Dear Education Ministers Tonight my heart is breaking because my beautiful son will not write a Red Letter. We were all set to do it – w...

Anne's Red Letter

21:15:00 My Red Letter Dyslexia Awareness 0 Comments

Dear Education Ministers

Tonight my heart is breaking because my beautiful son will not write a Red Letter.

We were all set to do it – we had even planned out all the content in a mind map with his wonderful and supportive tutor. But he had homework tonight that was too hard for him to contemplate. It wasn’t completed today, so had to be done tonight. It was hard not just due to his dyslexia, but because of his dysgraphia, which makes it difficult for him to organise his thoughts, especially under pressure.

It was a one paragraph answer.

Tonight my heart is breaking because he has cried himself to sleep. “Stupid dyslexia. Why do I have to have it? There’s no point writing that letter. No-one is going to care anyway.”

Tonight my heart is breaking because at the age of six, my son told me he must be dumb. He didn’t understand why all of the other kids could read and he couldn’t.

Tonight my heart is breaking because my son tells me he doesn’t like himself. He is so gifted in so many ways. But he can’t see it. All he can see tonight is his dyslexia.

We were lucky – our Prep teacher had done a course in Phonological Awareness. From age five, we knew something wasn’t quite right. We had extra help at school, then we had an external tutor, who we had to see outside of school hours because the school would not support the tutor working in “their” time.

We moved states. New school. New teacher who didn’t even know what dyslexia was. Principal who said in a haughty tone “How do you KNOW it’s dyslexia?” Finally we had testing via the Australian Dyslexia Association – and at age nine, a confirmed diagnosis. Luckily the school has been quite supportive. But still, we have to pay for an external tutor and have lessons on top of school time, because the school will not support the tutor working in “their” time.

My son has come a long way. But when he reads aloud he stumbles and stutters over the words. I gently correct him and help him decode the words as we’ve been taught – explicit teaching via our skilled tutor. How on earth he has the bravery to ever read in front of his class I don’t know. I know his fear – I’ve seen it. I’ve coaxed him out the door. Handled countless school refusal days. Escorted him to school, got home, closed the door and sat on the floor and cried.

Despite everything he keeps on trying. Every night, he reads in bed to himself. “I read 40 pages mum!” he tells me.

My son is still reading and spelling two years behind where he should be. And we start High School next year.

Education Ministers… please recognise that dyslexia is very real. It causes bright, caring, inquisitive kids like my son to doubt their abilities and question their future. It causes parents untold stress and fear and pain. It costs us thousands of dollars in assessment and tutoring because our schools can’t cater for their needs. Not to mention the stress for parents who cannot afford the tutoring.

In my son’s letter plan, his last line was the most powerful, so I will borrow it and use it as mine.

“Please don’t give up on us.”

Anne

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