‘The tip of the iceberg, ‘my metaphor for how I see my daughter coping with her studies and Dyslexia. How I imagine she and others study within a school system that mostly does not cater for Neurodiversity, despite the rhetoric. To manage within a system that primarily does not cater to their needs, much less their strengths.
Schools are not, in my opinion, fully resourced to support each child assessed as having a Specific Learning Disability. From my experience, the support boiled down to extra time in exams, which was hugely welcome and appreciated at the time. But there was not much else.
Does it need to be this hard?
After four years, the phrase also describes what I am learning about Dyslexia and how it affects our daughter.
Even as a parent, I do not see all the angst/anxiety. The effort required to appear as though everything is alright – to mask what is going on beneath the surface.
Everyday life can be energy-sapping and exhausting if your brain processes information differently; if your brain has an alternative way of making sense of the world.
The energy-sapping, exhaustion of everyday life can happen if you think differently if your brain processes information in a different way. It might not take much for someone to suffer from overwhelm, as they struggle to organise themselves if they are easily distracted and forgetful.
I can now recognise how tired our daughter was at the end of a school day and exhausted by the end of each school year. It all makes more sense, now.
The ‘tip of the iceberg,’ for me represents the mountain of effort it takes to poke through the surface and appear as though we are coping, managing.
And this can result in limiting what we do, limiting ourselves.
So what have I learned in four years?
- I am Dyslexic, though I only came to realise this for myself two years ago.
- To work with our strengths and accept where we both struggle. Accept our Dyslexic brains.
- Dyslexia is ongoing; some struggles are daily. But then so are the things at which we excel.
- Patience, this is something that is occasionally in short supply, especially during these times. And I have no excuse to offer, even with my own Dyslexia.
- To leave enough space for her to think, to avoid filling in the blanks and not jump in with my conclusions before she has had time to gather and process her thoughts.
- Unlike me, I now understand that she needs to process her thoughts verbally. She appears to need to hear herself think.
- Coach her towards creating strategies that support her learning.
- We both need to do our work in short, sharp bursts. And then we need to move physically, for an alternate focus.
- Like me, I think she needs to prime her brain to be at her best. We can both cobble together something off the cuff if necessary, but being repeatedly asked to do this can be anxiety-inducing and exhausting.
- To coach her to start, get something down on paper even if it is not perfect. Editing and reviewing are our new best friends. Trying for perfection first time is unrealistic and stops us both in our tracks. It is a kind of procrastination and avoidance.
- We both need routines, but specifics work best for my child, not abstract ideas. We also need a clear structure – a container within which we can work, along with permission to break out at times.
- To-do lists are helpful but not so long, they overwhelm and distract.
- If you are the parent of a child with SpLD, it is probably down to you to drill down to understand what it means for your child.
But most of all, I have learned to respect and love the brains we have.
Until next time