Monday night we went to the dyslexia night event at RRISD. We brought Jack with us, not really with a plan, just thinking that having him might help us understand some of what he deals with. Maybe bouncing things off of him, etc. Initially we had no idea what the evening was going to be, on the way over I had Sam read the description from the flyer, and we found that it was a “simulation” event, where we would be presented with scenarios that were designed to make us feel the confusion and frustration that our children with dyslexia struggled with.
So there were a number of things that stuck with me on the night, first, and foremost was Jack. He indicated that he thought it was a good simulation of how he feels every day, in fact, he told the assembled group at the end of the night as much on his own, without prompting. He was one of two or three kids present that I believe to have been the Dyslexic population. i think a few others were there for various reasons, but a few I think were also there for the experience.
We did a few stations that were designed to mimic and simulate the frustration that kids feel when surrounded by those not afflicted with Dyslexia. one was a mirror that had to be positioned in front of the writer so that you used it to write out letters and words. This was EXCEEDINGLY difficult for me, and the “teacher” walked around praising some “students” and chiding others. This had the desired effect, i actually threw up my hands in frustration and tried to quit. Another similar station had us writing made up letters and words that we weren’t familiar with, and forced to use our non dominant hands. This had the effect of creating a jerky, uncertain writing method, and I actually saw my hands looking as Jacks do when he writes. My favorite of the evening was a section where we had to read paragraphs and passages that were written in a patterned gibberish alphabet, however not everyone had those passages, some had the same passage written in english. So when the “teacher” called on you, you may or may not be able to read your section. It was borderline embarrassing when your passage was gibberish and someone else suddenly piped up with the passage as if it was no problem at all.
I learned a lot. One of the other reading stations had the letters and words printed backwards, and initially I thought this was a forced way to simulate the confusion but what I found was a situation where I couldn’t identify words, even when i had recently read THE SAME WORD just a sentence or two before. This is something I’ve seen Jack struggle with time and again, and unfortunately I have to admit that I have let frustration get the better of me many time when it occurred, and lost my patience with him.
I think my main take away from this is to spend some time learning methods to teach and be calm with my dyslexic kid, because it is more obvious than ever for me that he is different, and it is me who doesn’t understand that, not him.