Mystery solved: dyslexia

I decided finally to google it. The answer came as a relief. We had been waiting for a teacher to raise the question, but I had grown tired of waiting.

For two years, my twins had struggled to keep pace with their peers in reading. They were thoughtful, clever, often articulate kids—but matching letters on a page to words you said out loud did not come naturally. We had done all the usual things—talked about letters and sounds, gone to pre-school, read books day and night, practiced writing letters and words, read two books every day in the summer between kindergarten and first grade.

They have always loved books.

At the beginning of first grade, I asked two friends to pray daily for them and their reading. I had exhausted my own prayers and needed reinforcements. I hired a tutor to work with them each once a week. The school assigned them to see the reading specialist two times a week. We had meetings with the school. We asked questions. Everyone was perplexed by their very slow progress.

The teachers kept promising that if they did Raz-kids, that if we read the assigned books every day, that if we kept at it, everything would fall into place. We wouldn’t believe the progress they would make by the end of the year!

Yet the breakthrough never came.  The weeks passed and their peers left them further behind. They noticed. They became self -conscious and anxious, not wanting to go to school at all. Their anxiety mirrored my own. There were stomach aches and headaches on their part and endless strategizing on mine.

As soon as I pulled up the first list on google, the answer was clear. They were dyslexic. One was a textbook case, in fact. They not only had the classic signs (difficulty breaking words into their component parts; particular struggle with small sight words), but also the accompanying strengths (great imagination; strong memory for stories read to them).  I learned that our school district is dismissive of dyslexia as a category, so we paid for a detailed, private assessment. The results were just as we had come to expect.

Finally, we had the answer to our questions and our prayers. This, of course, was not the way we had wanted our prayers answered, at least not originally. Our struggle had continued so long, though, and the pain had been so unremitting, that any answer became acceptable. In the end, knowing the name of the problem was much preferable to wandering in a fog of dread and uncertainty.

It is hard to fight an enemy you cannot name. While it is not accurate to call dyslexia an enemy, it is certainly an obstacle in learning to read. And we could not surmount that obstacle until we understood its contours. Now we do, and we have a great plan for helping our girls become capable and confident readers. (The research is conclusive and helpful: there is a clear way to teach dyslexic students to read.)

Doing our favorite family pastime a few years ago: hanging out in a bookstore

Since neither Rick nor I are dyslexic, this whole experiences has been a surprise. Of all the things we were ready to watch for in our kids (anxiety, flat feet, genuis wit), dyslexia was not on the list. Yet we are learning to embrace it. Some research indicates that dyslexia may simply come from being highly right-brained. When you look at the list of famous people who are dyslexic, it is clear that thriving is possible. That it likely comes with super powers as well as deficits.

It may be years before my girls fully discover their super powers, and those years are likely to contain struggle to get along in a system that was not designed for them.  I trust there is purpose in both the struggle and the dyslexia itself. God created them just as they are, with unique plans for them and their gifts. And His plans are always better (and more interesting) than mine.

Prayers and research led us here. And Jesus will lead us forward. I’m counting on it.


©2016, Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things

13 thoughts on “Mystery solved: dyslexia

  1. “Of all the things we were ready to watch for in our kids (anxiety, flat feet, genuis wit)” – HA!

    I sure hope they get your genius wit. And yes, naming the problem can be (is!) so important. Glad you found an answer so that you can teach your girls in a way designed for them.


  2. Pat

    You have been a great mom in pursuing this until you got answers. I am confident you and your resources will bring them around the corner and they (and you) will be thrilled with the progress!


  3. Lindsay Scott

    “I trust there is purpose in both the struggle and the dyslexia itself. God created them just as they are, with unique plans for them and their gifts. And His plans are always better (and more interesting) than mine.” I am going to hold onto that statement and repeat it again and again (with ADHD substituted for dyslexia.) I am so happy that you now have a name for what was causing the girls to struggle and methods to help them move forward. I will pray for both you and the girls, as I know that the path forward is never straightforward or as easy as some make it out to be. In this age of digital information, there seems to be so much information out there, and yet, I am still finding there is a lot more theoretical than practical. C’s diagnosis gives me a name for what could be causing a lot of his issues, but it has been very difficult to find a way forward to help him succeed in a traditional school environment, and even more difficult to find ways to help him forward socially. This condition seems to touch so many parts of his life and it can be terrifying when you focus on it too much. I need to grasp on to your statement above – that God created him with unique plans for him and his gifts. I need to remember that before I spiral into the vicious cycle of pleading/bribing/punishing/screaming. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, we have considered whether Isaiah is dyslexic due to a few factors (as my dad is as well as one of my cousins) though the jury is still out… My dad loves reading now so it obviously wasn’t a barrier forever.


    1. We saw signs in pre-school, but didn’t know what we were looking for and didn’t realize then that we had it in the family. (It turns out we do!) They can actually do intervention with pre-schoolers now, so you may want to look into getting him assessed. It might save a lot of pain later.


  5. Thanks so much for writing this!!!!!

    I have ADD, and it was officially called out by a medical professional last week during a counseling therapy session. Truthfully, I was thrilled! I always knew it, took some highly legitimate online assessments that verified it, but as an adult, I knew it would be pretty expensive to get any assessment done for something that didn’t completely keep me from succeeding.

    Is ADD always fun? No, but honestly I wouldn’t trade it for a second. I’m creative, I think outside the box, I have the ability to see details and connections that wouldn’t come naturally otherwise, etc., etc. I would totally all the advantages that come with it that I never want to take meds to make it go away. Now, I don’t have the “H” part of it, and some people may find that difficult for sure, but I’ll take that part of my brain as it is.

    My husband’s family has several members with dyslexic or dyslexia-related issues. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia are all there. The ones who’ve worked with and around these issues (despite not having the interventions that have come up just within the last 10 years) have been able to thrive in their personal and professional lives.

    I’m so thankful you have figured this out. It’s NOT too late for your girls (everyone can improve their reading/writing in some way at any age), and they will certainly get where God wants them to go.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thank you for sharing. Yes, this seems to be the prevailing sentiment among adults with ADHD and dyslexia – I am so happy for my brain and the way it works. I wouldn’t trade it.
      I really do think these different learning styles come with super powers. Sometimes it just takes awhile for those to emerge.


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