In recent discussions with parents of children that are showing signs of dyslexia I am noticing a trend of some parents being fearful of getting a diagnosis for their child.Having a dyslexia diagnosis is a something that takes time to process as a parent as well as for the child involved. So it is totally understandable that a parent may feel nervous about what a dyslexia assessment might reveal.In this blog post we will explore together what fears could be surrounding a diagnosis of dyslexia as well as what the benefits are in having a diagnosis.
What fears do we experience?
There are many fears that can be experienced surrounding the anticipation of getting a dyslexia diagnosis. I am not going to be able to go into all of them but I will touch on some major ones to explore.
Fear of our child being labelled.
I believe that this is a common one. It is only human nature to want to be seen as the same
as everyone else when there is a chance of people viewing our children differently due to a diagnosis.
Unfortunately, many people are ignorant about what the term dyslexia actually means. Partly this is because the symptoms of dyslexia are so broad in nature. It is not necessarily a problem with reading and writing. It can involve a difficulty in remembering things and processing information, it can make one see things differently.
Many people do not understand this, but awareness is increasing and gradually schools are becoming better at supporting dyslexic pupils.
The label of dyslexia does not mean that a child is stupid, lazy, or uninterested.
So we as parents should do our best to educate friends , teachers and peers about what dyslexia means and what it does not. Helping others to be familiar with what dyslexia means for a child, means that they are more likely to get more understanding and support and not ignorant sympathy for something that for many is actually a gift.
Fear of my child standing out negatively from their peers.
This is similar to fears about our children getting labelled. But the reality is that whilst a child with dyslexia may need support with studying, they often show strengths in their social skills and abilities to tackle problems.
As parents we should look to discover the strengths in our children and help them to utilise them in their interactions with others so that whilst they may stand out, they will stand out for the right positive reasons.
Fear of the diagnosis making no difference at all at my child's school.
A number of years ago, I had a friend who thought that their daughter was dyslexic. When they highlighted this to their child's school, the school said that even with a diagnosis, they did not have the budget to support their child over and above that of any other child.
Whilst I do believe that there are schools out there that will do whatever they can to avoid making reasonable adjustments for their dyslexic pupils, the reality is that, at least here in the UK, they are required by government to provide reasonable support. If they don't provide any support you have grounds to complain and escalate that complaint should you not be satisfied.
Fear of my child being considered stupid.
Unfortunately this is common and yes it is a fear and a valid one. When my daughter was diagnosed she even experienced a teacher accusing her of being stupid!
There is always going to be someone that is ignorant about dyslexia but on the whole I would hope that this won't be a common occurrence and if it is again within a school setting you have grounds to complain about bullying.
Fear of my child being the only one with dyslexia.
There is no chance of your child being the only one!
Here in the UK, the current average population of dyslexics amounts to around 10% and that is for people that are actually diagnosed.
My belief is that the actually percentage is higher but if we stick with that percentage, in a country of 70 million this means that there are 7 million who are dyslexic. In a class of 30 pupils this could mean at least 3 will be dyslexic.
Your child is not alone!
Benefits of diagnosis.
The diagnosis will pinpoint what resources are required to support my child.
Having a diagnosis arms you with information!
A diagnosis will tell you what challenges your child has been facing and it will give guidelines for the support that your child will need at school. It helps you to know what to push for if your child happens to be in a school that is reluctant to provide support.
The diagnosis confirms that there was a reason for some of the challenges my child has been
experiencing at school.
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The other week I sat in a room of adults that had fairly recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. A really common remark that was made was "I thought with my forgetting things that I was going senile but then my diagnosis helped me to understand my condition better." Imagine how stressful that must be as an adult to not be able to do things that you can see other adults do and with no obvious reason for that.
For those adults, having a dyslexia diagnosis was reassuring and enabled them to do something about combating some of those challenges.
For a child at school, whilst initially the child may not like having the diagnosis, at least they can understand why they do things in certain ways and start to find strategies that help them.
The diagnosis gives me the confidence to request support from my child's school.
Certainly for my wife and I, this is a really valid point. Whilst we had suspicions of dyslexia, our school would not do anything to support our daughter because in her case she was passing everything. The school was so keen to only focus on those that had 'troubling' results that unless we could provide proof of our daughter being dyslexic, they were not prepared to put any further resources in place to support her.
Once we got a diagnosis, we could understand what was needed for our daughter and with recommendations being in the report for support, it gave us the confidence that we needed to push the school to provide support. To their credit they listened and provided the support that our daughter needed. I recognise that in some schools that this is not always easy to convince the school to provide resources. However, since our time, the UK government now requires schools to make reasonable adjustments and with a diagnosis it gives you a position of strength to push for support.
Want more information about diagnostic assessments?
There is a wonderful resource website which has a whole section on getting assessments. I recommend you taking a look by clicking here.
What are your thoughts? Have you experienced these fears? Have you experienced different fears? How did you push through and get the support that your child needed?
I would love to hear from you either in the comments box below or on twitter using #SWDBlog.
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