“Please don’t use the word dyslexia when talking to my child,” a well-meaning mother asked me before assessing her child. In the past, that is exactly what I used to do. Trying to pretend that there is no problem present, nor a solution necessary, just a slight adjustment.
I fully understand, when parents want to protect their children’s emotional reality, or are trying to boost their fragile self-esteem. However, in the past ten years of working with these individuals, I have learned that this does more damage than good.
Parents and therapists that keep reassuring the children that they don’t have a problem may rob them from a solution to eliminate their difficulties.
It gives children a false perception that often leads to a false interpretation of their challenges: “I must be stupid,” being a common one—and nothing could be further from the truth. Often these conclusions stop the motivation necessary to resolve the learning difficulties and to take responsibility for their own learning.
When I talk to a dyslexic child and do point out that they are dyslexic, indeed, I also explain what it means to be dyslexic, how many advantages there are in having a big-picture mind and list the many brilliant people who share the “label of dyslexia” (from Einstein to Richard Branson). In just about every case, learning that they are dyslexic is a relief and finding out that this is not at all a disability, but a different learning style, additionally empowers them to accept the benefits and take responsibility for any changes they are motivated to make themselves. All they will need is some tools and strategies to do so.