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Five Things I Learnt About Supporting My Dyslexic Daughter Through School.

Today marks a milestone.  My kids have officially left home.  Both have gone off to university and whilst they still consider our house as home, from this point onwards they simply won't be spending as much time in our home anymore.
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For myself and my wife, we currently are experiencing a number of emotions and a whole multitude of thoughts and memories.  What stands out is how proud we are of both of them and we are especially mindful of how much effort our youngest daughter (who is dyslexic) has put in to be successful through secondary education and sixth form.  She has had a challenging number of years and as a family we have all learnt a lot about how we relate to each other and for myself and my wife how we parent our children (not that they are kids anymore!).

So I thought that it would be good to share with you five things that I learnt about supporting my youngest daughter through school with regards to her dyslexia.  I hope that you will find this helpful.

1) Give time for your child to explain how they feel.

In any interaction with any other person, one of the most common mistakes is not to allow that person the time to open up and share their feelings.  We often forget that our emotions are important to us and so as a result, we need to trust others when sharing them.  Just because we are parents, we don't have the right to assume that our kids are going to open to us about how they are feeling.  Added to this, often our kids don't really know how they feel and need time to process what is going on for them.  I learnt that if I put too much pressure on my child to tell me what they were feeling(even if I knew that something was up), it was going to take a lot longer before they felt that they could open up.  Always let them know that you are there to listen but don't expect them to take you up on that straight away.

2) Don't expect them to think like you do.

Let's get this out in the open...We all THINK differently, especially dyslexics.  What might be an untidy bedroom might be an environment where everything has it's place.  I used to get really frustrated about how tidy my daughter's room was, but really, it was simply her version of tidy, not mine. Dyslexic thinking may seem illogical, unfocused or unplanned but it really boils down to difference in thinking.  We need as parents to understand the thinking first and not judge it just because we don't get it!

3) Always be patient and don't assume that you know exactly what is behind a comment.

A dyslexic teen is dealing with lots of emotional struggles.  Just because you have been snapped at, it doesn't mean that you are the cause for that anger or that it is a response personal to you.  Rise above it, think, what is it that is happening for your child / teen?

4) Encourage them to follow their heart in what they do.

A lot of parents are guilty of trying to make their children be like them.  They are not like them, they are their own people with their own personalties which will have aspects reminiscent go the parents.  Their priorities and goals are their own, encourage your child to follow their instincts and be the person that they want to be.

5) Don't bombard them with verbal instructions.

Processing information delivered verbally can be so difficult for dyslexic thinkers.  You are not going to get your instructions absorbed into the brain of your young one by verbally drilling them into their heads.  You know it and I know it.  Find another way, using something visual works well.  Postits on a wall, pictures etc.  You could ask them about which format works better for them, that's often a better way.

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