Stop Using Dyslexia As A Crutch

“Hopefully your son will stop using dyslexia as a crutch and just learn to read.” 

Have you heard comments like this before? They sting. Coming from a casual acquaintance, you could shrug them off. But what if a close relative said this to you? How would you respond?

As a parent, you want to protect your child and make his way as smooth as possible. You see the daily challenges of dyslexia – the difficulty with homework, trouble spelling, problems with reading. You invest tremendous time, energy, and finances into private tutoring and special education meetings. You read books, participate in blog forums, and seek out as much information as you can find about dyslexia. You understand that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of, so you work to help your child understand this brain difference. It’s not an easy road for you or your child.

When you hear comments like this, you may feel a bit judged in your parenting skills. If you were a better parent, your child would have a better work ethic. He’d try harder. He’d stop making excuses. Then he’d learn to read.

If you have a child with dyslexia, you KNOW learning to read isn’t a matter of working hard. Your child already works harder than his peers. He spends more time on homework than his classmates. He studies twice as hard for tests. His grades don’t reflect the effort he puts in.

Hopefully, you will never hear a comment that your child is lazy, or just needs to work harder, or he’s using dyslexia as a crutch. But the reality is that dyslexia is still misunderstood, and someone may say something hurtful to you. The majority of Americans do not understand it, and that includes teachers and school administrators, unfortunately. Be prepared for that conversation by learning as much about dyslexia as you can.

If that conversation does occur, try to frame it positively. You could say, “I used to think that, too, about dyslexia. After so-and-so was diagnosed, I did a lot of research, and I was surprised by some of the things I learned. May I share some of these things with you?” This gentle response will carry the conversation much further than anger or an argument ever could.

Here are some resources to get you started in learning about dyslexia:

  • Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity – Dyslexia has been scientifically studied for years by Dr. Sally Shaywitz and her team. This website presents facts and research in an easy to understand manner. Check out their talking points about dyslexia.
  • Read or listen to Dr. Sally Shaywitz’s book, Overcoming Dyslexia. Based on her research, Dr. Shaywitz clearly explains what dyslexia is and how to help.
  • Bright Solutions for Dyslexia – Created by Susan Barton, the developer of the Barton Reading & Spelling System, this website contains videos on all things dyslexia. Susan Barton gives tips on how to talk with teachers, shares what won’t work for dyslexia, and she exposes common myths.

What resources have been helpful for you in learning about dyslexia? How have you approached difficult conversations about dyslexia? Leave a comment below!