11 Lessons I've Learned From Working With My Dyslexic Students

Uncategorized Oct 21, 2019

1.  Never give up. You can not progress if you give up. Struggle isn’t a sign to stop but to keep going. Get help if you need it.  Find someone who can teach in a way that makes sense to you, and let them help guide you through the struggle.  Those who continue to persevere through difficulties are the ones who succeed.

2.  Difficult does not mean impossible. Just because something is a challenge for you to learn doesn’t mean that you can’t learn it.  If you break it down and practice it for long enough, you can learn anything!  Sometimes you end up being even better at it than the people who were born with more natural skills for it because you worked harder at it than they did and became even better in the process!

3.  There's more than one kind of "smart". You can be extremely smart and still struggle to learn certain things, particularly those that require rote memorization. You might be a great thinker, inventor, mathematician, actor, psychologist, etc.  You don't have to be "smart" in everything to be smart!  Most kids who struggle with dyslexia are extremely intelligent!

4.  Being "just like everyone else" is overrated.  Differences come with gifts.  You might struggle in school but rock in art, music, sports, creative writing, or personal relationships.  Everyone has a different but important path to walk.  Find your strengths and capitalize on them!

5.  Attitude is everything! If you think you can and keep trying until you actually can, you will; if you think you can’t and continue to give up when the going gets tough, you probably won’t.  Those who keep a positive attitude, listen carefully, and put in the work tend to progress the quickest and be happiest while doing so!  Those with poor coping skills and bad attitudes make learning frustrating and end up taking so much longer to succeed than is necessary.

6.  What you do when people aren’t looking makes the biggest difference!  It’s not about simply performing when asked; it’s committing yourself and your private time to practicing new, improved skills until you have mastered them, regardless of how long that takes.  Those who review, practice, and utilize their new skills when people aren’t around are the ones who move the fastest forward. 

7.  There is no replacing/getting around practice.  You might “know” something in your head, but only dedicated and consistent practice forms the muscle memory you need to be truly successful with it.  Practice, practice, practice...even when you don't feel like it or want to!

8.  Every struggle exists for a reason and comes with a gift. You might not understand your struggles when you are in the midst of them, but they help mold and shape you into the person you were meant to be.  My struggles enable me to understand others who struggle.  They have given me great reasoning/decoding skills which have allowed me to not only teach dyslexics to read but to create a program that others can use to teach dyslexics to read.  I might not be able to memorize easily or remember much of what I have learned, but I can teach anything I know, and I can create things no one else has ever thought of!  Your struggles are meant to make you weaker; they are meant to make you more powerful!

9.  There is always someone who can help you with your struggles.  You don't have to tackle life alone when it is challenging.  Find someone who can help.  There is always someone who has not only faced your struggle and gotten through it, but who can help as well.  Keep looking until you find him or her. Not every teacher or tutor knows how to help struggling readers and writers, but the right ones will.  Look for teachers who understand and specialize in helping dyslexics.  They should not just “teach phonics” but truly understand the code behind our language.

10.  Perseverance pays off.  Growth takes time, especially when you are learning a whole new way of doing something. You might want a fix NOW, but new skills take time to build, especially when you’ve been reinforcing bad or incorrect habits for a long time.  The greatest results come from being willing to listen and to continue trying even when it seems like the frustration will never end.  Perseverance is the will to continue even when you are tired of the struggle.  It’s what allows you to finally succeed. 

11.  Behind every successful (but once struggling) dyslexic is a parent or family member who insisted on getting help.  Don’t wait for your child to “grow out of it”. “More practice” only helps if you are doing the right kind of practice.  Get help as soon as you notice a problem.  Backwards letters, trouble learning and/or remembering sight words, struggling to learn common spelling patterns, difficulty learning how to tie shoes, problems telling time, and trouble learning math facts are all signs of dyslexia.  The best time to intervene is as soon as you notice a problem; the next best time (if you haven’t done anything about it yet) is now. 
 
Wishing you all the best and much success,

Katy Huller

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