Anxiety and Back to School with Dyslexia

I see the cute pictures and memes from other moms. You know, the moms of kids for whom reading so easily comes. They post funny happy memes of partying while the school bus pulls away, and videos of buying teachers anything they want if they will just take our kids for a few hours a day.


But I can’t relate. I have never been able to relate. I want to be this type of mom, but for me back to school is full of anxiety. Full of worry. Full of fear.

Will he get understanding teachers this year? God, please let him get understanding teachers. Will he make friends quickly? Will the other kids understand that “choose kind” is more than just a slogan on a popular t-shirt? (Fish in a Tree is a great book to help them understand.) Will he be afraid to use his assistive technology in front of other kids? Will they stare if he does? Will his brain be so exhausted from all the reading at the end of the day that he gets a headache?  Will he make progress in reading? How many IEP meetings will I have to call? 

My son has dyslexia. Not just dyslexia, but profound dyslexia. That means he is on the severe end of the reading spectrum. While some learn to read quickly, for my guy understanding that those symbols represent sounds has always been like trying to move a tractor trailer with a rope that you are pulling with your teeth.

He is incredibly smart. Gifted, actually. He scores advanced on standardized testing when the sound/symbol portion is taken out of the equation …when it is read aloud.

But from the time our kids are in pre-school, they are taught that reading faster equals being “smarter.” Science says it’s not true, but when Johnny’s mom gets compliments on how “smart” he is because he was the first in the class to read, and Suzie is sent to a “special” classroom because she can’t grasp those letters ….what is a child to think?

So, I won’t be sharing those memes. I wish we had more summer to come.

But I also refuse to let the anxiety pull me down. And I remember the good.

Last year, he had one of the best teachers of his entire school career. She taught social studies, and she differentiated instruction better than any teacher I’ve ever seen. He learned so much in her class. He came home excitedly talking about China and Mesopotamia and Greece.

And he made two best friends. 

And he is learning to play an instrument. And his reading is improving.

What will this year hold? We put on a smiling face, grab our pencils, and step out into this new world to see …

And there goes the bravest kid I know. I am here for him, whatever the day brings.

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