What has been the key to your dyslexic DC succeeding at school?(18 Posts)
I am very inspired by dyslexic kids who I read about on here who have overcome their difficulties and done well at school. I imagine that they can only have mild/moderate dyslexia and that they are also fairly bright.
In the end, does it all come down to their personal determination? Technology? Teaching? Anything else?
My DS has decided to deal with his dyslexia by ignoring it.
My DD had early intervention from a behavioural optometrist, dyslexia specialist teachers and her own determination. She's only 11 but is very bright and sees dyslexia as a minor inconvenience in some areas but appreciates that a 'differently' wired brain makes her special. I have two friends who are dyslexic adults. Neither was diagnosed as children. Both were considered thick at school. One is a consultant doctor and the other has done extremely well in advertising. Neither has ever read a novel.
2 DCs, both bright dyslexics. DD was not diagnosed until she was 15 & so her confidence had nosedived. She scrapped through her GCSEs, attempted 6th form three times & has had two basic wage jobs since leaving college last summer. She's suffering with depression but is trying her hardest to cope. DS was 12 on official diagnosis, however school had been treating him as if he had dyslexia for some months previously. He had excellent support throughout his compulsary education years which DD did not have. DD had fantastic help at 6th form, but I think the previous years of demoralisation made it impossible for her to cope. DS gained A*-B grades at GCSE & is aiming for A grades at AS level this year which he has the ability to achieve. He's very aspirational anyway so I guess that's important.
Both DCs have severe memory & processing issues & are entitled to have extra time in exams. Both also have coloured lenses which help them to read more clearly than 'normal' glasses would. You'd need to see a specialist optician to be tested for these. Now dyslexic DH has coloured lenses, he can see (Exscuse the pun) how fantastic they are.
DD views her dyslexia as a burden, she can't see how musically gifted she is! Very frustrating. DS views his dyslexia as an inconvenience that he deals with admirably. So I guess it's fair to say it depends on the child, their personality & the support given by family & school. I'm sure others will have their own opinions, but there's mine
As a dyslexic who has succeeded to get into and then complete one of thoughest degrees in the UK the key is that you have to learn how to work with the dyslexia.
Memory processing issues mean that my short term memory is to be quite frank pants. However, my long term memory is phenomenal and you have to work consistently all year to commit all the work to this type of memory. Once is it this memory it is retained for a very long time I can still remember the finer details of developmental neuroanatomy 20 years later.
For me I still have spend hours each week consistently studying new topics I have to use a wide variety of learning techniques to help with this.
I do surgery in my job muscle memory is also very useful here as sometimes your hands can do it even though the brain can't.
Everyday mundane stuff is my hardest challenge I am a list maker and Siri on my iPhone is my best friend.
One of the keys is not expect anything from your average school whether state or independent especially if your DC is performing just above average and/or attaining the obligatory 5 GCSE's in the core subjects even if its a grade C (although some will come with exceptions to this rule) but try and provide help out of school whether yourself or employ a dyslexic friendly tutor(s). Dyslexics often have a low self esteem (unsurprisingly) I and others have tried to address this issue with no success leaving me wondering if it is possible improve my dyslexic DS's self esteem.
The first thing to bear in mind that dyslexia cannot be overcome; but if you are determined enough and have aptitude in certain areas you can certainly devise strategies to deal with it.
I have a dyslexic DD who is 13 and in year 9 at a comprehensive school who has been in the top class (of 9) since starting there. I would tend to agree with happygardening that self esteem is extremely difficult to address. DD is obviously as intelligent as her classmates but will do less well academically in most subjects at GCSE.
In general I would say to see what your child's strengths are and play to them. DD is very good at art and while I think she would have been an equally talented engineer (she can see in "3d"), I reluctantly now accept that she has lost confidence in her academic ability.
DD's school has a fantastic Sen dept, however some individual teachers have been less than helpful. While maths was her stronger subject on starting secondary, now it is English due to a fantastic talented supportive teacher and mediocre maths teachers.
Technology can help a bit - word processing is obviously easier than writing longhand but draws the attention of everyone else in the class!
I have also let the school put her through the trauma of an early MFL GCSE in year 9 - while with her private tutor's help she may scrape a B, her less hard working but equally intelligent classmates will walk away with A*s. She spends 90% of her time on the language to the detriment of her other subjects.
I have a step brother who is dyslexic who has a doctorate and a great job but who has never read a novel. He was lucky he was identified as very able in maths at a young age.
I often worry that DD is fairly culturally illiterate. She just cannot pick up the information that most people do from the media around them. She loves the theatre and opera (and has been lucky enough to perform in professional productions) but hates museums and (ironically) art galleries. She is quite musical but plays or sings from memory as she cannot sight read.
My elder DD is very academic and good at everything which is a hard act to live up to. My view for a long time was to be absolutely determined that DD2 would not let dyslexia stop her and do as well as her sister.
I have now said to her that grades at GCSE don't matter as long as she gets C or above, as that is all she needs for the art course she will probably end up doing. I do actually think that DD will be very successful at whatever she ends up doing because she is naturally talented and has a very attractive personality that people in general warm to.
