Where do you start after your child has been diagnosed with Dyslexia?
Let me guide you through 4 essential steps. Be sure to do these in order – this is crucial. When you finish these steps, you will step into the role of a more powerful advocate for your child.
Step 1: Breathe! You are likely feeling all kinds of emotions right now. You may be feeling relieved that you have some explanation for what is happening with your child at this point. You may feel overwhelmed because you are still unclear what dyslexia is and the best ways to help your child. You may feel guilt about times you were impatient with your child for something they honestly could not help. Be kind and gracious to yourself. Apologize to your child. Offer grace and forgiveness to yourself and your child.
Step 2: Take time to process these feelings and the information from the doctor’s report. The day you met with the doctor to go over the news, you likely were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of unfamiliar information. You need time to process this. You need time to understand what all the testing means, not to mention the recommendations.
It’s like learning a foreign language—You can’t expect to know all the terminology and jargon at the first meeting. Understanding the new vocabulary will take time, so be kind to yourself. If you need help interpreting the information talk to the doctor again or find an advocate who analyzes these tests on a regular basis.
The other point that I want to make is you can’t know what you don’t know. You probably didn’t even know what questions you had while taking in the information at your meeting with the doctor. Your questions may bubble up over the next few days and weeks. Write them down. Call the doctor’s office back when you’ve compiled a few questions and ask your questions or consult with an advocate who specializes in dyslexia.
Step 3: Get support. It is essential to get help on this journey from others who have walked the road before you. Here’s the catch, though. Everyone has an opinion just like everyone has a belly button. Not every idea will be a good one, and not every solution or experience will fit your family and your situation.
No two dyslexic people are alike. There are nuances to every dyslexic person that is unique to them. Your child is a unique human—remember that. Find a guide on your journey. Find someone you trust to lead the way and guide you down the right path.
Facebook support groups are great but look for ones with strong admins who can weed out the noise for you. Our Right Start – Dyslexia Support for Parents group could be the right fit for you. I carefully weed out anyone who is not a parent. I don’t want people in the group peddling their programs to you. You can join us by following this link:
Step 4: Now, you are ready to take action. I know many of you want to take action first, but you need time to process all the information. You needed to know what options were available and which would fit your child the best. Now you can move to figure out what program is the best for your child. You can figure out if you need to get the school to classify your child as a child with a disability who is entitled to specialized services and accommodations through your school’s CSE (Committee on Special Education). Perhaps, your child only needs a 504 plan. You can move to start your child in a specialized reading program designed for people with dyslexia.
Once you start working with your school, you will be shocked at what they do not know about dyslexia. Sadly, this is normal. Expect this. Is it shocking? Yes, it is for most parents. Please understand that teacher training does not educate teachers and administrators about dyslexia. They do not know the best way to support a child with dyslexia, even though their school is full of them. Just be aware.
So let’s recap the steps to take after a dyslexia diagnosis.
Step 1: Breathe! Just breathe! Sit with the diagnosis. Don’t DO anything yet!
Step 2: Process the information! Wrap your head around everything. Again, don’t DO anything yet.
Step 3: Get support. Now you can do something. Find an online support group to help you navigate this diagnosis. Find a leader and a guide.
Step 4: NOW TAKE ACTION!