Article by Mr. Dimitris Filokostas (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist – Family Therapist)
Dyslexia is a general term that relates to the difficulty of the child to read words accurately, to recognize them as tones and syllables to understand them later. So, when the child starts school, it seems to be too late to read a short text and has a lot of difficulty in spelling the words. It whispers, reluctantly, or ultimately avoids dealing with everything related to writing and reading.
Usually, when learning problems arise, the teacher asks the child to the KEDDY (Centers for Differentiation, Diagnosis and Support for Special Educational Needs) or the family asks for help at a Medical Education Center or Mental Health Center. Dyslexia is a diagnosis that results from the assessment of a group of experts, among whom the main reason is the specialist pedagogue, the speech therapist and the school psychologist. Experts also decide to best address the specific learning difficulties of each child by providing advice or suggestions for specific interventions.
What attitude should a parent hold when he learns that his child has dyslexia?
I do not know whether there is a proper treatment of the problem from the point of view of the parents. From my experience, parents feel relieved by hearing such a diagnosis, because until recently they tended to think that their child is lazy, indifferent, reactive, and so on.
In addition, the diagnosis of dyslexia can cause a family shift towards the problem of school. Parents are beginning to work on what would help the child overcome his difficulty instead of chasing him to read and write.
What can parents expect to happen with the child’s difficulties at school? how can they help themselves?
Depending on the problems a child has at school, he can be trained to some extent to do better. It is important, however, to underline that children with dyslexia respond very slowly even to the most “effective” interventions. It will be helpful for the child to learn how to do it in different ways than to the commonly accepted ones. For example, he can learn from early writing on the computer with the help of electronic spell checking. Or use voice document reading as it is provided in many computer programs.
In examinations at school, the child has the right to ask for extra time to prepare to write, as well as the right to be examined verbally instead of in writing. Given the difficulties with Greek reality, it is important for parents to support the child by claiming – whenever necessary – rights resulting from such a learning disability.
It may be necessary to get help from a special educator at school. It may also be imperative for teachers to recognize that appropriate ways of teaching need to be revised and new approaches useful for both children with dyslexia and other pupils.
What should a child with dyslexia know about the problem it faces?
If my child were to be diagnosed with dyslexia, I would explain to him that many children may have difficulties in writing and reading. And that we are going to look for ways to learn how to deal with those who dare it. I would not try to explain exactly where dyslexia is due – because researchers find it hard to find a cause. And I would buy him as many books as possible so that he can read without difficulty.
What would you advise parents of a child with dyslexia to have in mind each time they are disappointed and believe that their child will not succeed?
Again from my experience, chatting with families, I understand that parents are happy when they see their child trying. And they are disappointed when their child resigns from the effort. I would like to ask: “Children usually try to do it when they draw joy and satisfaction from what they do. If you were in your position, what would it give you joy and satisfaction to keep trying? “