Focus on Dyslexia

Everything here is written from the experience of parents of Dyslexic children, and of Dyslexic people themselves. The aim is to provide information which will broaden the reader's understanding of Dyslexia.

The Beginning

Our family’s story had a definite beginning, a time when we  knew that we had a problem which needed our attention.  Our five year old son had begun to show signs of severe stress.  This story is about the point when we managed to tie all the loose ends together,  to find out what was the cause of the stress. 

James had been at school about six months, and things were not going very well.  One Tuesday he  suddenly arrived back downstairs at about 11pm, he couldn't sleep.  I looked up from changing the baby's nappy, to find him standing there with an arm full of boxes.  Each one was an educational game. 

“Teach me how to read Mummy?” 

“You are learning how to read everyday, Love, It takes time.  You've plenty of time, you're only five” 

“But teach me how to read NOW !  Look Mummy we can play this game can't we, this will teach me how to read.  Please Mummy, teach me how to read!” 

I carried on changing the baby's nappy, James was very upset.  Before I could work out  how to explain that reading was like a journey, and he was only just setting out at the moment, he had changed direction slightly. 

“Mummy, Why can't I do sums?” 

"But of course you can do sums Jamie!  If you have 2 apples and I give you 1 more, how many apples do you have?" 

"3.  But that's not a sum, why can't I do sums like the other children?" 

"Maybe you should go to bed now?  We can talk about this in the morning." 

"Mummy look we can play this game, please Mummy, P-L-E-A-S-E?" 

He started unpacking the box.  I started packing it up again.  I desperately hated that game.  He'd often got it out in the past year and subjected both himself, and me, to seemingly endless frustration.    Because although he could do the, very easy, sums well enough, he couldn't read the numbers.  If he wanted 2, he picked up the 5 tile, for 3 it was always the 8, for 4 it was the 7, and 6 it was the 9 (and of course visa-versa).  You would think that, taking the laws of probability into account, he would get it right SOMETIMES!  He is not a child who copes well with being frustrated.  Now at 5 years old, he had just about worked it out, but just the sight of the game would still make me panic. 

I diverted his attention: 

"Look here's a sum, (I wrote 1+1= on a piece of paper)" 

He looked at it and panicked a lot. I explained that + was a 'plus' sign, = meant 'equals' and in the end he did it fine.  I don't remember much else about that night, except that it became clear from what followed that he couldn't 'read' sums very well, and he wrote them down in a muddled way.  That he felt that he couldn't do them at all, and that he was getting by in class by copying (although we never quite worked out how). 

He went to bed about an hour later, still panicking, because he couldn't do the work at school.  I was horrified about the thought of a five year old worrying like this, because he wasn't managing to cope with his school work.  "Dyslexia" sort of flashed through my brain - not that I had any idea what that was.  I had never been able to work out (from the little I knew) what the big deal was.  What was different for a  Dyslexic person anyway? 

When I got up in the morning, I collected all the dreaded educational games together and hid them away in a cupboard.  They were never my idea.  They could come out again when he could do them!......................

That was three and a half years ago and marked the point when our journey began. 

question But hold on a minute he was only FIVE.  Maybe he was just going to be a late reader? Don't you know that children learn to read anywhere between the ages of three and ten?  So why start panicking when he was five?

At the time it wasn't the lack of reading which worried me - It was the other things.  The migraines every Saturday; the tantrums; feeling sick with stomach ache before school; the total confusion about the passage of time; walking home from school each evening crying and whining...... and lots of other things that I'm not willing to go into here. This was just the first time that I associated it with him finding learning, and school, difficult.

question So why think about Dyslexia?

I had no idea why at the time.  It took us about another 6 months of research and observation before we actually put the thought into words.  There are enough people within our family with Dyslexia type difficulties to consider it to be a possibility. The reason that I had never fully understood about Dyslexia was because I was surrounded by it - to me it was *normal* to be Dyslexic. 

Some web sites where you can find more detailed information about Dyslexia are:

International Dyslexia