Discovering Dyslexia: The Elephant in the Room

Tears. Tears are streaming down my face as I read about another mom’s journey stumbling to figure out her child has dyslexia.

When I saw fellow blogger Jen Kehl this summer, she described the struggles her son was facing in reading.

It was all of the red flags I had seen in my own kiddo but so many people dismissed.

Today on my series Voices of Special Needs on Mommy Evolution, listen to Jen’s story, which is similar to many of ours.

Voices of Special Needs on Mommy Evolution: SPD, ADHD + Dyslexia

Tears. Last year was the year of tears.

It was the year of me secretly wishing he would actually, really want to go to “real” school and actually really like it.

It was also the year I knew he could not actually go to real school because I knew he could not read.

Last year we fought and bargained and lost hours of potential fun to no fun. Not any.

[bctt tweet=”Last year we fought and bargained and lost hours of potential fun to no fun. Not any.”]

It was the first year we didn’t run off to the Botanic Gardens or the forest preserve just for the heck of it.

It was the first year we never had time to do fun science experiments because we couldn’t get through any lesson that involved reading.

I would say, “We will sit here until you read this.”

And he would say, “Fine.” And 4 hours later it would be time to make dinner and we would be sitting there staring daggers at each other.

Last year, other wonderful, homeschooling moms, would say, “Don’t worry, he’ll read when he’s ready.”

Last year, I knew that wasn’t true.

Last year, I said things in exasperation like, “Come on Isaiah, just try!” and “You know how to spell that, we just did it!” and “I am not going to read this for you, I know you can do it.”

And yet, I knew he couldn’t.

I knew he couldn’t but I didn’t want to believe it.

I wanted to believe it was my fault, that I had failed as a teacher.

I wanted to believe what everyone had told me, “When he’s ready, it will click.”

It did not click.

Last year, there was an elephant in the living room, and that elephant was Dyslexia.

This year, with a new school year looming, denial was no longer an option.

With the threat of another year of tantrums, and tears, I stepped outside of my comfort zone to seek an answer.

I believed I saw the signs of dyslexia, but my heart was conflicted.

Discovering Dyslexia - One mom's path to discovering her child has Dyslexia

This year began with an apology. “Isaiah, I am so sorry for all of the times I pushed you to read when you couldn’t.

I want you to know that it is not your fault, it was not because you weren’t smart enough.

You are so brilliant in so many ways, but your brain is missing the decoder for reading words that are written on paper.

It is because you are so amazing and talented that I thought you should be able to read.”

“Mommy, I wish you had tried to find out that I was dyslexic earlier.

I wish that you would have thought of it before. It was so hard for me when you would make me try to read, and I just couldn’t.

But you wouldn’t let me not read.

I was so mad at you for not helping me.”

“I know baby, I am so sorry.

I don’t know what to say, except this year will be different.

This year we will get back to doing the things we loved so much in homeschooling.

We will do crafts again, and go on field trips, I will read you your math questions and it will be so much more fun.”

Already, I felt he was on to something else.

“You know mommy?

There should be some sort of invention, a computer program that has children read, and listens to them read.

It should know, just how they are reading, and it will say to their mommy (in a computer voice) ‘This child has dyslexia.’

You know what mommy?

Maybe with my amazing inventor brain, I will invent something that will help kids with dyslexia, something that will help parents know sooner.

What do you think about that?”

“Well, I think that is a brilliant idea, and I know you can do it.”

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    1. How wonderful that you were able to figure it out and that you and your son can move forward. It’s great that he has you at home teaching him so that his education can fit his unique brain!

    2. I have dyslexia. I am an avid reader – when I have the time – ha! I struggled with reading, and my teachers struggled with me. I told them that what they were saying, how they were trying to teach me made no sense. Sounding out words was not the answer for me. It only made it more difficult. I was so determined to figure it out I brought my Dick and Jane books home and stared at the words on the page. I could recognize each letter so I started there. Then I figured it out. It was all about letter and word recognition. I used the letters, words, and pictures to decode the mystery known as reading. C-a-t = Cat, d-o-g = dog. I was so excited when I figured it out I taught my brother to read when he was three. By the time he was five he was reading the People’s Almanac front to back. Today he is a librarian. True story. Throw out phonics and start with remedial letter and word recognition. Dyslexia is not a disability. It is just a different way of processing information. People marvel that I can read those shirts that most people have to see in a mirror to decipher. It looks the same to me. Backwards, sideways, upside-down it is all just as easy to read. It just took me some time to learn how to use the way my brain works to my advantage. Most dyslexics are gifted. It sounds like your son is. I consider dyslexia a gift, and your son will too one day 😉

    3. In my ripe old age I have come to think that the neurological differences of those with learning differences allow their minds other strengths and freedoms. Sounds like your son is already discovering that!!!!

      1. The more I learn about those neurological differences, the more I understand that it really does give them strengths as well. It doesn’t change the struggle in school, but hopefully it also opens other doors later in life for our kids.

    4. This sounds exactly like the scene at our house! Schools are little help. My kid has had an IEP for years. Yet last year his 7th grade teachers were still saying “if only he would try harder”. I still didn’t know much about dyslexia, although my son had gone through vision therapy, occupational therapy, and special ed. But by that time I was responding “he DOES try hard-much harder than the average kid!”

      Last year I put in his IEP that he can use a computer to type any time he doesn’t want to handwrite, as he is a decent typist. This year his teacher is allowing Kindles for all of the kids. His will read his books aloud, as he does well in that format. The university his brother is attending has a great dyslexia program, with all textbooks in audio format. I just have to get him there!

      1. Good for you! I don’t know why teachers insist on ever using that phrase. It’s the worst!!!

        I’m curious… what program do you use for reading his book aloud? We aren’t there yet but will be in a couple of years to try and get something added for him at school.

    5. I wish there was a programme that school teachers in preschool, grade 1 could attend to identify dyslexia, nearing age 10 , my son is finally diagnosed and we can only move forward from there.

    6. My son was born in 1983. School did not help, my son struggled with reading. They just told him to call the word what ever he wanted to do. He did not do well in school until 10th grade when he ask a teacher aide to put him in a computer class. She did and he then went to Welding Classes when in high school and made A and B. Trevor went on to Underwater Welding School in California and graduated with honors. He excelled in Math and joined Pipe Fitters Union and put in shoots that are used in hospitals to pass medicine, etc, Your children will find a trade that they are interested or even get their master or doctor degree from college. Your child can get a person to read to him if he struggles. In Polk County, Florida they have a school for children that have dyslexia and they are taught skills to exceed and then placed in regular classes. Love you and your child.

    7. My son was evaluated for and diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 10, and re-evaluated at 15. The neuropsychologist who did the more recent evaluation turned us on to Learning Ally ( It’s fabulous! In order to sign up all you need is someone who’s qualified to diagnose dyslexia submit that yes, your child has a learning disability, and with an annual fee you’ll have access to books that your child can read visually while a voice reads it to them as the words being read are highlighted. They even have textbooks like my son’s high school biology book. My son went from hating to read and write about what he’d read, to turning out short papers on the books he read. Having a reading tutor who is trained for dyslexic kids is key as well. If you can’t afford Learning Ally, is free (a government sponsored site) and is similar.

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