Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dyslexia in Public Schools

I think the roughest part of working in a public school is not being able to directly name problems. I can't suggest that a parent get her child tested for dyslexia---I can only write that her son "experiences letter and number reversals" on his learning plan, and hope that she understands the code words for dyslexia. To write anything else would be "deleterious to the child's self-esteem."

Similarly, if I think a child has ADHD, I can't just ask the parent if she has been tested---I can just mention the child's distractability and behavior issues. To do anything else would be insulting.

To me, this is completely illogical. If a child truly has dyslexia or ADHD, we are doing them no good by gently sidestepping the issue. They won't get the help they really need, and that's when their self-esteem will really suffer. It suffers when they try so hard, only to fail time and time again. It suffers when they see just how easily everyone else can read a page of information, or pay attention in class, and they can't. They'll start to blame themselves, and feel like they are failures. They'll stop trying to do better, since it never helps.

Imagine the difference a simple diagnosis could make! They'd realize that they aren't stupid, or defective, or any of the other labels they (and other kids) put on themselves. They'll learn strategies that will really help them, instead of muddling through this on their own.

This just goes to say, that just maybe---on my last day---I may gently mention to the children's parents that their children be tested---self esteem and insults be damned.

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