Dyslexia is not a Disease


“Dyslexia is not a disease!”

That is one of my favorite quotes from my favorite book about dyslexia: The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss. The subtitle of the book is A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning

And that is the point I want to encourage you with today. It is critically important to renew your child’s confidence and love of learning before the damage done by perceived failure is irreversible. I would like to add that dyscalculia is not a disease, either, and it is just as important for kids to not feel “dumb at math.”

Very few children start out hating school. It is a learned aversion. Most preschoolers are curious and active and drive us crazy with all their questions. They want to know how everything works and why it works that way and what will happen if I do this or that with it. Their life is all about learning.

Then we send them to this wonderful place that is supposed to be all about learning, and they do not do well. What they do begin to learn is that they are not as smart as all their friends. In spite of their best efforts, they are constantly told they need to try harder. They conclude they are not smart, in spite of what mom and dad and teachers keep telling them, and begin taking on an “I don’t care” attitude because it feels better to not care than to be stupid.

Ben talks in his book about recognizing that Dyslexia (or any learning difference) as not a disease to be cured, but a difference to be understood. These students can learn if taught in the way their brains can process. They are often the most creative, out-of-the-box thinkers, with strong inter-personal intelligence. That’s a recipe for a successful entrepreneur, if one’s self-esteem survives its journey through the education system.

The antidote to a crushed spirit is recognition of what is actually going on followed by appropriate intervention and accommodations to empower the child to learn, and express his or her learning in a way that makes sense to them. Along with that, it is critical to find their area or areas of giftedness, and feed those passions and allow them opportunity to shine.

You can read much more on this topic in Ben’s book, and I highly recommend it. (It is also available in audio book form.)