I have been contemplating writing a post for the Dads for quite some time. This will be a long post, but please take the time to read it. I wanted to give my perspective as a Dad who probably did everything wrong before we found out our child was dyslexic. Academics came very easily to me. I did not have a lot of patience with my son when it came to his struggles. I did not understand what the problem was and I thought it was just a lack of effort on his part. As men we are taught that, although not everything may come easily, if you just work hard enough you can accomplish a set goal. I could not fathom why it took my son so long to accomplish basic tasks such as reading a single word on a flash card. I had ZERO patience. Once he finally started getting the flashcards down, we moved on to sentences with the words from the flash cards. This was a disaster. He could not read anything. I was livid. I would berate him for what I deemed was a lack of effort. I did not get my “Compassionate and Understanding Dad” merit badge. There were other things that drove me crazy. He had great difficulty in doing things that I thought should have come easily. Tying shoes, riding a bike, and other fine motor skill functions did not come naturally. I remember becoming so frustrated when trying to teach him how to ride his bike that i picked up the bike and threw it into an empty lot in our neighborhood.
My son had originally been diagnosed PDD-NOS, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. At that point this was considered part of the autism spectrum which basically meant “we know there is something wrong but we are not quite sure what”. My son did not fit into the a typical autistic category, but there were definitely some issues. My wife started doing some research about his behavior. The more she read, the more she became convinced he was dyslexic. Once we had him tested we found that he had moderate to severe dyslexia. I still did not fully grasp all that this entailed. I obviously felt like a complete and utter jerk for how I treated my son concerning reading and his academics. I still look back and think how much differently I should have done things. That being said, I did not buy into how dyslexia could affect the other areas of his life. What did a reading disorder have to do with tying your shoes?
The reality is that dyslexia affects almost every aspect of a child’s life. Motor skills, memorization, math, remembering sequential steps(both in academics and in daily tasks), and organization skills are all impacted by dyslexia.
As men, we are wired to fix things, no matter what it may be. My best advice to you dads is that you can’t fix your child because your child is not broken. They are different. They think different, act different, and react different, but they are definitely not broken. Don’t try to fix them, try to understand them. Be patient. Do research, this is not just your wife’s job. The better you understand why they are the way the are, the better you can help.