Supporting dyslexic children goes beyond providing practical tools—it requires understanding and addressing the emotional strain they endure. Striking a balance between effective strategies and realistic expectations is essential. Fortunately, there have been significant advancements in the support, acknowledgement, and diagnosis of dyslexia within the UK education system. However, reflecting on personal experiences as a dyslexic individual and the tension between practical support offered and emotional understanding required I want to look how we can better support dyslexic children in creating confidence and valued learners.
In my own journey, I received an official dyslexia diagnosis at the age of 19. Prior to that, despite my parents’ persistent efforts to advocate for me with the school and local authorities, I did not meet the criteria of being “dyslexic enough” based on speech and academic performance. We encountered half-hearted assessments and dismissive comments about me as an individual.
While implementing strategies did alleviate some challenges in my studies, they did not eliminate the frustration, overwhelm, and self-doubt that plagued me. It was disheartening to hear the response, “You have the necessary support and extra time, so what more could you need?” However, it became clear that practical accommodations alone were insufficient in addressing the emotional aspects I struggled with. This left me feeling even more frustrated and burdened by the expectation to perform on par with others, as anything less was perceived as mere excuses.
Such experiences inevitably leave lasting impressions on one’s self-perception. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become acutely aware of how self-doubt continues to influence various aspects of my life, extending beyond the realm of education. Engaging with an education system that either failed to acknowledge my dyslexia or solely relied on practical strategies has significantly impacted my approach to tasks and challenges. However, it is crucial to recognise that dyslexia is not solely a source of negative reflection.
Being dyslexic has endowed me with unique skills and attributes, which I have only recently come to appreciate. My ability to think laterally, demonstrate empathy, and grasp the big picture has allowed me to support organisation’s in becoming more effective, responsive, caring, and nurturing. Throughout my career, I have consistently received high levels of positive feedback, and I attribute this success to my dyslexia, among numerous other skills and attributes. Unfortunately, recognising and embracing these qualities often comes later in life, and it is vital to address and understand these indelible impressions at an earlier stage.
Therefore, I strongly urge educational institutions to not only focus on practical strategies but also foster positive connections with dyslexia itself. Dyslexia should be seen as a multi-faceted phenomenon that brings forth many positive attributes, alongside the challenges faced by individuals, regardless of dyslexia. It is in this spirit that Word Window, as an organisation, seeks to provide a practical tool that supports dyslexic learners but also advocates that our teachers and teaching assistants keep the emotional dimensions that dyslexia can have at the forefront of their mind when interacting with children that have been diagnosed with dyslexia or displaying dyslexic tendencies.
Word Window is a valuable resource for individuals struggling with dyslexia, offering assistance in various aspects of literacy development. However, it is important to recognise that it should be used alongside a nurturing and considerate approach. At Word Window, we aim to ensure that users understand the challenges faced by dyslexic individuals. We encourage educators and specialists to incorporate Word Window into a comprehensive support system that acknowledges the emotional needs of learners.
By combining the practical advantages of Word Window with a caring and empathetic environment, we can create an inclusive educational experience for dyslexic learners. This holistic approach will enable them to flourish and unlock their full potential.
Supporting dyslexic learners requires addressing both practical and emotional aspects. The advancements made in recent years within the education system are moving in the right direction, but there is still progress to be made.