Psychosocial Aspects of Dyslexia



Adolescence is one of the most challenging times of one's life. Having to deal with a roller coaster of emotions, oftentimes hormonally induced, becomes the order of the day for both the parents and the teenager. Scary Picture Richard Lavoie, Executive Director of Riverview School, a residential school for children with learning disabilities, defines adolescence as a 365 days.... 52 weeks a year....battle to not be embarrassed. With this idea in mind, imagine what life is like for a dyslexic adolescent. A NIGHTMARE!!!

If the dyslexia is not detected in elementary school, remediation for the dyslexic student tends to take longer and may be more difficult to achieve according to Dr. Anne Huston. This is due, in part, to the self-esteem damage that has occurred over the years as the student falls behind his peers academically. Frustration and anxiety have resulted from repeated failures and poor grades. "What's the use?" becomes the student's motto, and their drive and motivation to succeed in school is thrown out the window.

The middle school or high school dyslexic may become a "loner", "class clown" to hide their problems through laughter, or try to act superior, "putting down" those who make him feel inferior. There may be explosive behaviors that include extreme irritability and/or nasty verbal outbursts. Although the combination of attitude and behaviors is a coping mechanism for the dyslexic, the teenager is often mislabeled "lazy", "uncontrollable", "emotionally disturbed", or "socially immature". Oftentimes, in an attempt to uncover "what is up" with the child, teachers and administrators, may question the parents about the child's home life.

If there is any suspicion that there is a problem with dyslexia, seek the advice of a professional. Getting the proper diagnosis is paramount to getting helping for a dyslexic adolescent. Determining the exact nature of the learning disability may provide answers to the multifaceted problems a child has experienced throughout his/her years in school and home.

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Looking Forward to the Future

Every family asks what their child is going to do after high school, but for a family who has a dyslexic child, this question can be a major source of anxiety. Extra support and careful planning may be necessary to help people with information-processing problems like dyslexia make a successful transition to the working world or a place of higher education, states Corrine Smith, P.H.D. and Lisa Strick in their 1997 book Learning Disabilities from A to Z. Smith and Strick stress that parents need to take a proactive approach in this transition planning process, and not leave this important matter entirely to the counselors and staff of your child's high school. The earlier parents begin planning for their child's future, the greater the success rate. In fact, beginning preparation is recommended during the adolescent's freshman year or earlier. Another key feature to the success of transition planning is to actively involve the child in the planning process. Involve the person with an SLD in understanding it, so they can advocate and make decisions for themselves about their lives. "It's their life, we're planning."

On to: Adulthood

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