In the lobby of the Children’s Dyslexia Center, it is common to hear parents talking amongst themselves about the struggles and triumphs their children have experienced with dyslexia as well as the challenges they have faced as parents trying to navigate their way in unfamiliar territory. Margaret Byrd Rawson is quoted in the book About Dyslexia by Priscilla L. Vail saying that “the differences are personal, the diagnosis is clinical, the treatment is educational, and the understanding is scientific.” When we consider all that dyslexia truly encompasses it also becomes necessary to consider that dyslexia
continues to be misunderstood by many in part due to the misnomer about identifying and remediating dyslexia that exists, which often leaves parents feeling frustrated, confused, and lost. That starts to change at the Center. “We come in every week and have support. You get to talk to other parents and hear about the progress their kids are making. That gives me lots of hope” said Lissa, mother of a child currently receiving instruction at the Center. Hope is an amazing thing.
Like the quote above, the path to finding services at our Center is different and unique for each family and comes from clinics, teachers, friends, and more. Heather shared a fairly common story about how she learned of the Center. Heather states “We learned about the Center through my Mother-in-Law. She met a parent of a former student at a dinner group who was talking about it.” Lissa, in a less common encounter, learned about the Center through her child’s special education teacher. Lissa states “She (special education teacher) knew about dyslexia because her sister’s son has it, and she thought she saw it in my son.” That connection and referral, though through a personal experience rather than educational one, is making a difference in Lissa’s child’s life and that teacher had the wherewithal to suggest it to Lissa. Unfortunately Carla’s experience wasn’t as smooth through school. “The school did not provide us with any direction after they suspected our son had dyslexia; so I started my search with the help of Google” Carla shared. Similar to Carla’s experience Melanie stated that “I just started investigating myself, and I was brave enough and just called.” Regardless of how a family finds us they are often relieved once they get here and realize they are not on this adventure alone.
These parents happily share their experiences with one another and build incredible connections. They have been bringing their children to tutoring twice a week, anywhere from a year to 3 years, after waiting patiently on the wait list for an opening with a practitioner. The commitment is not for the weak of heart. When asked about the waiting list, Josh recommended “Don’t be discouraged by the wait list.” Robert shared that “It’s a process. You’re on the right path. You’re almost there. Once you get in, it’s worth it!” And Lissa summed up the process with this thought “You have to stick with it and be
positive. You have to commit to it and to be here twice a week, but then you will see results. He (her son) will read things out loud now, that’s new for us!” The application process and waiting can feel daunting but the staff walks parents through it and supports them every step of the way.
“It has been nice getting to know the staff and having people walk you through things,” said Lissa. “At first it was scary as a parent because you can’t control or fix dyslexia, but having the staff knowledge, empathy, and compassion has helped me walk through it.” Once parents receive the email or phone call stating that there is an opening and they are next on the list, the real connections begin. With a grateful heart Carla shared, “The center has made such a tremendous difference in our son’s life. By the end of second grade, our son was crying almost daily. He did not want to go to school or do homework and often called himself ‘stupid’, which as a parent is a heart wrenching situation that you just want to fix! But I didn’t have the tools to help him. Now that he is in 4th grade, he is doing well on all of his Star Assessments and getting 90-100% on his spelling tests! Homework is no longer a struggle with tears to complete. I don’t think he realizes how much he has gained from the exceptional help he has received at the center, but I do. Our home situation is so much better because school work is no longer a battle and he feels more confident about himself. I have also found strength in listening to other parent’s journey to find help for their kids and realize their situation is similar to ours.” The wonderful thing about Carla’s message is that it is not unique. Parents eagerly share similar experiences once their child starts receiving instruction at the Center. Josh said “This center has been the only place that has actually helped. We tried private tutoring, but it was ineffective and not worth the money.” Robert said, “It’s a god sent. When you are at your wits end and you don’t know where else to turn when you see your child struggling, you finally see them get the help they need. The child goes back to the happy, fun-loving child. My happy child is back.”
At the Center, our goal is to provide kiddos with the remedial instruction they need and deserve in order to excel but in doing so we also get to help families. The power of connecting people who are going through similar situations is amazing. To watch and listen as they begin to feel empowered is a secondary benefit that we get to experience with families. “I feel that I better understand my son and his strengths and imagination! I feel like his confidence has not caught up with his intellectual abilities but we are getting there. We have had fun learning about famous people who have dyslexia and
understanding that likely ONLY because they have dyslexia were they able to succeed. Did you know George Lucas has dyslexia? How else would you create such fascinating planets, stories and spaceships?” Carla said.
Parents are an important part of the equation and should not ever be dismissed or trivialized. Though we don’t provide formal support for parents navigating their way through this adventure, we get to informally support and encourage the relationships they build amongst one another and those who interact with their kiddos every day. Parents have a powerful voice but like their children, sometimes they need the support, encouragement, and terminology to be able to navigate their path. We are excited to be able to help them find that voice and encourage them to speak loud and proud.