I first learned that my daughter had at the end of kindergarten.
I was, of course, concerned about her future. What did it mean for her to have a language-based learning difference? What could I do to help her in school? But beyond the concern, I was also confused and, yes, fearful.
Reading and writing came very naturally to me as a child. I’ve made a living at times as a writer, through my use of language. As I wrote a few years ago in a blog for the New York Times, I’ve always been “a lover of words.”
So my immediate reaction to my daughter’s dyslexia was the fear that I could never share that love with her. What if my daughter would never read, write and engage with books the way I had envisioned? And what if that kept us apart?
I’m happy to say that in the years since she was diagnosed, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to have dyslexia. And I’ve learned a lot about what I can do to support my daughter. She’s now in fourth grade. And after getting the right educational interventions, she can now read and is learning to write as well (though with more difficulty than other kids her age).
My daughter still faces daily challenges. As her mom, I want and need to help her face them.
But something amazing has happened. Tackling my daughter’s learning differences together has been an opportunity to bond with my little girl. The unexpected and beautiful consequence of her dyslexia is we’ve grown closer, not further apart. I need to explain.
Bonding between parents and children can involve the intimate, family relationship development that we most often think of. This bonding is instinctual and starts for most of us the minute our child is born.
But what my daughter and I are experiencing is different. I think of it more like this:
Bond (verb) – To join or be joined securely to something else, typically by means of an adhesive substance, heat or pressure
Lots of parents talk to their child about how school went, what they learned and who they played with. And my daughter and I talk about those things too.
But we also have these incredible, intense and enlightening conversations about her needs, both learning and emotional.
Because of dyslexia, school isn’t easy. And we talk every day about how we can make it better. We bounce around ideas about how she can be more successful by talking with her teachers. We connect over which friends she feels close to. She confides in me when her learning differences are getting her down.
We take the conversation a step further, because we’re forced to. That’s how we address her needs. Dyslexia has given me the opportunity to go deeper with my daughter—and to really know and understand her at a very young age.
The result is that I know exactly how my daughter learns best, where her hang-ups happen and what frustrates her most at school. I have an intimate front-row seat in the journey of her growing up.
Make no mistake—we are under “pressure.” We’re feeling the “heat” of the challenges that learning differences bring. But it doesn’t break us. It brings us closer. Going through this “fire” together has produced something profound and unexpected.
Looking back over our journey together, I wouldn’t trade this experience with my daughter for anything.
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About the author
About the author
Lyn Pollard is a writer and mom to two kids who learn differently.