Compensating dyslexics, who put in heaps of time and effort, so that they don’t ‘seem’ dyslexic, are less likely to be noticed – or supported – in school.
However, there are lots of ways for switched-on parents to make sure their child gets the help they need.
1. Get a formal diagnosis – and special allowances
Parents may find that their child’s school is less willing to devote special educational needs resources to a child who’s not visibly struggling. If this is your situation, it may be worth paying for a private dyslexia assessment – one carried out by an Educational Psychologist or Specialist Assessor.
A formal diagnosis entitles your child to allowances in exams and in the classroom. Getting these allowances, including extra time in exams, helps to put your dyslexic child on a level playing field with his peers.
2. Help your child to understand their dyslexic weaknesses – and strengths
Think a dyslexia diagnosis is just about getting extra time in exams? Think again.
Often, just the fact of the diagnosis can boost a compensating dyslexic’s self-esteem. Suddenly, she understands why her brain works the way it does – why she struggles in some areas and excels in others.
If your dyslexic child doesn’t see the ‘upside’ of dyslexia, help her to get to grips with the creative problem solving abilities that emerge from dyslexia and the advanced visuo-spatial awareness that many dyslexics enjoy.
3. ‘You are not alone’
This simple yet powerful message is incredibly important for dyslexics. Make sure your child understands that he is now part of an amazing club of talented dyslexic people, both famous and non-famous.
Make an effort to find dyslexic role models and mentors for your child. He’s likely to respond positively to relatives, friends, or teachers sharing stories of dyslexic issues and their coping strategies.
4. Pick your battles
Parents understandably want to help their child with schoolwork, but if you push too hard, you risk wearing out and alienating her.
Some things are worth working on over and over again (see: ‘missing pieces’, below), but other things may be better left in her homework bag, with a note telling the teacher that it was too hard for her current level of learning.
5. Figure out the ‘missing pieces’ in their learning
Many dyslexics struggle in school because they missed out on a certain ‘basics’. He may put on a good show, yet struggle with advanced maths. The root of his trouble is that he never fully understood fractions (for example), because it wasn’t taught to him in a dyslexia-friendly way.
Filling in these blanks in knowledge can be the key to a dyslexic child making incredible progress. Finding a good tutor to help with this process is recommended for busy parents.
There’s a misconception that tutors only help children who are bottom of the class. In fact, a few sessions with a tutor who understands dyslexia can be a huge boost, even for those who are doing well in school. Especially since a compensating dyslexic may only seem like he’s ‘doing well’…
6. Help them to look at learning differently and develop strong study skills
A dyslexic child is no less able than a non-dyslexic child – she just needs to learn to play to her strengths, rather than aggravating her dyslexic weaknesses.
Technology can make a huge difference. Speech-recognition software allows you to write an essay simply by talking. Audio books and YouTube lectures can be preferable to reading books, while text-to-speech software can read aloud any document to you.
Dyslexic children often succeed by putting more emphasis on preparation, rather than relying on memory to ‘wing it’ in exams. And a compensating dyslexic, who’s used to working harder than his peers, usually has exactly the right mindset to do all the work that’s needed to allow her to fly.
Think your child might be ‘secretly’ dyslexic? Check out my 6 signs of a compensating dyslexic.
Is your child a compensating dyslexic? Share your story (and top tips) in the comments below.