What’s holding you back from becoming your child’s dyslexia advocate?

May 30, 2024
What holds parents back from becoming ther child’s dyslexia advocate?

 When they learn their child has dyslexia or another learning disability, some parents leap into action. They ask questions, they schedule meetings with administrators, they hire outside help. Other parents do not, and there is absolutely no judgment from me about that.  Their reasons are very valid, but I believe it's possible to overcome them.

There are 3 main reasons that I see that parents keep themselves on the sidelines:

  1. They don’t know it’s important to step in.
  2. They know it’s a good idea to try to advocate but they don’t feel they know enough
  3. They have their own trauma related to their own school experience. 

 If one of these describes you, then feel free to skip down to the section that might be helpful to your situation. 

 

1. PARENT'S DON'T KNOW THAT SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY ARE NECESSARY FOR DYSLEXIC CHILDREN

 One of the biggest predictors of ultimate success (ie becoming a productive, thriving adult with positive self-esteem) for child with dyslexia is the ongoing involvement of a parent or other trusted adult. In her book, Overcoming Dyslexia, the world-renowned dyslexia researcher Dr. Sally Shaywitz states

“Behind the success of every disabled child is a passionately committed, intensely engaged and totally empowered parent".

Kids with dyslexia (or other specific learning disability) need you to understand their learning difference and be their cheerleader. They also need to know you are involved in the decision-making process by attending school meetings and communicating with their teacher often. And they need your validation and hugs when they are frustrated or overwhelmed. You don’t need any special training or certification to do any of these things, so let's get off the bench and get in the game!

 

2. PARENTS DON’T FEEL QUALIFIED TO ATTEND SCHOOL MEETINGS OR MAKE SUGGESTIONS

⚠️STOP RIGHT THERE! No one, I mean no one, is more of an expert in your child than you are.

While you may not understand the biology of dyslexia or the fancy terms about learning to read (no parent knows what “phonemic awareness” is unless it’s explained to them!), you know what your child is good at and what your child needs more help with.  This is all the knowledge you need to be a contributing member of the IEP team. 

But also remember, that this is WHY I AM HERE! My mission is to be sure you have the information you need to confidently walk into that meeting.  If you’re not sure where to begin, then download my free Dyslexia Starter Guide for Parents.

 

3. PARENTS MAY HAVE THEIR OWN EDUCATIONAL TRAUMA

 There is a very good chance that a child with dyslexia or specific learning disability has a parent who struggled in school.  Perhaps they had dyslexia themselves or ADHD. Or perhaps they had a struggle that went unnoticed or was simply chalked up to being a “behavior problem”.

This may have led to a childhood filled with feelings of shame or being made to feel stupid or unworthy.  If this is how you spent the 13 years of school as a kid then of course you wouldn’t want to set foot back in in a school again. Engaging with school administrators and teachers may dig up some of this childhood trauma, and that can be hard to move past.

If this describes you, I want you to know that I see you, and I’m so sorry. The system failed you 😞.   Everyone should have their learning differences recognized and supported. 

But the bottom line is that we can’t let the same type of shame and stress be the running theme of your child’s school years.  We have the change the narrative for the next generation. 

 Here are some steps you can take to try to overcome this:

-Prepare.  The best way to prevent emotions from taking over at a meeting is to write down the points you’d like to make in advance.  High levels of emotions tend to wipe out out memories and then we might not recall what we wanted to day.

-Download the Dyslexia Start Guide for Parents.  This will give you a framework to begin because getting started is always the hardest part

-Consider talking through your educational trauma with someone. Perhaps a partner or close friend, or even a professional therapist.  If working through some of this trauma makes you a better advocate for your child, then it’s worth the time and effort.

************

Are there other reasons you've been holding back on advocating for your child?  I'd love to hear more about it. You can DM me on Instragram @parentingdyslexia360 or you can email me at [email protected].

Subscribe

Be the first to find out when a new blog is up!

No spam. I promise.