This past summer I worked with a group of upper elementary and middle school-aged boys, all of whom have dyslexia. I love to have small groups sometimes, rather than one on one tutorials, because the kids seem to love it and even the boys develop a supportive way with each other. A big part what they love about group work, is the sense of relief and camaraderie that comes from hanging out with others who have similar frustrations and hopes. There’s a kind of emotional and social safety that comes from learning with others who enjoy ideas and creating them, but also know the sensations and frustration of getting tripped up trying to remember how to spell “Tuesday,” or other basic things about the mechanics of language, sequencing letters or numbers, and the like.
We were sitting around talking and I asked them to list and describe positive things about how their minds work, and the things about having a learning disability, such as dyslexia, that are frustrating.
Here are some of their comments:
First, Positives and “things I’m good at”:
“Fast reflexes;like when I’m riding a bike or trail running, I don’t have to think about what to do or where to go; I just seem to know.”
“I’ve noticed a lot of successful people have dyslexia.”
“Working hard makes you better.”
“If your teachers know you’re dyslexic, they can give you extra time.”
“If I have to work harder at schoolwork, maybe I’ll get used to working hard in life.”
“Because of my dyslexia, my parents and Sanford pushed me to type and use a computer. In the long run, I’m ahead of the game. I know technology and my classmates are just touching the surface of typing, and I’ve almost mastered it.”
“I’m better at making movies on my computer than just about all of my classmates.”
“It’s hard to read in front of people.”
“It’s like I stutter when I read out loud. My teacher will randomly call on people to read so I don’t raise my hand often. I also keep my head down and don’t look at her so I won’t get called on as often.”
“It’s really hard to memorize my times tables.”
“In math, sometimes with harder and more complicated math ideas I get it easier, but simple things like memorizing certain facts are harder.”
“I need to take my time. Sometimes my parents forget that when I’m rushed, I get slower.”
“Timed tests! Like multiplication ones, I never finish!!”
“I may remember what 8×4 is at night, but then the next day, it’s gone. Aurghgh!! Same thing with spelling some times.”
We have to know their experiences before we can help.