I wrote this for The Write Practice today – a short piece about my wonderful daughter and how she was affected by Dyslexia.
I sat in the village hall with all the other proud parents, on hard plastic chairs, watching two little girls singing on their own. They were a comical sight really – one small and round, one tall and lean, wearing their black Stage School t-shirts and leggings. They were singing ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele, their voices loud but shaking slightly, not able to disguise the nerves they were obviously feeling.
I had salty warm tears pouring down my face. I felt kind of embarrassed because no-one else was crying as much as I was, but one of those little girls was my youngest daughter. Two years previously she would never have done anything like this. Two years previously she wouldn’t have even wanted to sit in the front row of the audience – “I don’t want anyone looking at me!” she used to say.
My daughter has Dyslexia. And yes, it’s not a life threatening condition or an illness where one has to have treatment or medication, but for her it is a huge stigma. Especially in a family where her mother and older sister eat books and love to write. She just wanted to be like everyone else.
It took quite a long battle with the school to get them to recognise she was having problems. I realised when she was in year 2 that things were not quite right, but her teacher just told us our daughter had some mild difficulties that didn’t require any extra help and she’d soon catch up. My daughter hated school that year. Her friends were all reading and writing. She thought she was ‘stupid’. Her worst experiences were when they were expected to read aloud to a group of class mates. You can imagine how humiliating it must have been for her to have to stand there in front of her peers and not be able to make sense of the words on the page.
My daughter is beautiful. Yes, I know what you are thinking – I’m biased, I would think that, but we get comments about this all the time from friends, acquaintances and people we have just met. “She could be a model!” they say. I tell her this all the time, but she can’t see it. She has other qualities too – such determination! If she decides she is going to do something, then she is going to do it, come what may. Her sister is two years older, but my youngest daughter was the first to ride a bike without stabilisers, the first to learn to swim. I’ll never forget the first time she swam under water. It was in the middle of a hot summer, and they were in the little outdoor pool at the school. I was stood watching on the side, wishing I could be in the cool water with all the children. My daughter’s best friend wanted to show me what she had learned on holiday, and ducked under the surface of the pool, and then my daughter, not to be outdone said “I can do it too!” and flung herself down. My heart was in my mouth, I thought she was going to drown, but seconds later up she popped, a huge grin on her face, and then she did it again and again. There was no stopping her from that moment on.
It was Year 3 when we finally had a breakthrough at the school. She had a wonderful teacher that year, one of the best I have ever met. A large, solidly built rugby player of a man, loud and enthusiastic and great fun. He had a knack for bringing out the best in his pupils, and was always very encouraging. We told him of our concerns and a few weeks later he came back to us with an apology. “Yes, you are right, she does have dyslexia,” he told us, “we are going to put in some extra support for her.”
Her confidence soared that year. Suddenly she was asking for speaking parts in school plays and telling us she wanted to join the Stage School her sister attends on Sunday mornings.
Two years later there we were, watching her singing and dancing and acting in front of an audience and loving it. I’ve never been so proud.
- Learning with dyslexia doesn’t come easy (rapidcityjournal.com)
- Steven Spielberg discusses his dyslexia for the first time ever..By Alicia Lutes (johndwmacdonald.com)
- Guest voice: Dad’s send letter to daughter with dyslexia (goerie.com)