BY PETER LAMBORN
Life as I knew it changed dramatically during a meeting at the end of my son’s 4th grade year. This son had been in and out of special education and the meeting was going over test results to see how he had progressed over the last three years. In my mind, this child was doing okay, but not great at school. However, the test results painted a very bleak picture. He had dropped, respective to his peers, in every category they evaluated. Not just dropped, but he had significant drops. This was also the first time it was suggested to us that our son might have dyslexia. My comfortable feeling of things being okay was shattered and we had to evaluate anew how to best help him.
As parents we were shocked and scared. We had only a limited understanding of dyslexia and most of what we knew seemed bad. It took us a while to come to terms with our own emotions. It was also surprising how incorrect we had been about our son’s school progress. My false impression was at least partially due to my son’s ability to compensate for his learning differences. During this time we were reading anything that seemed useful on dyslexia.
After the initial shock, we had much more thorough testing done and had the diagnosis of dyslexia confirmed. As we learned more about dyslexia, we began seeing signs of it in our other children. Testing confirmed that all four of our children had dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a neurobiological brain difference that comes with a host of strengths and weaknesses. Dyslexia is not correlated with IQ. About 20% of students have dyslexia, which would be about five students in the classrooms my children have been in. If students with dyslexia are identified and addressed at a young age, they can achieve as much as their neurotypical peers. However, if unaddressed, dyslexia can have a crippling effect on a person’s life, including limiting career choices, higher rates of incarceration, and mental illness.
We spent about a year trying various approaches for addressing our children’s dyslexia. This was a very painful year, not knowing what to do, not knowing if what we were doing was helping. Not knowing which authorities to trust for dyslexia information. By the end of that year we had come up with a plan we were happy with for the three youngest of our children.
I can confidently say that all of my children are better off for having their dyslexia identified and addressed. They have all made great progress since that fateful meeting that changed my life. However, coming to terms with our new reality and deciding on the best course of action was very difficult.
You may have received a test result indicating that your child has signs of dyslexia. If you are like me, you are feeling unsure. You do not know what, if anything, you should do for your child. If you are feeling that way, I invite you to meet with the Los Alamos Dyslexia Advocates (LADA). We are parents of children in Los Alamos that have dyslexia. We have had experiences like yours with dyslexia. We would like to ease your way, so your experiences are not as difficult as ours were. We are having two information sessions to allow everyone in the community to ask dyslexia questions. The first session is on October 16th at Little Studio on the Mesa from 2:00pm to 3:15pm. The second is on November 6th at the Los Alamos Steam Lab from 2:30pm to 4:00pm. These meetings will be open house style, allowing you to drop in as your schedule permits. I wish I could have attended something like this at the beginning of my journey with dyslexia.
You can contact us by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org