Excerpts from DyslexiaLand: A Field Guide for Parents of Children with Dyslexia by author Cheri Rae
Children with dyslexia who attend most public schools are square pegs forced into round holes. A one-size-fits-all, standardized approach doesn’t work for them. It wastes potential and ruins lives in the futile process of forcing them to conform to a public education system that hasn’t been built for the way they think, learn, and express themselves.
Longtime dyslexia advocates agree: School officials are not likely to tell parents what they need to know in order to help their dyslexic children. Therefore parents must adopt a strategy to get optimal assistance and learn to advocate to acquire these services.
When parents become educated about dyslexia, they are more likely to speak up, and to seek out and acquire the specialized help their children need. Unfortunately, far too often that parental education takes place after months, or more likely, years of false hopes and empty reassurances that everything will be fine—when clearly it is not.
No easy options are available for parents in search of a quality education for their child with dyslexia. A lucky few have access to public schools with enlightened leadership that have programs in place to teach students with dyslexia in the way they learn. An increasing number are turning to a variety of home-school methods and programs. Parents able to afford the high tuition can send their children to private schools designed for students with dyslexia. More affordable, but still costly, options for parents are intensive programs and both short-term and long-term specialized tutoring.
Unless parents opt for private school or home-schooling, they need to commit to hands-on management of their child’s public school education. In order to do so, parents must learn to become effective advocates. For those who may have learning differences or language barriers of their own, advocacy may not come easily.
Best advice for parents who advocate for their child is the same advice offered students:
Go to school: Learn what you don’t know.
Stay in school: Learn what you need to know.
Do your homework: Research, do the busywork, turn your papers in on time,
Work together: Figure out who you need to know, and how to work with them; develop a network of support.
Timing is everything: Know the school calendar, learn who you need to meet when for what reason.
Know the law: Research and understand the legal requirements that schools must follow to address the needs of dyslexic students.
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