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Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic!

"Strengths of Dyslexia" continued
There are many assistive materials to help you and your child discover their strengths. I highly recommend the website understood.org (11). The website madebydyslexia.org ​(12) also ennumerates specific strengths of the dyslexic brain. ​​​​The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, by Ben Foss, has invaluable insights into the strengths of those with dyslexia.

It is well worth the time to sit down with your dyslexic child (or each of your dyslexic children!) to help them uncover their specific strengths. Remember the model above shows a "sea of strengths" surrounding one weakness (or two, or three). Don't let them sit in the boat on top of their weakness! Throw them a lifeline to their strengths. Many dyslexics must wait until after school to flourish, when they're no longer forced to squeeze into the confines of formal education—like square pegs in round holes. There is so much else they could be accomplishing, not the least of which is feeling good about themselves and their abilities.

It is of the utmost importance to help a dyslexic find their strengths, and especially the older they get. Depending on how many years they have been in school and how many accommodations they have (or have not) received, they may have had many blows to their self-esteem. If they already believe they are stupid, lazy and hopeless; if they believe they can never learn; if their anger, shame and humiliation is great—it is crucial that they obtain a new focus and tap into the abundance of strengths they already possess. Unfortunately, it is possible that they are completely unaware of any strengths, and even unwilling to consider that they could be "good" at anything. The stigma of being unable to read runs deep.

But each one has endowments in areas such as personal strengths, including character, hobbies and problem-solving skills; social strengths, such as making friends and keeping them, being able and willing to comfort others, resisting peer pressure, being able and willing to apologize when needed; language strengths, such as enjoying being with people and being able to carry on a good conversation, being a good storyteller, and learning the words to new songs; literacy strengths (yes! literacy!) including connecting what they read with their personal experiences, making predictions about 'what happens next' in a story, remembering details and retelling stories after reading them; math and logic strengths, including doing math in their head, solving puzzles and word problems and playing strategy games; and other strengths including drama, music, dance, sports, art, and community service—so allow them to focus on what they are good at, even while they are struggling to learn to read, spell, write, and comprehend.​ (11, 12)

More About Strengths and Next Steps

Remembering that learning differences fall on a spectrum, from mild to moderate to severe to profound, you suspect your child may have dyslexia, ADHD or a learning disability. Most importantly, time is of the essence. Learning disabilities don't go away; some may improve over time, and many children learn how to compensate for their weaknesses. Most children, however, fall so far behind that they don't catch up; they leave high school with a 3rd- or 4th-grade reading level, or drop out. So what's next?

Information regarding Next Steps can be found on PowerPoint slides here. There are eight slides in this presentation: 1.Next Steps; 2. Find Your Child's Strengths; 3. Build Winning Attitudes; 4. Time Is Short; 5. IEP & 504 Accommodations; 6. Advocacy; 7. Support Your Child Socially & Emotionally; and 8. Resources.