Empathy is the most important factor in identifying the needs of dyslexic children.
Empathy is the conscious act of putting yourself in another persons shoes.
Five years ago I welcomed this skill when my tearful daughter handed me a simple note that brought me so much happiness I cried tears of joy.
No Bot Tat To Me Un Da Bos
Now this would be a considered a cute attempt at writing if she were in preschool, or kindergarten, but Caroline was in the second grade, and this note was the first she’d ever written on her own.
If you look at it carefully you may be able to decipher it, if not I’ll share the only clues I had when I received the piece of notebook paper that was tightly crumpled into a ball.
All I knew was that Caroline came off the bus upset and crying. She dropped her books at the door, ran to her room, and flopped out on the bed. She refused to say what happened.
So, I went to pry it out of her sister. Unfortunately, she denied knowing anything.
After several minutes Caroline emerged from her room with with the note.
First of all, understand a lot was at stake. I knew that if I didn’t try my very best to unscramble the words Caroline would be devastated and might not trust me with something she must have worked very hard on. So I put my mind in the mind of a dyslexic.
Soon it began to make sense.
If you read most of the letters as you would say them when reciting the alphabet, and you forget about vowels, spelling rules, and phonics.
Then remember that dyslexia is a processing disorder in the brain. Sounds are easily distorted en route to their spot in memory.(the sound th may sound like da)
Now, take all this into account and you might read the note as follows:
No body talked to me on the bus.
Why nobody was talking quickly took a back seat as I read her wonderful words out loud.
Caroline’s smile truly reflected the pride she felt. She knew the relevance of that moment. Only a few weeks earlier she had expressed a fear of never being able to read or write, and now someone was reading something she wrote.
From that day forward Caroline really did her best to progress, and it worked she’s made major improvements, but every once in a while I see her struggling, so I take immediate action.
As parents we usually can tell when our children are stressed. Trips to the school nurse, disorganization, tantrums.
The stigma of of not being able to read and write as well as their peers drives many dyslexics into a world where they are constantly trying to hide their problem. This alone is stressful.
Now combine it with a desire to learn.
Imagine being an actor and being handed a script while you’re on stage. It would definitely make it difficult to learn a new skill such as juggling.
It’s up to parents and educators to use the gift of empathy to get to the core of our children’s problems.
There’s no greater display of concern than letting someone know that you want to understand how they feel.