Psychologists presented research into the social and emotional impact of dyslexia at a Specific Learning Differences conference in Singapore yesterday.
Reading about the social and emotional impact of dyslexia made me think about my own dyslexic students that I teach.
I thought about the 13 year old boy who immediately transforms into “clown” mode when asked to write anything down on paper. I thought about the 12 year old girl who tells me she hates the withdrawn, sulky face she presents to the world and would like to be someone else. I thought about the 7 year old boy who is often angry, frustrated and disruptive in class because he “just doesn’t get it”.
It’s no wonder that these children have low self-esteem and anxiety issues. Dyslexic children have to work so much harder in the classroom than other children. Often the struggle for the dyslexic child is overwhelming; they either lose concentration and lapse into misbehaviour – or simply give up.
Richard Branson left school at 15; his headmaster told him he “would either end up in prison or become a millionaire”.
Success at school is very important to a child’s feelings of self-worth. A child’s self-esteem is intrinsically linked to how well he is doing at school, compared to his peers. If everybody else is “getting it”, if everybody else is able to read, if everyone else can spell better, the dyslexic child can develop a very poor opinion of his own abilities and self-worth. And negative feelings can grow as the child gets older. By the time the dyslexic student reaches university, Bob Burden argues that dyslexics may be more in need of counselling than specific teaching interventions (https://senmagazine.co.uk/articles/899-what-are-the-emotional-consequences-of-dyslexia.html).
Dyslexic children benefit enormously from loving support and encouragement from parents and teachers. You don’t necessarily have to produce an answer to your child’s problems. Just listening to what your child has to say and acknowledging his fears and feelings can help him. Let him know that he is not alone.