Dyslexia Awareness Month: An Interview with a Parent

Note: October is Learning Disabilities / Dyslexia / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Month.

Kristin Kane

Kristin Kane

Resha Conroy

Resha Conroy

By Kristin Kane

October is a great month for awareness, some impressive groups come together this month to share information about a specific issue. At the heart of it is a goal that helps others understand why the issue is important and why we should pay attention. Raising awareness can take different forms, but it is the connection of people that brings meaning to why a community raises awareness.

This month is Dyslexia/LD/ADHD Awareness Month, and I had the honor of sitting down with Resha Conroy, a parent of a child with Dyslexia. She is also a member of the National Center on Improving Literacy Family Engagement Advisory Board and has started her own non-profit, Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children

Why is Dyslexia/LD/ADHD Awareness Month important to you?

Dyslexia is often called a hidden or invisible disability, you cannot physically see the symptoms, which often causes it to be overlooked. Dyslexia Awareness Month allows us to make it more visible. When you ask the public, “what is dyslexia,” you hear about letter reversal and seeing things backwards. There is such limited awareness of the signs, symptoms, and intervention for people with dyslexia. It starts the conversation and hopefully leads to meaningful and informed action.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a parent of a child with dyslexia, and how did you handle them?

It was difficult to get a diagnosis and intervention. The signs and symptoms of dyslexia are not well understood in many schools or by parents. I was told my son was too young and to give him more time, which was not true. I knew from my research that early intervention, intervening before 3rd grade, is more effective than a “wait to fail” model. I was able to advocate for my son because I knew that dyslexia can be [1] and intervening early is possible.

What are the biggest successes you have had as a parent of a child with dyslexia?

When my son was diagnosed with dyslexia, one of my first goals was to ensure that his self-esteem as a learner remained intact. It is very easy to feel like you don’t belong when you are sitting in a classroom every day and have difficulties with reading. We know that [2] people with un-remediated dyslexia have increased rates of anxiety, depression, and school avoidance, and so, I always celebrated his strengths and wins.

It is difficult because lack of reading is often mistakenly equated with low intelligence. I was very purposeful about putting him in environments where he could celebrate his strengths. He knows reading is more challenging and understands why, but it does not define him or limit his goals and his dreams.

What are you hoping to accomplish as an NCIL family engagement advisory board member?

NCIL has a wealth of information for families, educators, advocates, and other professionals. As an NCIL family engagement advisory board member, I hope to support and ensure family-friendly, accessible information and that the message reaches families from all backgrounds across race, ethnicity, linguistic background, and socioeconomic status.

What is your best tip for a parent seeking advice?

Knowledge is power. Learn all that you can about literacy, dyslexia, getting a diagnosis, effective evidence-based intervention, and the special education process. Fortunately, there is a lot of information available online. NCIL has wonderful parent-friendly resources. You can find articles, videos, interactive modules for parents and guardians and even resources for children.

Find support in your community or online and connect with other parents who have gone through this process. It is not an easy road to navigate alone.

Finally, dyslexia does not go away, so support is necessary.

What is the best part of being the parent of a child with dyslexia?

My son inspires me. One of the most inspiring things about him is his kindness and empathy. I am not sure if it is because of his experience as a child with dyslexia, but he sees the best in people. He is also incredibly creative. His first invention was in kindergarten when he used household materials and crayons to make the “Draw-a-lator.” He imagines and reimagines all the wonderful possibilities in the world, and it is just amazing to witness as a mom.

NCIL Resources

In honor of the advice shared by Resha above, we have included resources that can help a parent begin to build their knowledge about dyslexia.

Kristin Kane, senior research scientist, Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at the National Center on Improving Literacy, interviewed Resha Conroy, a parent of child with dyslexia, and a member of NCIL Family Advisory Board.

[1] Schelbe, L., Pryce, J., Petscher, Y., Fien, H., Stanley, C., Gearin, B., & Gaab, N. (2021, October 25). Dyslexia in the Context of Social Work: Screening and Early Intervention. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 103(3), 269–280. https://doi.org/10.1177/10443894211042323

[2] Schelbe, L., Pryce, J., Petscher, Y., Fien, H., Stanley, C., Gearin, B., & Gaab, N. (2021, October 25). Dyslexia in the Context of Social Work: Screening and Early Intervention. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 103(3), 269–280. https://doi.org/10.1177/10443894211042323

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this article. As a Reading Interventionist, I’m noticing more and more Black and Hispanic children being screened for services, when essentially many are coming from homes where the parents are not literate or did not finish school.
    I’ve also observed a shift in the quality of teaching instruction; it’s daunting and the children are really suffering.
    For those who may have a Learning Disability, it’s often ignored and by 3rd grade, the children have an even harder time learning than ever.

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