My Child Was Just Diagnosed with Dyslexia---What Do I Do?

You just finished the not-so-simple evaluation process and received documentation that validates the concerns you've probably carried for awhile---your child has dyslexia. 

So...now what?

Most psych reports will include a recommendation section, but sometimes it's hard to understand the jargon and really get a handle on what your most important next steps should be. Here are a few tips I've learned from watching many parents walk this journey.

1) Take a breath.

It's going to be okay! There are so many resources you will find and be able to tap into that can open up doors of opportunity and bring new energy. Your child WILL be successful given the right tools and others will get to see how brilliant you already know they are.

2) You aren't alone.

Network, network, network. Join a Facebook group of parents walking this journey as well. Reach out to the International Dyslexia Association and Everyone Reading Illinois, asking to be connected with other parents and professionals. Attend a local conference and ask lots of questions. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity's Parent Page includes helpful articles chronicling the stories of many families in similar situations. The Dyslexia Quest Podcast has a wealth of information on many different aspects of life with a dyslexia diagnosis. Before you take any concrete steps, you want to educate yourself on what lies ahead. This will help you weigh all the factors and make the best decision for your family.

3) Interview several tutors.

Once you've taken a few weeks to network, ask questions and internalize the diagnosis, try to set up interviews with 3-5 certified Reading Specialists to get a feel for who you will connect with best. Weigh out the options of finances, rapport, and logistics. Even if it drags the process out a bit, structured literacy intervention is a long-term commitment and you want to find someone both you and your child feel comfortable with as well as a price point that will be sustainable for your family. It is not uncommon for reading therapy to be necessary on some level for several years, and switching providers only make the process longer. Find someone you could see sticking around for the long haul. Crunch numbers for how much intervention will cost 2-3 times a week, which is the minimum recommended to close skill gaps and re-wire the brain. You want to make sure you understand the commitment you're about to make.

4) Set up a meeting with a Reading Specialist Advocate.

If possible, setting up a consultation with an advocate can be super helpful in getting as many free services out of your school district as possible. Many times, this can be the same person you end up hiring to deliver intervention. Though an extra financial sacrifice up front, this step can save you thousands of dollars and many wasted hours in the long run. The more intervention you know to ask your district for is less you have to pay for out of pocket. Many times, districts won't offer you all they actually can provide unless you know the right vocabulary to use. So get some help from professionals who know exactly how to push for the right services. You don't want to waste you or your child's time with in-school minutes that aren't research-based and systematic. 

5) Start listening to Audio Books as a family.

You and your child are weary of the routine 30-minute fight about reading out loud together, often resulting in tears or angry outbursts from both sides. Keep reading as positive as possible on the home front! One easy way to do this is to start listening to Audio Books whenever you get a chance, beginning to instill a love of this practice in your child. Audible, subscription-based, is a great place to try a few high-interest titles out, as well as Hoopla, which is free. Your local library is also a great place to let your child pick out audio books that look interesting to them. Audiobooks keep your child exposed to new knowledge, story structure, high-level vocabulary, proper cadence and a love of learning while alleviating the frustration of decoding text on a page. That will come in time with the proper intervention.