My Turn: A father’s hope after daughter’s dyslexia diagnosis

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Father and family physician Dr. Travis Harker wrote about his daughter’s diagnosis of dyslexia in the Concord Monitor.

He said that three years ago, his daughter began struggling with reading and keeping up with classmates. After additional testing, his family found out that she had dyslexia, and they were able to get the support she needed:

A multi-sensory approach to reading instruction called Orton-Gillingham taught my daughter (and me!) that working smarter is more important than working harder. I didn’t know it then, but the brains of people with dyslexia process writing in a unique way. That makes it a challenge for them to decode the letters on the page.

Within three weeks of starting specialized reading instruction, my daughter went from saying “You can’t make me do it anymore!” to “I think I actually might like reading!” She learned strategies for efficiently and effectively making sense of the letters and words on the page. And she was beginning to see the results of her hard work.

I was thrilled that she was making progress and enjoying school again, but I was left with a tremendous sense of guilt. I’m a family doctor. Yet with all my medical training, I had somehow completely missed that she has dyslexia. Why did it take me so long to figure out that “just working harder” was the wrong approach? Had I made things worse by putting so much pressure on her? Was it too late for her to catch up? These questions weighed on me as I worried about her future. It wasn’t until the middle of fifth-grade that I finally let go of my guilt.

My daughter’s love of learning returned – and I met numerous other families who had similar stories. Some call dyslexia an invisible learning disability because it’s hard to see the signs and is often misunderstood. Knowing that I wasn’t alone helped me immensely…

I have been able to say goodbye to guilt through getting my daughter the right diagnosis, finding her the correct teaching approach and knowing that things will work out for her. Parents in similar situations can ask for more testing, find the right teaching approach for your child and talk with others. I found my support community at Understood.org, a place I turn to when I have questions about my daughter’s diagnosis.

Read the full piece here.