Take a deep breath. And another. Roll back your shoulders, gently tilt your head from side to side. Breathe.
I know when you wake up in the morning, before your feet even touch the ground, that you’re stealing yourself for the day ahead. The weight of the dyslexia diagnosis weighs as heavily on your shoulders as it does on your child’s. And the helplessness that you feel when you watch him struggle? It goes straight to your heart and slices you into a million pieces, doesn’t it? I know, Mama, I know.
You want to scream at the injustice of this bright child, this incredibly smart, quick-witted, kind-hearted, perfect child, being dealt a blow that creates such struggle. You want to just shake those who say he “isn’t trying hard enough” or that “dyslexia is just reversing letters.” You want to put them in his shoes for the time it takes him to read just one single sentence in a book that’s two grade levels below his. You want them to feel the frustration so that they’ll finally, finally understand how much effort it takes and what a blow it is to the self-esteem when uneducated comments are thrown out so recklessly.
And then you remember that once, before you knew, before it was all clear and there was a diagnosis, that you used to tell him to try harder. To stop fooling around. To focus. To just read.
Oh, Mama. I know. I KNOW. And that ache that those memories cause you? It never fades completely, but the voice of it quiets as you fight for him to get the services he needs.
And so the years go by with daily tutoring and he progresses through the steps of his program. You see the progress in small ways and big. Like the time at the grocery store when he read the package and when he reads the birthday card his grandparents sent him in the mail. You see the confidence seep back in and you reassure him and pump him up with every ounce of encouragement and love you can muster. And it’s a lot, because you believe in him so completely. And your faith and love? It’s enough to help him believe, Mama.
Because one day, as you sit listening to his tutoring session, he picks up his social studies book and reads a random page at his tutor’s request. And he reads it fluently and with comprehension. He reads it, Mama!
You wipe away the tears from your eyes when he comes to tell you he’s done, because this moment right here makes everything better. He’s proud of himself and he’s confident in his ability. And your heart is pieced back together, because you helped make this right.
Mama, no matter where you are on this journey of a dyslexia diagnosis, know that you’re not alone. You will get through this. And your child? Oh, Mama, your child is going to do just fine. How can he not when he has your love and encouragement and unending belief in him?
Stay strong. Breathe deeply. And remember that a dyslexia diagnosis does not define who your child is or limit his potential. You will both get through this. I promise.
*I am the proud mom of a severely dyslexic 8th grade teenager who just completed his Wilson Reading Tutoring program in October 2015. He was diagnosed in third grade and began the program in April of 2010. His hard work, focus, and dedication to learning how to read made all the difference. Dyslexia will never hold him back.