need in the classroom? Put ‘glasses’ on these kids and they will soar! Not every person learns the same way.” — Sheila Ridgley Riche

4. “The shame that accompanies dyslexia can be paralyzing. There is anxiety that ensues as a result of never quite knowing when dyslexia will rear its ugly head.” — Cali Nichols

5. “Print and handwriting should not limit a person from participating in anything they want. Accommodations matter.” — Jennifer Fitzer
6. “If a child is dyslexic it doesn’t mean the parent didn’t read to them enough or try hard enough.” — Marilyn Montrose

7. “[It takes so] much time, patience and hard work for children to get through school.” — Jeannie Klotz VanMatre
8. “While there are challenges to being dyslexic, there are also enormous strengths.” — Lisa Maska

9. “There is no ‘cure’ for dyslexia.” — Tracy Schlaepfer O’Day
10. “There is nothing wrong with a dyslexic individual; what’s broken is the rigid system we stick them into that is not willing to teach them in the ways they learn best!” — Sheri Smith

11. “I want the world to know my kids are strong. They struggle bravely and fight hard. They never give up, even when their environment is tearing at them every step of the way. Without the struggle, the joys wouldn’t be so euphoric. When my kids laugh, when they celebrate, it is all heart.” — Phoebe N Burt Beacham
12. “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that it’s not a true disability.” — Jenifer Kasten

13. “I want people to care about children with dyslexia and to quit pretending they know what it is. Dyslexia is a spectrum disorder and presents differently in each person. Understand the child as well as the characteristics.” — Sue Sullivan Grzybowski14. “It’s humiliating for a child or an adult to not be able to read. How a teacher handles this situation will carry through an entire lifetime. The refusal to help and then applying labels or characterization (“lazy,” “doesn’t work hard”) is simply cruel and destructive. People who are dyslexic and encouraged to be their best tend to be incredibly creative, as they have to figure out how to forge forward.” — Claudia Crowley-Miller

15. “It isn’t the same for everyone, even for different kids in the same house. But that doesn’t make the situation any less real. We, as parents, have to fight the school system just to get the basics.” — Jennifer Newton

16. “I wish people understood that dyslexia does not just affect school. Dyslexia causes social anxiety because of our misappropriated view of intelligence. My son told me he hates walking into a room and ‘knowing he is the dumbest person there.’ He bases this on the belief that reading and spelling determine intelligence. My son is so much more than a misspelled word, a multiplication fact he can’t memorize or a story that’s hard to comprehend. He is a fantastic runner, photographer, wrestler, soccer player and can code without formal training. He loves to help people and is great with younger children. We need to redefine the word intelligence for our dyslexic kids.” — Barb Barker

17. “It’s not ‘one size fits all.’ Don’t put the person in a box. Dyslexia is as unique as the human finger print.” — Susan Burns

18. “Very few people seem to understand that it can be really hard work to just be at school every day. Just being present enough to sit still, to write your name on the papers, to eat for only 30 minutes and to behave can be exhausting in itself! Add to that the difficulty of reading, following directions and extreme written/typed processing issues and it is utterly exhausting for my son to be at school. I greatly admire how he has learned to cope but it makes me sad that so much of his time is really difficult work.” — Shannon Pedigo Efteland
19. “The only academic bragging right that kids have in the early grades is reading. If reading isn’t your gift you’ve lost (in this system) before you even get started.” — Heather McAdams Phillips

20. “Every time we learn something, be it song lyrics, dance steps, how to cook, etc., it can be a different (and perhaps slower) process for a dyslexic.” — Elizabeth Isabella
21. “It is so heartbreaking to see him work so hard to do what most of his peers can do so easily — read and write. I know how amazing, bright and creative he is… If only he could truly see how incredibly brave he really is to keep fighting this battle of learning to read and write in school.” — Lisa Workman

22. “Half the battle (or more!) with any learning difference is the social and emotional side of it — feeling stupid or lazy, feeling alone, feeling frustrated or angry, trying your hardest but still coming up short. Yes, the actual difficulties with learning and attention affect us a lot, but the negative messages we receive from ourselves and others can have an even more staggering effect on us.” — Kristen Anderson DeBeer

23. “If you are judging someone based on written spelling and grammar, you could be missing out on an amazing person.” — Julya RJ