Dumb, stupid. Definitely two of the most repugnant words in the English language; words that ought to be regarded as swear words! Still, that is how children label themselves when they experience school as a nightmare. A reading lesson means hours of struggle, the confusion between letters like b and d is a frightening reality, words are being reversed and everything needs to be sounded out.
Whereas Sis passes her afternoons in the pleasant company of bulky books, little brother prefers paging through comics — that is, if you can get him so far as to actually open one. Words are few and pictures tell the stories: one sure way to avoid reading…
Sounds familiar? Do we hear a sigh of despondency escape from your lips?
Yes, the two of you practise spelling late into the night, but somehow everything is misspelt during the next day’s test. You as parent are at your wit’s end and the teacher is worried: he is falling behind because he writes too s-l-o-w-l-y.
From our own childhood we remember how cruel children can be, and that has not changed. Classmates are quick to tease the slow, under average performers. That is, if the child who struggles with reading and spelling is not already burdened by a self-imposed label, the forerunner of a negative self-esteem that can become so entrenched in his psyche that he may live his entire adult life under the misconception of his own inadequacy.
Misconception, yes, because this worrisome plodding does not paint the true picture of your child’s intelligence. You may find that there is a brilliant mind hidden behind those low test scores, someone who will one day proudly graduate in his field. The possibility of a professional career is definitely not ruled out. Richard Branson comes to mind. A dyslexia sufferer, he did not achieve academically but that did not stop him from becoming a brilliant businessman. He compensated for his reading problem and today his wealth is estimated at well over 4.6 billion American dollars.
Fortunately, help is available these days. It is unthinkable that a child is doomed to struggle. Even dyslexia is no longer the academic death penalty of years gone by. It is no longer regarded as a learning disability, but simply as an inability that can be turned into an area of strength with the right intervention.
Research results recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience show that brain differences between dyslexic people and ordinary readers are the result, not the cause, of their reading problems. Research also tells us that the brain constantly forms new pathways or neurons, and this means that children with dyslexia can be helped to overcome it.
Surely it is every parent’s dream to provide only the best for his/her child, and when you see your young one struggling with reading and spelling, it is time to call for help. The opportunity is available — give your child a fair chance.