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When someone says: "Your kids have dyslexia? But they seem so smart!"

Categories: Learning Disabilities, Parenting

These words were said to me by a well-meaning friend yesterday. At first, I was a bit taken aback because my kids *are* smart. I suppose I've been living in my own little dyslexia-friendly bubble due to joining several parent groups. However, those words shattered the bubble into a million pieces, and I came crashing back down to reality. I was hurt.  Family GameHow many times have people thought this, but not voiced it? As I stood there with my jaw hanging open, my first reaction was defensiveness. I wanted to go into my children's higher-than-average IQ scores, and repeat that Einstein, Edison, and Spielberg all have dyslexia. As I got home, however, those words sat with me. They sat with me because I realize that for one person who voiced those words, many more think them. And we must, as a community, change that perception. Why?  Why do so many people outside of the dyslexia community believe that slow reading means a person is slow in thinking as well? Dr. Sally Shawitz from the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity is famous for telling us reading and intelligence do not always go hand in hand. As we look at her research, it's important to study her words closely. Reading and intelligence don't always go hand in hand. That "always" is important. Her research shows that in a non-dyslexic mind, in fact, those two do correlate (reading and intelligence). So, in a non-dyslexic mind, the chartsmarter you are the better you will read. Bam! That, right there, is why people who do not have a knowledge of dyslexia tend to think it means our kids "aren't smart" because for those who are not dyslexic, reading ability and intelligence do go hand in hand. However, Dr. Shaywitz goes on to say dyslexia is the exception to this rule. In a dyslexic mind, reading and intelligence absolutely do not correlate. Period. No ifs, ands or buts about it. In fact, despite reading ability, people who have dyslexia can have a range of intellectual ability. Most have average to above average IQs, and just like the general population, some have superior to very superior scores.  
So, our kids not only seem smart. They *are* smart.
  This, my friends, is a message we must shout from the rooftops, as a community, together, to raise awareness. Learning Together, Jules JulesJules Johnson is the social media community leader at Learning Ally. As the parent of two children who have dyslexia, she co-founded Decoding Dyslexia-TN in 2013 with five others in order to help raise awareness and advocate for change. Both of her children benefit from research based reading instruction, specifically Orton-Gillingham based instruction, as well as accommodations like Learning Ally's audiobooks. If you want to learn more about how Learning Ally can help you, go to www.LearningAlly.org