Celebrating Dyslexia

I want to take you back to the first step on my dyslexic awareness journey.  Year 1 Parents Open Day.  I walked around my son’s classroom looking at the colourful paintings on the walls and on the desks examples of the student’s written work.  First words being formed like tiny pieces of abstract art, but one was more abstract than the others. That was the moment I realised that my son was not learning at the same pace as everyone else. But when children are young they develop at different stages so it would be a couple of years before it was recommended to us that he should have an Educational Assessment. 

The Educational Assessment was an eye-opening experience. Pages upon pages of statistical data and observations were taken over a 3-hour session, which resulted in a comprehensive conclusion that Alex was dyslexic. All of his early school years struggles there in print! How he could not process information, could not identify patterns, could not decode the written word. Everything he was being asked to do at school, that he would ultimately be measured against in the classroom he struggled with. Every single aspect.

As a parent, I felt powerless. How could I help him? I had no idea how he saw the world, when he was reading what was he seeing? These first few years I spent trying to figure out how Alex could keep up with his peers. Extra handwriting, extra maths, pull out sessions and being his number one spokesperson, highlighting his dyslexia to his teachers. We spent so many of those years being told what he could not do, what his limitations were,  that I had never actually stopped to think about what he could do. 

Then as Alex entered Year 6 and the usual frustrations were emerging again in step with the start of a new academic year, I sat down to watch a TED Talk about dyslexic learners. ‘The True Gifts of a Dyslexic Mind’ by Dean Bragonier. This talk was pivotal in shifting my perspective.  It did not focus on what a dyslexic mind could not do, quite the opposite. In fact, he highlighted the fact that a dyslexic brain had many advantages, especially in creative fields; Entrepreneurship, Engineering, Architecture and the Arts. And the skills that dyslexics excel at are the very same skills that companies want for this new, ever-changing job market. Dyslexic minds are flexible, they can make obscure connections and are excellent at problem-solving, after all, they have spent most of their school years finding alternative solutions to everyday problems. And believe me when I tell you there is no better negotiator on the planet than my son! This will be a skill he can develop further in classroom debates and later in life negotiating any business deal. 

As creativity seemed key to helping Alex learn more effectively we set about finding a school that ensured that the arts played a key role in the development of learning. And Prem International School’s focus on creativity was exactly what we were looking for. Allowing Alex to be inquisitive and creative has certainly helped him on his own learning journey, and his confidence in his own ability grows daily.  

Now when I think about Alex and his dyslexia I think ahead, how his early “limitations” could actually give him limitless opportunities in the future, where he will be able to use all of his dyslexic attributes to his advantage.

 

Jane Waterman

Prem Parent & Marketing

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