Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dyslexic by Divine Design

I struggled with school.  I looked around at everyone else making their good grades without trying as hard and here I was trying over and over again and making half the grade.  I was so afraid that people would notice my grades and think what I already knew: I was stupid.

I remember praying that God would make me good at something.  Anything.  Finally one day, when I was 17, I told the Lord I would make it my goal to encourage one person every day.  If that was all I ever did with my life, I would do that. My biggest fear was that I would live my entire life and have accomplished nothing for God throughout it.  (Encouraging ladies was the primary reason I started this blog.)  I prayed and asked God to let me be successful at encouraging someone - even if it was just one person every day.

Today, I'm hoping to encourage someone who may be struggling with dyslexia.  Or, worse, someone who has a child that is dyslexic.  (It's always harder to watch your child struggle than to go through it yourself.) You see, I found out in Bible college, that I am dyslexic.  I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I was glad to hear I wasn't stupid!  There was a reason.  I just had a different learning style.

After that I learned to cope.  In fact, something "clicked" in college and I began to make pretty good grades.  For me, anyway.  After I married and before my children were born, I taught 5th and 6th grades and I realized something: I was pretty good at it!  Did you know teachers that struggled as students make better teachers because they understand where their students are coming from? They also know the importance of not giving up!!

The hard part came when my oldest was in the 2nd grade. All of a sudden signs started to show up.  Orally she was amazing.  Bright as any student in her class!  Artistically she was fantastic.  She won blue ribbons for her drawings.  But, don't ask her to write a book report.  An oral report, yes!  But, writing it on paper?  Not a chance.

What did I do you ask? 
(Understand I am trained to teach school.  I am not trained to handle these types of learning "disabilities".  And, because I am not trained in this area, all I could do was read about it, and try to figure out what seems to help her.)
  1. I panicked!!  She was made by God for a specific reason.  She must be made to understand that He has a reason and a plan for her life and her dyslexic "issues".
  2. We prayed.  She and I prayed together that God would not let her give up, even when it seemed to hard and impossible.  And, believe me, there have been times when I've had to make her get her head back into it. We determined not to let "dyslexia" become an excuse, or a cop out.  We decided to beat it, to come out of it all stronger and more successful because of it!  (Sometimes I have to remind her of this decision.)
  3. We read orally a lot when she was younger.  She is able to read and it sounds great, she just doesn't always understand what it was she read, which doesn't do her any good at all.  Reading orally gave her practice, and it allowed her to hear what she was reading rather than just seeing.  
  4. We did as much hands on work as we could.  If she could see it, if should could act it out, or even if she could sing it, she seemed to learn it so much faster and had fun too! (Pizza and M&Ms are great way to teach fractions, a pan of boiling water helps them to see the steps of the water cycle, and most recently, we let the 6th graders hang the solar system in the class room themselves.)
  5. I asked her to "teach" me what she had just learned.  If she could explain it all back to me, then I knew she understood it.  (The problem is that she still can't get it all on paper correctly.  Her spelling is as bad as her mama's - praise God for spell check! - and her sentence structure is horrible! :) Every heard of dysgraphia??  Yeah....
  6. We backed off on spelling words.  In stead of expecting her to learn 35 spelling words in a week, we backed down to 20.  She was learning about about 12 to 15 of the 35 expected words every week.  We backed down to 20, and memorize about 5 every day.  She is now able to learn 18 to 20 of her expected 20 words and I can see where this has helped in other subjects as well.  She is more confident and willing to try again! I also allow oral spelling rather than written spelling if they are more comfortable with that. 
  7. We also give her a group of answers to chose from in subjects like science where the scientific words are harder to remember, say or spell.  For instance, if she has a quiz with 15 answers to find, we give her a list of 20 possible answers.  Most of the time she has been able to recognize the word she was looking for. 
  8. We have a specialized font to help dyslexics read more easily, and it works!!  Check it out here!!
  9. I have just started looking into essential oils for help in this area.  I will be sure to fill you in on how that goes!! If you already used them, or have other ways to help a dyslexic child, please let us know in the comments below or on my facebook wall!
We always look for ways to help and encourage.  We try to never let dyslexia become an excuse for why we can't but for how we overcame.  We may not do it like everyone else, but we own it...or we're working on that...we know how it is, and we're thankful to God for making us the way He wanted us to be.

After all, life is about God.  Not us.  Dyslexic??  Yes!  That's how God designed us! 

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