When we removed William from school we didn’t know he was dyslexic. We knew he was clever (as all parents do!). We knew he could “see” how to deal with math and engineering problems in his head. We also knew he hated to read and write (although loved to be read to and to tell stories). School focused on what he hated, what he found difficult it never allowed him to shine. So we removed him before he was 6. We have since watched him flourish outside school. It is awesome to see how much he loves to learn!
Last year we found that Will is dyslexic. We had always shied away from “lables” and at first were not sure that we knew how to proceed with the knowledge. Homeschooling (and more specifically unschooling) meant that Will could work at his own pace and could continue to do so regardless of dyslexia. We were pleased to know more about Will’s learning style and how to deliver materials to him but did we need to go further…?
While researching I slowly discovered that I am dyslexic too. My excitement and relief were profound, I felt so happy to know why school had seemed so horrible to me. Looking back I wasn’t a terribly poor student although I had taken longer to read and multiply than others and had felt stupid. As I read about and watched videos about other dyslexics my excitement grew because I was discovering that not only our struggles but our talents came from dyslexia. The more I learned the more I loved my dyslexia (really, I love it). I realised that many of the things that I actually like about myself come FROM being dyslexic.
Often a difficulty is a trade off for a strength, as it is with dyslexia (I recommend you read The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain to find out more about strengths and their trade off, highly recommend it in fact!). If I weren’t dyslexic the visions in my head my not be as vivid! I would not trade that for the world, I love the way I can visualise! I can ‘see’ light falling on a subject before I can see it and I can see how my photos will look before I take them. I would not change how my imagination works simply so I could recite multiplication factors (which I can’t, I still work them out rather than know them)! No thank you. Although at school it seemed so important to be able to read quickly and know multiplication factors…
Dyslexia is a learning difference, and should not be viewed as a negative. The more I know about dyslexia the more I believe that dyslexia is wrongly called a ‘disorder’, it is only a ‘problem’ because of the way we teach! I am not blaming teachers, I am blaming a ridged and outdated schooling system. If our schools taught to differences these children would never feel left behind. They would never feel that a learning difference is bad! Being dyslexic would simply be a word to describe more about how they learn and how their brain works!
My son now knows all about dyslexia and has never thought it a hindrance, he happily tells people that he’s dyslexic. He knows he is not as good at reading as some kids although simply thinks he will catch up when he (and his brain) is ready. He also knows that he has an “engineer brain” (as he calls it) and that sometimes the way his brain works means that it will take him longer to learn the “boring” (as he says) things but that he can figure out some things that other kids can’t.
Dyslexics are tactile. Dyslexics are visual. Dyslexics are imaginative! Some see patterns that that non-dyslexics may miss. Some see relationships and connections. Some can use reasoning to predict future outcomes or even past events. They think creatively. These are skills that should be as highly valued as any.
I hope that we can all find a way to love our differences!
To find out more about dyslexia I recommend you read The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain and also peruse and watch lots and lots of videos on the Dyslexic Advantage web page!