5 Stages of a Dyslexia Diagnosis

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Learning to accept your child’s dyslexia diagnosis

Most of us have heard of the 5 stages of grief. This refers to different stages that people go through after the death of a loved one or a divorce. If your child is diagnosed with a developmental condition like dyslexia, it is not uncommon to go through similar stages of grief. 

If you are still grappling with your child’s diagnosis, you are probably experiencing some pretty overwhelming emotions. We discuss the “5 stages of dyslexia diagnosis” and give you tips on how to deal with them. 

What a dyslexia diagnosis means

We want to make sure you understand what a diagnosis of dyslexia means for your child. First, although it may be new to you, please know that you are not alone. Around 1 in 5 children are affected by dyslexia. 

Second, dyslexia does not reflect on your child’s intelligence or IQ in any way. Some of the smartest and most accomplished people in the world are dyslexic. Here are just a few examples:

  • Albert Einstein 
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Richard Branson

No one would claim these people are unintelligent.

What is dyslexia? It’s a learning difference that leads to difficulty processing and understanding written words and/or numbers. It is not an issue with the eyes but rather related to how the brain functions. There are a few forms of dyslexia, and each one comes with slightly different challenges when it comes to reading, writing, and anything with numbers.

You can read more of the myths and misconceptions about dyslexia here on our blog. Now let’s go through the five stages of a dyslexia diagnosis.

Stage 1: Denial

No parent wants to believe something could be “wrong” with their child. Some will deny the truth because it hurts too much. Since children with dyslexia are often bright and outgoing, it can come as a shock to learn your child has trouble reading. 

A learning disability? Not my child!

You may think the diagnosis is wrong or that your child is just delayed and will catch up to his or her peers eventually. 

“Boys develop slower than girls.”

“Maybe she’s just shy about reading out loud.”

These are all part of “denial.” The best thing you can do is accept the diagnosis and move on to getting your child the help he or she needs to succeed. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for your child.

Stage 2: Anger

Hearing a diagnosis of dyslexia can spark anger. You may be angry at the universe because your child has to go through this struggle. Your anger might stem from the fact you cannot “fix it.” Like a diagnosis of juvenile (type 1) diabetes, this is something your child will have to deal with throughout his or her life.

You may become frustrated with your child’s teachers or administrators. You might even get frustrated with your child’s progress or his/her attitude about school. 

The best thing to do here is to forgive yourself. Anger is often the result of feeling powerless. Try to remember that your child is likely going through the same stages, too.

Stage 3: Negotiation

People often look for ways to regain control when they are feeling intense emotions. In other words … If I do XYZ, maybe I can change this situation.

This is called “bargaining.” You may think turning into a super mom (or dad) will change the diagnosis or lessen the impact of dyslexia on your child. If you volunteer more at school, the teachers will give your child more attention. If you sign him/her up for this or that program, the issue will go away. 

Thinking you can change a diagnosis will only lead to frustration and anger (remember Stage 2). The good thing is you CAN do something to help your child succeed. You are not powerless. There are plenty of resources designed for children with dyslexia.

Stage 4: Depression

It is very common to experience mental health consequences after your child’s diagnosis. You might blame yourself or think you failed your child. You see that kids your child’s age are reading with no problem, and you might fear yours will never get to that place. 

This can lead to depression and anxiety. While the symptoms might be mild, they can become serious if you don’t deal with your feelings. If you are experiencing depression, seek help from a licensed therapist. These professionals are trained to help you process and deal with your emotions. 

Stage 5: Acceptance

Getting to this last stage may be the hardest to achieve. Some people mistakenly believe acceptance means you’re over it. You’ve processed your feelings and are ready to move on. While there is some truth to this, you may continue to feel the loss or fear for your child’s development.

Acceptance does mean you are ready to take the next step, which is “action.” Now is the phase where you decide that dyslexia will not stand in the way of your child’s dreams. You take the reigns and decide to do whatever it takes to make sure your child succeeds.

The Learning Lab can help

The Learning Lab is a place where children who struggle with dyslexia or other learning differences can get the support they need. We provide a nurturing environment that encourages students to reach their potential, along with intensive instruction based on expert science and understanding of dyslexia. 

Our #1 tool is the Orton Gillingham approach to reading and spelling interventions. This approach uses expert understanding of neuroscience and how dyslexia affects reading and overall learning. It uses explicit, systematic, sequential, and multi-sensory instruction to help children succeed in school and life. We also utilize other leading-edge curricula in our I3 Lab, which trains the heart and brain in order to promote reading, writing,  and math success for your child. 

Finally, we incorporate the online Fast Forward® reading program, which is designed for children with dyslexia, along with other learning differences including:

  • Reading comprehension struggles
  • Reading fluency deficits 
  • Auditory processing disorder (APD)
  • Expressive and/or receptive language differences 
  • Mild to moderate autism
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Other learning disabilities

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia – or you suspect he or she might have it – we can administer Dyslexia Screenings in order to verify the condition. Contact us to find out how we can help.

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