Partners and Parents of Dyslexics

The nature of the relationship between people living together is very difficult to generalize with each case being unique. Habits, behaviour and lifestyle are due to the nature and personality of the individuals and the bonds between them. However, there are behavioural features and habits which many dyslexics possess which generally annoy others: disorganized, messy, forgetful, clumsy,  time-wasting, inattentive, daydreaming, panic creating. Living with such people can be demanding, frustrating, challenging, annoying and overall difficult.

Those living with a dyslexic must accept the disability and understand that the negative characteristics will not change. Just like an individual's personality, they are part of the person's  behaviour and habits. But what can change is the impact. This means that all concerned need to work together to create an environment to suppress the negative habits as much as possible. Expecting someone to change by just telling them to do or not do something will not work, concrete measures need to be applied. For example, after using some object or device many dyslexics have the bad habit  just leaving it out and not putting it away. Every item must have its own place and if it doesn't then a place must be created for it. Some dyslexics can be so messy and disorganized that it might be advisable to allow them their own space of organized chaos, giving them an environment they feel comfortable in. Not allowing such a space mean that they would be likely to create a mess elsewhere. In other words it would be better to have one messy area than many. Accept that generally things have a natural tendency to go from order to disorder. For many dyslexics it is a case of going from disorder to chaos.

Earlier I emphasized that all members of the household need to work together to create a peaceful living environment. So, those living with a dyslexic need to have a certain degree of tolerance and flexibility and in return the dyslexic must try to take more responsibility for his/her actions and give as much support as possible by:

  • Minimising weaker areas by, for example, trying to be more organised, tidier, more reliable and less forgetful.
  • Finding other ways of contributing to the welfare of the living environment such as being more responsible in other areas, such as taking care of the children, doing the shopping or yardwork.

Under no circumstances should a dyslexic continually and openly make excuses for his or her  negative behaviour by blaming  their disability, even though it maybe true to a certain extent. It can be perceived by others as being selfish and showing a lack of willingness to try and improve their negative habits. Furthermore, continually blaming the disability and expecting sympathy from others shows that the disability controls the individual rather than the individual being in control of the disability. On the subject of control, dyslexics need to rely on other people to do things for them and are therefore more dependent on others than they would like to be. Due to their inabilities and limitations dyslexics can easily be dictated to and controlled by others. Being dependent creates a loss of independence and leads to a strong desire to do things for oneself. A dyslexic needs to gain independence and be in control of their lifestyle, this is a sign of success that one can survive despite his or her weaknesses. This success further enhances confidence and motivation and creates  a feeling of security.

The Role of Parents

Why does my child struggle to learn and consistently achieves poor results at school? It is essential for parents and the school to find the reason. There may be many factors contributing to this but one could be that the child has a language disability. If this is the case then it is vital that parents are accurately informed and accept this fact. Early detection is paramount so that the correct guidance, support and courses of action can be put to immediate effect. If parents remain unaware that their child has a disability or they don't accept this fact then the consequences from this can be potentially damaging for all concerned. Dyslexia can be inherited, and for some parents this subject is sensitive. They may have struggled themselves and don't want their child to go through the same difficulties. Furthermore, because of the disability their child may not be able to live up to the parent's dreams and expectations.

What the child needs is acceptance, understanding, and support. If the parents do not realize this, then a reversal may occur whereby the child is accused of  being lazy, inattentive, and a failure. This could have a potentially devastating effect because blame is put on the child for something he/she is not responsible for and has no control over. Furthermore, the shame about this situation is that it is the mature parent, more than anyone else, that the child looks up to for the right guidance and support.

For parents, the bringing up of children is a tough and challenging task, all the more so when a child has a disability. Parents then  have a 'child' longer in their lives than expected, and the constant reminding, reassurance, motivation, support, guidance, and overall energy exerted can take its toll on a lifestyle already full of other responsibilities. Parents can feel valueless and underappreciated, particularly if they see very little progress. They need encouragement and satisfaction from seeing their child develop and improve. Therefore, for all involved, it is absolutely imperative for parents to seek and follow a path that best promotes the development and progress of their child. Furthermore, this provides the comfort of knowing they are doing everything possible for the child's benefit. For further guidance click see the next page Advice for Parents.