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GUEST COLUMN: Parenting a struggling reader is a journey like no other

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Joanne Webb

I remember the feelings well. The tears resting just below the surface, ready to spring forth at any mention of my unhappy child who was struggling to read.

Joanne Webb
Joanne Webb

The daily meltdowns, poor self-esteem and academic failure left us reeling with heartbreak and worry. The phrase “back-to school” didn’t conjure up the happy anticipation of new clothes and school supplies. Instead, the words filled us with dread.

Parenting a struggling reader is a journey like no other. Toddlerhood, for the most part was uneventful, although looking back, red flags were clearly there. Once school started, it didn’t take long before teacher’s notes and concerns revealed our worst fears. Our child was failing to grasp the mechanics of reading, and carefree happiness was quickly replaced by tears and school avoidance.

Like many parents before us, we began the long process of seeking out professionals in the educational and medical community for answers. Sadly, there were few that made any sense. For those of us opting to wade through the testing and Psychological Assessment process, the only answers left were confusing disorders and conditions, each with their own acronyms, trying to explain why our child failed to read, comprehend written text or even spell!

For my oldest child, the failure to thrive in an academic environment took its toll, and we elected to home school – if only to maintain the sanity and harmony in the household. Homeschooling allowed us to spend quality time, not only to educate in a way that our child learned best, but to research and finally discover why so many perfectly healthy, creative and very bright children struggle to read.

My research into dyslexia revealed striking similarities between my child’s experience and those of others dealing with dyslexia.

I can’t tell you how relieved I felt when things finally began to make sense. For the benefit of those still on their journey, yes, it is a real condition, and yes it can be remediated. One need only examine a family’s ties to understand that it can be inherited.

Although the medical and the educational communities no longer use the term dyslexia, the National Institute of

Health and the Department of National Revenue in Canada do!

Not only do they use the term, but they also allow claims for tax purposes when using an approved remediation to educate. Who knew?

Fast forward ten years, and I am relieved to report that my children are now happily attending the universities of their choice.

Are your tears just beneath the surface? Make time to visit the website of The Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity.

There is help, and yes, there is hope.

Joanne Webb lives in Bright’s Grove and is the owner of Keys To Reading Canada

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