Conversation with an 11 year old who has dyslexia

Every now and then as parents and children, we get a moment to just breathe. And talk. The following is a deep conversation I had with my middle school aged son, and his experience, posted word for word.

“How is middle school going? I mean, really. Is it okay? I know middle school can be hard. It was tough for me.” 

“Well, mom, this is going to sound weird, but I often feel like everyone else is in 2nd period and I’m still in 1st. Does that make sense?” 

“You mean you feel like you’re behind?” 

“Yes. Sometimes by the time I’m finished scanning my assignment into my technology, my teacher says the time is up. And I’m not done yet.” 

“Hmm. Is this every class?” 

“Yes, all of them.” 

“Okay, I’ll see if we can maybe do something to help with that.” 

“Well, it’s not really every class. It’s mostly English. Science is good. Actually, my science teacher almost gives me too much time to finish. Ha.” 

“Haha! Well, you do change to a different English class in January. Will you let me know if that helps?” 

“Yeah. I feel really good about all of the reading progress I’m making this year. But, hey, mom, guess what? I did find out how to stop kids from asking me to read out loud!” 

“Kids ask you to read out loud?” (Thinking in my mind that kids really should not be asking him to read out loud. Deciding if I should talk to his teachers.)

“Yeah, sometimes a kid will read out loud, and they are supposed to pick another kid. But I figured out that if I just put in my earbuds (audiobook), then they won’t call on me. They have realized I’m already reading.” 

“That’s pretty smart! You are okay with that?”  (Encouraged by his creative thinking and self-advocacy. Maybe I don’t need to go to the teachers on this one.) 

“Yeah, it’s great! I really like my technology. It helps a lot.” 

“And I’m proud of you for knowing how to use it so well. Your technology is like my glasses, it helps you “see” when there is a barrier. Speaking of, tell me something …when you read, like ….do the words look like they do for everyone else? I know that is a weird question. I guess you don’t really know what words look like for others. And I’ve read the science* on it, but I want to know your experience. Like, do they move or anything?” 

“If I look at the word for longer than a minute, then the front and back of the word start to wobble. And sometimes the middle will totally disappear.” 

“That has to be really hard. I know I would struggle if words did that to me. Tell me this, do numbers ever do that?” 

“No, never numbers.” 

“Do drawings?” 

“No, but mom, drawings sometimes are in like 3D. Like, I can literally see them coming off the page.” (Note: He’s a great artist.)

“Wow! That’s cool!” 

“You know that dinosaur I drew last week? I could see it. It was coming off the page in 3D, and that happens a lot.” 

“That’s so neat! So, can I ask you something? Do you feel different in school?” 

“Oh yes, all of the time. But, mom, if I could be dyslexic or not dyslexic. I would choose dyslexic.” 

“Really? Why’s that?” 

“Because I’m different. But I want people to know that different doesn’t mean bad. Different can mean good, actually. People with disabilities are different, and that should be okay. People need to know that.” 

“You are brilliant, son. You need to know that.”

“Thanks, Mom. I love you.” 

“Love you too, kid.” 

*Note: From all current peer-reviewed scientific research, dyslexia is not visual. At all. My son has had vision tracking tests, and they all come out above average. I asked him these questions because I wanted to know his experience. Two things should be noted – first, he says that words wobble “after I look at them for a minute.” Scientists theorize this happens because our kids are concentrating so hard on letters that simply don’t make sense to their brain. Try staring intently at something for a few moments, and let your mind zone out, and notice how it can go fuzzy or even double up? Nothing is wrong with your vision. That happens when we concentrate on something too hard. Also, I want to note that numbers do not move on him at all. There is a reason I asked him that. If it was a vision issue, common sense tells me that numbers would move too. And the drawings? Well, now that’s just cool. Ha! He is incredibly artistic and imaginative. His pediatrician has commented on his imagination since he was 2. I have a really gifted kiddo!

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