Thanks for all these great replies - they are all so interesting. Muminwestlondon How has your DD managed to do so well in English? How has the support teacher helped so much? English is DS's best and worst subject. He really struggles with all the dyslexic stuff (planning, organisation, spelling, punctuation, capital letters, proofreading) but his content is good and can sometimes be very good. He can use a laptop but the problems remain. I guess your DD must have worked really hard at her MFL - I am thinking that DS will have to give it up - his pronunciation is good but his spelling is not. Like your DD, I have similar feelings about DS being successful - he is very outgoing and could at the very least be an incredible salesman or conman.
I think the key to self esteem issues is to encourage what they are really good at and give them a chance to shine. DS doesn't on the surface appear to suffer from low self esteem but I suspect it's buried somewhere, hence him ignoring the dyslexia rather than trying and tackle it - he knows that he is bright but comments that it's unfair how less intelligent kids get better grades and levels.
My expectations of secondary school are not high but they are much better than junior school. He is doing really well at Science and they have recently suggested using a scribe. He recently brought home some test papers and there, next to his illegible scribbles was the handwriting of someone else and yes, DS's knowledge shone through - perhaps this will be the key and the road we need to go down for his GCSEs.
I have also met several successful adults with dyslexia who were considered thick at school but have since gone on to do well. There must be kids like this in every school in the country.
Niceweather, her English teacher is a young Oxbridge graduate and is an absolutely inspiring teacher. She covers all sorts of topics in English and seems to spend a lot of time getting the class to discuss current issues, motivation of characters, effect of writing styles etc in a way they understand and find interesting, I think she is a really gifted teacher. She told DD that spelling is not that important but did insist that she punctuate properly. Generally she has the class doing really interesting stuff way beyond the national curriculum.
The SEN dept have been very helpful in fighting DD's corner and ensuring the teachers are aware, that she has use of a laptop and intervening with ignorant teachers where necessary. They have also provided her with extra science lessons and the use of a dyslexia programme outside of lessons.
She does not need support in lessons. My stepbrothers dyslexia was pretty severe and he even had to have his Ph.d transcribed, but I think science and maths ability are easier to recognise and hopefully your son's teachers will give him enough support to let his ability shine through.
Muminwestlondon Your daughter's teacher sounds incredible. How amazing to have a teacher like that.
I agree with you about the maths and science - there is no hiding the fact that my son is good at science as he gets the answers correct - they will be misspelt but they will be correct. His abilities in other lessons can be obscured by his writing problems but there is no denying his ability to talk very eloquently about any given subject. He is however going to need a lot of help getting this verbal ability to translate into the written word format.
You have to accept that it is part of them and they will never be cured.
Some clever dyslexics will do OK at school to start with but plataux (that must be wrong!) and that can really damage their self esteem.
Three of my DS are dyslexic and they are all summer born boys too and school did use that as an excuse for their slow progress in the begining. Don't be fobbed off in the early stages if you are worried push for an assesment. Be prepared to spend money yourself even if they are in a state school. This stage was along time ago for me so I have no idea about the process now. If they are very bright and not picking up reading they do need help.
For us dyslexia didn't come out of the blue. There is a history of boys who struggle to read in my immediate family. People never spoke about it before I asked when DS2 was about 7 and way behind at school. By then his confindence was rock bottom. He was the youngest in the year, teased and laughed at even by his nice little friends and bullied by those who were also struggling to read. That was strange looking back the worst bullies were the other boys in his little group that were taken out of the main class for extra support. This is another problem these lads were lumped together with the TA who had an impossible task really. Some were just nasty and disruptive and some weren't very bright........everyone who had any sort of problem. Class teacher seemed understanding but looking back just wanted rid of the more difficult DC so she could get on and teach. She was in some ways an excellent teacher but admitted she had no idea about dyslexic. Surely all teachers should have some idea of how to spot/deal with dyslexia. This is even more important for those teaching years 2 & 3 when it's really starting to 'show'
Thankfully in year 4 DS2 had a lovely teacher. It took her until the November for her to get her head around DS2 because he was v v shy, wrote next to nothing on a page, and tried to be invisible as much as possible. I kept going in (pushy, panicy, mother). She told me what a lovely, bright!, boy he was and said she had no idea how to help him. All the reading schemes had been tried etc. But it was her who suggested I contact The Dyslexia Institue for testing as it would take as long as 2 years to get him properley assessed through the school. This was nearly 20 years ago so maybe things have improved.
DS2 dyslexia was confirmed and he started weekly lessons which lasted until GCSEs and cost thousands of £. I'm sure this did help academically but more importantly it improved his self esteem. At about the same time we realised DS was showing signs of being better than average at sport. We focused in on this. He joined clubs and really did well and gained some 'street cred' with other boys and their parents. Other grown ups praising him was important especially when it was the mums and dads of those who were top academically.
He was still way behind in reading and spelling at 11 but was holding his own in maths and good at science and the practical side of the design/tech subjects. He made a few bits and pieces at school but did more with DH at home. He made bird boxes etc and helped him work on our two extentions.
