A letter to kids and parents
Dyslexic kids aren't dumb - in fact most dyslexic kids are clever.
(That doesn't mean that if you're dyslexic you're a genius. but it does mean that you're probably cleverer than you would be if you weren't dyslexic).
Saying 'I'm dyslexic' is a bit like saying 'my thumb hurts.' Thumbs can hurt for many reasons. maybe you bashed it with a hammer. Maybe you accidentally stuck it with a pin. Maybe a small Tyrannosaurus jumped out from behind a rock and decided your thumb was dinner...
I you want your thumb to stop hurting you need to find out WHY it hurts- and then do something about it (like give the Tyrannosaurus a can of dog food to eat instead).
I find it hard to focus on letters and numbers. But I don't want to be 'cured' because my way of reading means I read and write faster than anyone I know - though someone still has to correct my spelling for me.
Sometimes kids have problems reading because they can't hear the way words are pronounced clearly.
Sometimes their eyes don't work together very well.
Some kids need to learn to concentrate (people have to learn to concentrate, just like we have to learn to swim)
There are a thousand reasons why a kid may find it hard to learn to read. 'Dyslexic' is just a useful word that covers them all.
How do you know if you are dyslexic?
If you find reading and numbers so hard you feel like crying sometimes, you may be dyslexic. Reading is fun. Most adults read stuff because they enjoy it. if reading isn't fun, then there's a problem.
If your friends find reading easier than you do, it's also a sign that you might be dyslexic. If one of your friends finds reading or numbers harder than you do, they might be dyslexic too, but too embarrassed to ask for help.
I wish I could say that every adult, or even every teacher, will know how to help you if you say ' I think I am dyslexic.' Lots of adults -- even many teachers -- don't really know what 'dyslexic' means. But there ARE people who can help- and you need to keep asking till you find someone.
I wish I could say 'as soon as they find out you're dyslexic you'll learn to read.' Sometimes it IS really simple, and in a few weeks all your problems are over. Other times it can take a couple of years of hard work. It's like the sore thumb again. if you've just pricked it with a pin it'll get better soon, but if it's been bitten by a Tyrannosaurus it's not going to be easy.
But I can promise this:
There ARE people who will help you learn to read.
You are NOT dumb.
One day you WILL find that you can read and write as easily as you can walk.
Reading and writing are the best inventions ever- and one day you'll find out why.
It 's be harder for us dyslexics to get going on the reading road. But once we're rolling, you can't stop us.
If you think that you may be dyslexic and need some help, there are some brilliant services that can help you, including:
The DSF Literacy and Clinical Service (The Dyslexia- SPELD Foundation of WA)