Learning that your child has dyslexia can be very challenging. But the label can also be liberating. Suddenly your child is no longer just the struggling kid in the class. Rather, they have a learning difference – or preferred way of learning – that can be dealt with constructively.
The concept of preference is about recognizing that dyslexic individuals think differently, so naturally prefer to receive, process and present information in ways that make more sense to them. As they tend to think in pictures rather than words – receiving and retrieving information in a different part of the brain to neurotypical, word-based thinkers – they often prefer to receive and present orally or visually rather than via the written word.
Importantly, dyslexia at its best can deliver powerful creativity and the kind of ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking that is becoming increasingly more important in an ICT-led world. This is a real positive – and offers real rewards for parents who are able to support their children to achieve their full potential. At the Dyslexia Foundation, we are very excited about this potential and have developed a number of resources based on 4D thinking, which extends the common perception of three dimensions to overlay a fourth dimension of creativity. These initiatives, including this 4D Family webspace, embrace a new thinking paradigm that views dyslexia from an asset rather than deficit perspective.
This space offers advice on how you can support your child to achieve, both in the home and at school. This advice is fundamentally based on a philosophy of ‘notice and adjust’ – a common-sense approach that is about noticing children who are getting stuck and making adjustments to help. This space also shares some real life parent perspectives on how dyslexia impacts families. Information on support groups and solution providers is also provided here.
Rather than get overly caught up in debate on defining dyslexia, our focus is action that makes a difference right here, right now; drawing on the huge body of research and experiential evidence that already exists on dyslexia. This includes key learnings from acclaimed international dyslexia authority Neil Mackay, who is a consultant to the Dyslexia Foundation. He is also a consultant to our revolutionary 4D programme for schools, which provides guidance on classroom changes to improve the learning environment. Neil Mackay’s expertise is further shared in a dedicated webspace. More on 4D for schools can be found at www.4d.org.nz/school/
Typically it is within the school environment that a child’s dyslexia first becomes transparent. Children start school full of curiosity and eagerness to learn but, for the one in ten New Zealand schoolchildren with dyslexia, this can quickly turn to frustration and stress when unexpected difficulties arise. Overall, dyslexia’s greatest difficulty is self-esteem; it only becomes a disability if not appropriately addressed with the education system becoming the disabling agent.
In some cases, however, dyslexia may only become evident at home. This may be because the student is using their intelligence to create effective classroom coping strategies that mask their dyslexic tendencies at school. Parent feedback is that this is often difficult to address as they don’t want to make a fuss at school or find it hard to approach a teacher who may have other students with more obvious needs. If this is you, our Dyslexia at School information is a must read to help you successfully approach your child’s school.