The Masters of Disguise

Our oldest son has Dyslexia. 

We didn’t realise until he started school and even then he managed to mask it for a long time.

Apart from often being wonderfully  creative they are also masters of Disguise… They are chameleons. 

They can adapt, copy and imitate. 

Genius really. Often, they have adapted to our way of reading and writing, of learning and processing data so well that their learning disability goes unnoticed for many years. 

I saw a clip recently of actress Keira Knightly, retelling the story of when her parents realised she had Dyslexia.  It was like hearing myself talking about our oldest.  

She would ask mum or dad to read the book and she would listen carefully, memorising each bit and when it was her turn to “read” she relied on her memory. Extraordinary. (And a good memory is certainly a good trait to have if you’re an actor!) 

This is how we started suspecting Jackson might be dyslexic.  The memorising bit.

Jackson never seemed interested in reading or writing and struggled with B, P, S, 5 and the other usual suspects. He could just about manage to write his name.  I wasn’t too worried initially.  I mean, he was a baby in my eyes and it could just be his age.

Still… I had that feeling in my stomach. I just knew. Jackson is different.

We voiced our concerns but the teachers kept reiterating that it was too soon to tell. 

Once he started getting reading home work he’d always ask me to read a page out loud before reading it himself.  Initially, I didn’t think so much of it.  I figured he just needed an extra boost and I was happy to oblige. One day though I was watching him read and I saw that he wasn’t actually reading the text. His eyes weren’t moving.

So the next time I changed the text from the original and that’s when I realised Jackson had memorised every word and was retelling the story from memory only.

Word for word. 

Incredibly impressive but I was heartbroken. 

I wasn’t heartbroken that he had Dyslexia.  I was so sad that he’d been so worried about being different, and not being able to read, that he’d memorised it all in order to disguise it. He wanted to hide it and not tell us.

I recently saw a thread on Twitter whether we should have home work or not. This is a whole other post in itself but let’s just say, I’m not a fan.

Home work time in this house is pure torture. 

Our son is miserable, we despair and I just don’t see the point. 

Our son is now in year 5. 

We have good days and bad days. 

His reading and writing has improved. He’s still incredibly fast at learning and memorising text. His stories are incredible; he’s so creative and imaginative. 

Often, you can play him a tune once and he’ll remember most, if not all, lyrics. 

He seems at peace with his Dyslexia and tries to keep up. His peers are so supportive and he’s never been bullied for being different. 

Our school system just isn’t set up to support children with dyslexia and we need more awareness. Keira actually briefly talks about it herself; we need to educate and support our teachers so that they can adapt their teaching plans and learning environment accordingly. 

We encourage our son to try and explore all aspects of his personality.  

Being good at reading and writing is useful, but it’s isn’t everything. 

For example, he is incredibly astute and sensitive. He’s devoted, caring and loving. He can spot patterns incredibly fast and he can see the whole picture. 

He doesn’t seem to be worried about his Dyslexia. He just says that his brain is “wired differently”. 

I’ve spoken to a few adult friends with Dyslexia. They all have different coping mechanisms and we are lucky to have technology on our side. Like spell check, and Siri/Alexa. 

Having Dyslexia won’t stop you from achieving in life. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask these following people instead: 

Albert Einstein

Richard Branson

Darcey Bussell

Keira Knightly

Steven Spielberg

Pablo Picasso

Jamie Oliver

John Lennon

Steve Jobs

Ingvar Kamprad 

Useful links:

British Dyslexia Awareness Week

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