Well what a surpri– Wait. No one’s surprised.

A looong looong time ago, my son’s P2 teacher told us his written work lagged dramatically behind his verbal skills, and I spent the next six weeks trying to persuade myself that he couldn’t possibly be dyslexic.

In P3, his teachers agreed that while he had some of the signs of dyslexia (a real difficulty reading) he didn’t fit other things they associated with it, and so he wasn’t diagnosed.

We are now in P4, and his reading is not suddenly taking off as nice, well-meaning people suggested it might, so we ended up going to an independent educational psychologist.

Guess what! He’s dyslexic!

(I have come to terms with this in the last couple of years).

Not only is he dyslexic, but he is really quite clever, which is nice because it confirms what we thought was true — he can absorb information beautifully as long as it’s verbally presented. If you write it down, he struggles.

It’s not that he can’t read — sometimes he reads OK, and he’s still coping with the rest of his class, just about, by decoding everything he’s given from first principles. It’s painfully slow and exhausting, but it works.

And I shall skip over the guilt and the self-recrimination that comes after years of asking him why he can’t just apply himself to his reading/writing/spelling etc. when you watch your child doing his absolute best to complete a task that someone else has given him and is totally unable to work it out (word chains, in this case — where whole words are presented as a long line of letters and the child has to distinguish the whole words within them, e.g. hotchildkettledog).

He wasn’t being lazy, or awkward, or distracted. He really, truly, couldn’t do the task, no matter how hard he tried or how much he concentrated. No matter that his General Ability index (which is what they use to measure intelligence in people with specific learning difficulties) is in the 99.6th percentile.

He understands what he’s being asked to do, but he just can’t do it.

So… what next?

He does understand rules quite well and he likes things that can be made into patterns, so I think we might look at some of the reading programmes like Orton-Gillingham and see if we can use the bits that work for us.

I will say I was in two minds about getting him formally evaluated, because I didn’t want him to be pigeon-holed and labelled as learning disabled, but the diagnosis has made us all happier. We know he’s brilliant (of course) and now we have numbers that say so. It’s just this one funny mental trick of holding an abstract image in his head and associating it with a sound that’s difficult for him.

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