Later he did get 6 A-C at GCSE. Good grades at maths and science. It's a shame he couldn't do PE!. He only got an E in english but he did manage 2 science A levels and an AS in electronics. His sport and a part time job which ment he had to deal with members of the public really boosted his confidence. He managed to get a place on an apprenticeship and hasn't looked back. He paid for driving lessons at 18 and saved so that he could get a mortgage at 23. He's now 27 and doing very well. I think financially he is better off than my elder DC who went to university. He is certainly a happy, confident, young man. He can read well enough and write reports for work. He can't spell well but lots can't!
I also have two other summer born dyslexic sons. They suffered less through school because as a family we were prepared and they were assessed at a younger age. They have both managed the magic grade C in english and did/are doing maths and science Alevels. One chose the apprentice route like DS2 and the other who is very bright is thinking of going to university.
This thread has probably moved on because I am very slow. Sorry if it's a load of waffle that doesn't make sense and doesn't answer OP.
In answer to the OP!
I think personal determination is the main thing. For that they need confidence and if they don't have that parents must help them. For my DS2 it was sport and maybe also his relationship with DH. I was too wound up with the boys problems at school to start with. DS1 and DD were top academically and I think I found it hard to understand why a clever little lad couldn't just learn to read.
DH did lots with him. He took him to his sport, took him to watch his older brother do sport. He went for walks by the river with him to get him some one to one time when I was looking after the younger three. They always stopped off for a glass of pop at a river side pub. They were just a lad and dad really and DS2 is still very close to DH and a bit more distant from me. I still love DS2 to bits and am extremely proved of him.
That should be proud of him!
The other problem I have is knowing I am the reason the boys are dyslexic because the boys/men in my family also have similar difficulties.
I think it is a lot about given them the confidence to excel at what they are good at.
MY ds 17 does sound a lot like yours Niceweather ie he cant spell and writing is not good, but he is an abstract thinker and has the ability to comprehend and analyse. When he started secondary he was put in the second class from the top and the first thing his english teacher said to me "he is in the right class"
He did gcses this year and unfortuantely got a bit caught up with english AQA debacle but still got his C, but got a B for english language which included an A* for one the parts. He is also very good at History and Philosophy as well as the usual maths and sciences
I do think he was lucky in all of his teachers have also had a lot of confidence in him. Last year he was one of two boys put in for an engineering 6th form scholarship which involved and exam to design 3 different objects for removing snow and then a bubblemaking machine. Those that were successful were invited to some of the top universities round the country (his case Imperial) for an interview where he had to discuss a project he had worked on. He had a brilliant time and I was so proud he could walk into a room with two strangers and be able to put across his enthusiasm for the subject and he was one of the successful applicants. Over a 1000 applied all of which would have been in the top two or three in their school and 330 odd were successful.
I do love dcs' school because it sees them for who they really are, the pastoral care is excellent.
This is all so different to when DH was struggling at school and not allowed to take computers because he was too "thick". He is an electronics engineer now and has built the pc i am using now
I would also say agree with the others on here and dont go looking for cures, i dont think they exist and am wary of anyone who says their child is cured.
Not being able to spell does have its advantages sometimes. When ds was year 6 they had an end of term project competition. DS chose the history of gaming. His teacher came to me and asked if it was all his own work and I said yes. She said she knew he hadn't copy and pasted because of the spelling. He had spelt "Officially" "Awfisherly". He jointly won the competition
Just my personal experience, but I think some people can start to impose limitations on themselves because they are dyslexic - especially a feeling that they can't spell, can't punctuate, can't read a novel and can't attempt a professional career because it involves reading a writing. Then this really sinks their confidence, and it goes into a downward spiral.
We have quite a history of dyslexia in our family, and all the family members with it have reached a point where they have highly professional jobs which make use of both their excellent long-term memory and spatial skills AND reading and writing.
I think that some of it is about having strategies and the confidence to use them, so that you're aware of likely problems and have a strategy already in place - whether it's taking constant notes to deal with memory problems, or plans for what to do if you think a word is spelled wrongly.
In my experience, we had to deregister DD (then aged 7) from school and started home educating her 9 months ago. Her self confidence and many other areas had deteriorated so much at school, she was having panic attacks, sobbing hysterically and was so so unhappy at school, we decided we had to intervene.
She only flourished once she was outside of the school system. She now has much higher self confidence, has started reading more books and actually choosing to and enjoying them, is back on track with maths. Instead of having all her dreadful spellings corrected, we look at the wonderfully creative content of her written work......then we just loom at 1 or 2 spelling patterns to concentrate on.
Many dyslexic children will never flourish and reach their potential in the school system.
Niceweather, DS is dyslexic and has a few more SLDs, in writing, auditory and processing. He is in the very superior scale of ability. He studies at university now. SLDs do not affect the IQ. People with SLDs succeed because they have the same talents as the others without SLDs, and there are accommodations to their learning - in US there is different approach to their learning. This article is v good: . The Paradox of Dyslexia: Slow Reading, Fast Thinking
jomidmum I HE DS too and it was successful.