How to support a dyslexic learner AFTER intervention.

How to support Dyslexic Learners After Intervention.


It is widely accepted that someone who is learning and who has dyslexia is someone who thinks differently and who with the right intervention can be supported successfully through education and ultimately in realising their potential.

There are many cases now where young people will now be able to get some kind of assessment that will lead to a change in strategies helping them to engage more effectively through education.

For some, whilst intervention with study skills support, technology and more personalised provision is effective, by the time they have been assessed and received help, they have already suffered years of hardship within the classroom.  

Despite an assessment telling them that they are not stupid, have strengths etc, it might still be a challenge to accept that personally because up until now that is all that they have known.
They will already have had experiences, potentially, of being misunderstood, told that they are lazy, could do better and are simply not making the grade. They will have felt judgement from peers and perhaps suffered from bullying and sometimes been treated unprofessionally by teachers.

So when the assessment happens and all of a sudden there is understanding, this extra help will not have fully helped the individual to deal with the emotional burden of what they have been through over a number of years.
Having dyslexia has already been linked to being depressed particularly if the individual also has other SpLd's such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

So what can we do to support those dyslexic learners who, armed with new strategies for learning, are still coping with the emotional fall out from their experiences?

Just listen!

As a parent or friend of a dyslexic learner, it can be really compelling to try and help, give advice, try and motivate etc when really all that the individual wants is a little bit of empathy and a pair of ears.

It is very easy to assume how someone is feeling and find that, before you know it, you have made assumptions about the individual that are incorrect. "Everything will be fine now that you have purchased that piece of software that reads out your text in school.  So why are you not feeling any better?"
The reality is, that the individual, is still the same individual that they were before assessment.  They now have tools that can help them academically but their experiences may have left them depressed, timid, angry, confused etc.

Let's give them a chance to explore those feelings and express them before we assume that they are 'fixed'!

Simple but effective questions such as 'How are you feeling?' or 'What is it like for you now that you have some help?' send a strong message to the individual that you are there for them and want to help them, on THEIR terms. This builds trust , rapport and signals the start of healing for them.

Signpost to emotional help and support.

For many people, especially those that are male, it is difficult to ask for help with emotions.  We often internalise and build up assumptions that the impact on our emotions are normal and there is nothing that you can do to feel better.
Sure, with SpLD support, the individual will start to see improvements at school or college and start to feel good about achieving at a higher level, but it takes time before feelings about relationships and self esteem can start to improve.

It is therefore useful to be aware of organisations that can help such as GROOOPS who provide specific counselling support for people with dyslexia.

The great thing about a counsellor is that they are there totally for the individual and allows them to speak about anything that is bothering them.

Another alternative, might be to get the individual to engage with a Life Coach.  Life coaching as defined by the International Coaching Federation  as a partnering between coach and client in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

In my work as a coach, I seek to help young people understand more about what is important to them and to put in place co-developed goals that help them to get there.  Coaching is a great way to explore 'blocks' in our potential, build relationships, communicate more effectively,and identify self defeating beliefs that stop us from being brilliant.  

In many cases, having an undiagnosed SpLD can be the root of not believing in oneself and ultimately depression.  Armed with the right amounts of self awareness, motivation and tools, a dyslexic learner's opportunities could be endless!  

Whether choosing coaching or counselling or being listened to by friends and family, the opportunity to be heard deeply is a key ingredient to recovering from the emotional trauma experienced from being a misunderstood dyslexic.

John Hicks

John is a Cambridge based marketeer and life coach who is married with two teenage daughters. With one of his daughters being dyslexic, John is familiar with the emotional turmoil having undiagnosed dyslexia can cause.
John focuses his work as a life coach on young people in secondary and further education with an emphasis on career coaching.  Click the banner below to find out more about his 'Finding Your Career Compass Programme'.

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Click here to find out more about John Hicks and his work with young people.