This Is What Dyslexia Looks Like

What dyslexia can look like

Stacey Cavaglieri volunteers at Headstrong Nation and lives in San Diego with her two dyslexic children and her husband. As a dyslexic herself she knows very well the journey from struggling student to successful adult.

Chances are when you talk with someone about dyslexia they might say something about seeing backwards. Sadly this misconception could not be further from the truth. Dyslexia is not a vision problem, but a phonological processing issue. What this means is dyslexic people may have difficulty associating letters to the sounds they make. This affects the decoding process of reading, comprehension and fluency.

For many, dyslexia not only affects reading and spelling, but it also impacts the entire writing process. It is true that many dyslexics may flip letters while reading and writing, but this is caused by how the dyslexic brain is processing the information on the page.

Have you ever wondered what dyslexia looks like? Here is an example of what dyslexia looks like for my seven-year old son Ryan, who was recently identified as dyslexic. Ryan is in second grade and is a bright, energetic, fun-loving kid who loves to make people laugh. Even though eye reading is challenging for Ryan he loves ear reading with his IPad. Outside of school Ryan loves Tae-kwon-do and is a master at all things Minecraft. He is also very passionate about Cub Scouts.

Ryan used to enjoy school; that was until second grade when writing has become the focus. Ryan has always had trouble with writing. As early as preschool he was showing signs of dyslexia. He never enjoyed drawing or coloring as a preschooler and learning to write his name was very challenging. As you can see from this picture Ryan is having a tremendous difficulty getting the words out on the page. Not only is he wrestling with spelling, he is fighting with staying on the line, he is dealing with spacing, punctuation, and capitalization. All of this is happening while he struggles to hold the idea long enough in his mind to get it on the paper. Perhaps it might seem like he is not trying very hard by the type of work he is producing, but as his mom I know just how difficult it was for him to get this on the paper. I know how hard he tried and I am proud.

It is heartbreaking for a parent to see their child hate school and cry but these kids are the bravest, strongest kids I have ever met. Dyslexic kids know where they stand against their peers but they head off to school everyday knowing how painfully challenging it is for them yet they endure. I know that with the proper support Ryan will not just endure, he will reach any goal he sets his mind to.

Stacey Cavaglieri and her son Ryan

As parents we all experience endless hours of worrying if our children are going to make it. I am here to tell you with the right support, positive strength based attitude your child will find success. Remember the days are long but the years are fast. A few keys to success, first find your community, you’re not alone. Second tell your story. Telling your story might be the hardest part, but by far the most beneficial. If you are a dyslexic parent your story is a critical piece to helping your child accept who they were meant to be. Even if you are not a dyslexic parent, showing your children your own weakness will speak volumes to them. Lastly, providing your child with the right accommodations not only provides a ramp into learning, but also boosts their self-confidence. If we can do these things our children will not only survive but thrive.

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